Mark Hughes back in management after Bradford CEO spotted junk email

League Two strugglers caused a huge shock on Thursday in announcing new boss

It is undoubtedly one of the more remarkable managerial appointments in recent history, and Mark Hughes’s unveiling as the new Bradford City manager may not have been possible at all had the Bantams’ chief executive, Ryan Sparks, not been so thorough when it comes to checking his email account.

The League Two strugglers caused a huge shock on Thursday when they announced that Hughes, the former Manchester City and Southampton manager who has never taken charge of a club outside the Premier League, had been appointed as Derek Adams’ successor on a deal until the summer of 2024.

The move marks Hughes’s return to management since being sacked by Saints over three years ago, but it almost didn’t come to fruition at all after the initial contact between Hughes’s representatives and Bradford was nearly ignored after the email in question went straight to the junk folder of Sparks, the youngest chief executive in the EFL.

Thankfully, he managed to spot the email in time. “The truth of the matter is when it actually came through, we’ve had some issues with our emails and it was in my junk folder,” Sparks explained. “I go through that every day and obviously I made a call very quickly to his representatives and explained: ‘Apologies for the three-hour delay, I’m usually on it but I would like to have a conversation with Mark.’”

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Hughes says he will not enter with preconceptions about the job and the players he is inheriting. “I’m not going to come in here and compare and contrast,” he said at his unveiling on Thursday. “I will work with what I’ve got in front of me and that’s the best way to approach things.

“I’ve managed at the top level but even there you had differing levels of ability within groups. It’s about maximising the opportunity we have here and giving them a plan and an understanding of what to do to win games. Hopefully we’ll be able to implement that and if you’re clear in your mind over what’s expected, we’ll be in a good place.”

Hughes insisted he always felt he would return to management, even if his arrival at Bradford is something of a shock. “I always envisaged I’d get back in at some point,” the 58-year-old said. “It’s fair to say it’s been longer than I anticipated and there are reasons behind that. I’ve still got many years left and I wasn’t prepared for the game to retire me. I’m still a young man in football terms. I’d like to have the option to retire myself when I feel it’s time rather than the game do that for me.” – Guardian