Hutchings on the brink as Bradford covet Pleat

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The Independent Online

Chris Hutchings, just 10 games into his fledgling management career with Bradford City, may be about to learn a harsh lesson about life at the sharp end of the Premiership. The club, who are second from bottom of the League after winning only once so far this season, all but fired Hutchings after a hastily arranged board meeting yesterday afternoon, and by the evening Tottenham's director of football, David Pleat, had emerged as clear favourite to take over at Valley Parade.

Chris Hutchings, just 10 games into his fledgling management career with Bradford City, may be about to learn a harsh lesson about life at the sharp end of the Premiership. The club, who are second from bottom of the League after winning only once so far this season, all but fired Hutchings after a hastily arranged board meeting yesterday afternoon, and by the evening Tottenham's director of football, David Pleat, had emerged as clear favourite to take over at Valley Parade.

Hutchings was told after the meeting that he could expect the sack unless results improved immediately. He appears to have lost the confidence of the crowd as well as the board, and after Saturday's 2-0 defeat at home to Ipswich, he was subjected to abuse from the stands.

The club's chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, emerged from yesterday's meeting to say: "Clearly, if results don't improve then appropriate action will be taken. We are having a bad time at the moment on the pitch. We find ourselves 19th in the table and have only scored four League goals. I can understand the frustration that fans are feeling at present. I share that frustration.

"I made it clear that we need an improvement with immediate effect. I also made it clear that time was not on his side. I was satisfied by the end of the meeting that the right decision was to leave Chris in charge as manager in order to give him the opportunity to put things right."

Richmond promoted Hutchings after the previous manager, Paul Jewell, left to take over at Sheffield Wednesday in the summer. While the fans' choice as a potential successor would probably be the player-coach, Stuart McCall, Pleat is a man with vast knowledge of the market as well as experience of working under a tight budget.

Should Pleat be unavailable Bradford's more likely option would be to recruit an experienced coach already working in the Premiership. Graham Rix - who has found himself marginalised by Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea - and Charlton's assistant manager, Mervyn Day, would both fit the bill.

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