Halifax-born Collins describes challenge ahead at Bradford City

Bradford City head coach Michael Collins
Bradford City head coach Michael Collins

Former FC Halifax Town midfielder Michael Collins has spoken out asking fans to judge him on results following his shock appointment as Bradford City head coach.

The ex-Huddersfield Town and Scunthorpe United midfielder, 32, has been promoted internally from his role as Under-18 development coach to become the new face in the first-team dug-out at Valley Parade – making him the youngest head coach or manager in the English Football League in the process.

Collins, who only announced his retirement from playing last week after combining coaching duties at City with playing commitments for FC Halifax Town last season, will be assisted by lead development coach Martin Drury and head of recruitment Greg Abbott. The trio have signed three-year deals.

Ex-Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Collins is the first to admit that his appointment will be greeted with scepticism by some sections of the club’s fanbase, but is backing himself and his team to win people over.

Collins said: “That (scepticism) is natural and something we discussed. All the negativity that might be around it does not really bother me. Ultimately in football you are judged on what you do.

“Everybody knows what will happen if you do not do a good job. It is football.

“But everybody knows what can happen if we do a good job. We have got full belief in what we can do and just judge us on how we go about the job.

“As long as we follow through on what we set in place I think we wll give ourselves the best possible chance of being a success. That is all you can ever do.

“I cannot stand here and say we will do this and that. There are a lot of outside factors that influence it. But I can guarantee we will be organised, prepared and attacking in the way we go about things on all fronts. The lads will know what is expected and they will enjoy the environment we create.”

After interviewing over 10 candidates for the head coaching position to succeed Simon Grayson, who left six weeks ago, co-owner Edin Rahic firmly believes the club hierarchy have found the right candidate in Collins, who did not apply for the role.

Despite what many view to be a left-field selection, Rahic has also stressed the importance of fans getting behind two aspiring English coaches in Collins and Drury and giving them a chance after a difficult time for the club.

The German admits to being enthused by the footballing ethos of Collins and Drury and the playing styles they have espoused in the club’s Under-18 side and believes it can be assimilated at first-term level.

“Be positive in the beginning. If it is terrible then start to moan. But give them a chance,” Rahic said. “Everyone will find something to moan about. But we as a club and German owners are supporting two top talented coaches – English coaches.

“People should be saying ‘wow’. Everyone moans about English coaches not getting a chance, but we are giving them one. They are good, really good. They are thinking outside the box.

“You have to be brave in League One to play a different style. You have to attract big clubs if you want the good loan players.

“You want young players to see there is a chance to develop at Bradford City. Not just results-orientated, but also the system. The coaching we are forcing now in the academy and first team is individual coaching. That is important for a player.

“If they understand their role better as a right-back or centre-half you have a good chance.”

City have already brought in four signings so far this close season and Collins has revealed that the club are well down the line towards bringing in further targets.

A four-man committee of Rahic, Collins, Abbott and Drury will each have input into the recruitment process with Rahic stating if Collins is unhappy with any prospective signings they will not be brought in.

“The four of us will sit together and hopefully argue about whether we should sign him or not,” Rahic continued.

“But if the head coach does not think this is the right person in the core squad then we will not sign him because Michael will not play him and a signing does not make sense.”