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‘Didn’t see this coming’ – Bradford City appoint former Premier League manager

Bradford City appoint the former Premier League manager that is Mark Hughes as their new boss, completely taking everyone off guard.

The former Wales and Manchester City manager has returned to football with Bradford City after being appointed as their new manager on a deal until the summer of 2024.

Hughes has never managed a club outside the top flight but has returned to the game for the first time since leaving Southampton more than three years ago with a side 15th in League Two.

Bradford, who appointed Derek Adams last summer after winning the playoff final with Morecambe, sacked him last week and has since gone back to the Shrimps, also confirmed on Thursday.

CLUB STATEMENT:

Bradford City AFC is delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Hughes OBE – as the club’s new first-team manager.

The former Manchester City, Southampton, Stoke City, Fulham, QPR, Blackburn Rovers and Wales boss arrives at the Utilita Energy Stadium on a deal until the summer of 2024, having taken charge of over 450 top-flight matches.

With over 150 Premier League victories and eight top-10 finishes, Hughes boasts a record of having managed the seventh-highest total of Premier League fixtures in history.

The 58-year-old Welshman guided Rovers to a sixth-placed Premier League finish in 2005/06, reaching two FA Cup semi-finals and a League Cup semi-final over three-consecutive years at Ewood Park.

He then took the Cityzens to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and League Cup semi-finals, before achieving three-straight ninth-placed finishes with Stoke from 2014 to 2016.

As a player, Hughes began his professional career with Manchester United in 1980, scoring 163 goals in 473 appearances across two spells and winning the Premier League (twice), FA Cup (three times), League Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup.

Having also served spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the English Football Hall of Fame inductee and two-time PFA Players’ Player of the Year then spent three seasons with Chelsea, scoring 39 goals in 123 games and adding another FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup trophy to his cabinet.

He will observe training at the club’s Woodhouse Grove base this morning, before taking his first session tomorrow (Friday) and being in the dugout on Saturday for the Bantams’ Sky Bet League Two visit of Mansfield Town.

Hughes said: “I am really pleased to be here and am looking forward to the role, and the job in hand. It has been an exciting few days.

“It is maybe a little bit of a surprise that I have come in, but do not be put off by that!

“I am here for a reason: to make Bradford City a team people want to come and watch – and are proud to watch.

“The supporters come in their numbers, and that is the thing I have missed since being out of management. I am looking forward to the matchday, getting that adrenaline flowing and interacting with the crowd.

“Certainly, from now until the end of the year, we just want to finish strongly and see where that takes us.

“We want to move the club and everybody with it forward, and hope we can have the success everyone wants.”

City’s chief executive officer, Ryan Sparks, said: “We are delighted to have secured Mark’s services, and I am looking forward to working alongside him.

“His record and stature in the game speaks for itself, and he has achieved a great deal. To have him in our dugout is representative of the club’s ambition and desire to be successful.

“Mark expressed an interest in becoming our manager and, following talks between he, myself and Stefan (Rupp), we are today thrilled to be in a position to unveil him.

“This is without doubt one of the most significant appointments in the history of our football club. Mark recognises our true potential – and has the desire to ensure we fulfil it.

“Mark will be provided with the tools he requires in order to achieve our goals – be that in coaching, recruitment, sports science, medicine or any other area.

“He is relishing the challenges ahead and has repeatedly proven himself to thrive at elite levels of the game, in high-pressure situations.

“I hope you can join us on Saturday, when we face Mansfield Town, so Mark can be given a proper Valley Parade welcome as he leads us into the closing months of the season and beyond.”

Twitter users reacted as Bradford City appoint the former Premier League manager…

@misselisehartt: WHERE ON EARTH DID THIS COME FROM??? FANTASTIC 👏🏽👏🏽

@chellpaul: Absolutely delighted with this appointment. Huge name, huge connections, huge expectations. Well done City 👏

@GiallorossiBlue: Wow. Fantastic appointment. Of all the Rovers managers in my lifetime, Sparky sits second favourite behind Souness. The football he played with Rovers and the players he brought in gave us some of the best times as fans. If he can emulate that, Bradford will be very fortunate.

@SebBolton: Did not expect that 👏🏽

@AndyBantamsCarr: Mr Sparks, I am not sure what you did to achieve that but very well done sir!

@jegolton: Always a roller coaster 🎢 at City!!

@SHD1903: HOLY SHIT

@MorgiLFW: How we flucked that one then!

@hutch172: Outstanding appointment nice one Bradford

@StevayB91: Cool, now give him the freedom and funding to turn this club back into a professional outfit

@RobIrving11: The man who failed at Man City, QPR and Stoke with some of the richest owners and biggest budgets in English football. I cant wait to see how he gets on managing footballers like Theo Robinson

@jonathanandgill: It’s now time to get behind Mark and the team and get all the stay away fans back to Valley Parade and get the place going again, an exciting appointment.

@Jonatha05884996: Massive Learning curve for him dont think he has ever seen league two football, big and ambitious signing though even though he had been out for 3½ years but maybe the fire is back in his belly

@wilson_bcafc17: can’t get my head around this, we are absolutely massive #bcafc

@_Matthew_Ward: Wow, how have we managed to pull that off. Premier League experienced manager dropping down to League Two is a massive coup. This is the ambition people have wanted from the club. Hopefully everything works out in his favour but on the face of it a very good appointment #bcafc

@southychris: Start the engine… HMS Piss the League 22/23 about to set sail with your new captain Mark Hughes 😂 we’re a fickle lot us #bcafc fans but let’s hope for some upwards trajectory finally 😊

@Greeny1911: Dig out the £1 tickets Ryan Sparks, Saturday could be a huge crowd and potential to try spoil a promotion charge #BCAFC

@KDCunliffe: Have been following the club since 1969. The appointments of Roy McFarland & Frank Stapleton as player managers were huge surprises as was that of Bryan Robson but this surpasses all of them. Am absolutely staggered.

@BantamDxn: Announce 12 game winning streak only for Vladimir to announce WW3 on the day we become Champions! What an appointment 👏🏼 #bcafc

@LukeDyson1903: How the fuck have we managed that then 🤣🤣 #bcafc

@stecon1981: Ryan Sparks and the club have had a lot of stick recently but fair play on them bringing Mark Hughes to the club, I’m impressed. #bcafc

@lincolnbarra: Could be a bumper crowd on Saturday now #bcafc

@ShumLAD: Signed up and sacked adams. Signed up Sparky. Didn’t pay extra £500 a week for Stockton? We appoint and sign to sell tickets. As much as I think this is a fantastic appointment, I’ve seen it too many times in the last 5 years to get excited #bcafc

@PhilBradbury87: Fuck me! Not one person or rumour mentioned Mark Hughes. Absolutely buzzing with that appointment. He has a tough job on his hands but let the hard work begin for him. Nothing a million years would i have thought MH would drop down to manage us #bcafc

@MattBcafc_: What an unbelievable appointment that is. We’re 15th in league two and we’ve managed to bag a manager that’s spent his entire career in the Prem. Gargantuan. #BCAFC

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