26 February ~ “My most frustrating season in 26 years of management” is how Peter Taylor has described his time at Bradford City, who he decided to leave by mutual consent on Thursday. In what is probably an unprecedented situation, Taylor will still be in charge for today’s relegation battle with fellow strugglers Stockport County. “I would love to come off the pitch at 5pm tomorrow knowing that we’ve won the game. I’ll say sorry that it hasn’t worked out and move on knowing we will be a lot healthier,” Taylor told the local paper yesterday.
Speculation about Taylor’s position as manager has been rife ever since the Bantams went into another bottom-of-the-table clash at Barnet in early October. Instead of occupying one of the play-off places, Bradford lay uncomfortably close to the wrong end of League Two. Two second-half goals gave the Bantams a much-needed first away win of the season and it began a run of four wins from five games, which certainly eased the pressure on the former England Under-21 manager. But that form proved to be a blip; the club slid slowly down the table where they currently occupy 21st place.
Peter Taylor arrived at Valley Parade 12 months ago as replacement for club legend Stuart McCall who had failed in three attempts at getting the Bantams out of League Two. McCall left saying that he hoped the next manager would be luckier than him. However, Taylor has been deprived of key players by injuries this season, resulting in a constantly changing starting 11. Losing the influential midfielder Michael Flynn in a pre-season game and captain Simon Ramsden after the first game of the season were major blows. Last season’s leading goalscorer James Hanson has been plagued with niggling injuries and he has yet to hit the heights he achieved in 2009-10.
But all clubs suffer an injury crisis at one time or another and what will have been disappointing to Bradford City fans are the players that Taylor has been able to recruit, be it on loan or permanently. Only one signing from last summer could be described as a success: David Syers who came from a local non-League club. As you might guess, he is currently injured.
Taylor came to Valley Parade with an impressive five promotions on his CV. No one at Bradford, given the candidates available, would not have given him the job at the time. But it just hasn’t worked out. Taylor has cited the fans' response to him as the main reason for walking away. Certainly many have never taken to his defensive-minded tactics with Bradford currently the lowest goalscorers in the entire Football League.
Taylor had the chance to join Alan Pardew at Newcastle in early January but surprisingly turned down the job. The cover of the current issue of The City Gent poses the question: “Should Taylor have stayed or gone: What a decision to get wrong either way.” Taylor still says he doesn’t regret his decision to reject the move, but given the present circumstances I wonder if he is still so sure. Mike Harrison The City Gent