By Mark Scully
Saturday’s all action display against relegation threatened Macclesfield Town from Ricky Ravenhill was the type of performance expected from the experienced midfielder. His signature by Phil Parkinson was seen as another big piece in his jigsaw of forming a team capable of achieving success going forward into the future.
Initially arriving on loan in November last year from League One Notts County, Ravenhill instantly impressed and formed a solid midfield partnership with Ritchie Jones. With promotions under his belt from his time in South Yorkshire at Doncaster Rovers and a little further down the M1 at Meadow Lane, he looked the ideal ‘battler’ in the middle of the park to allow more creative players the opportunity to do what they do best.
Performing well during his loan spell, Parky moved quickly to make the move a permanent one and, in January, Ravenhill signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the Bantams and duly netted his only goal for the club shortly afterwards in the 2-2 draw against Morecambe at Valley Parade. In my opinion, one of his best performances in a claret and amber shirt was last time out against Macclesfield, where he went close to doubling City’s goal tally on the day. An excellent team move opened up the Town defence before Jose Veiga in the visitor’s goal thwarted Ravenhill as he looked set to score.
Ravenhill might not get many plaudits, and at times his work will go un-noticed; similar to the type of performances Lee Bullock has produced over the years. But having a player in the middle of the park that breaks up play and links the defence and attack is equally as important to the team as the goals that James Hanson and Nahki Wells bring to the table.
In recent weeks, Ricky has taken over the captain’s armband and, for me, would be the ideal skipper going forward into next season – unless George Galloway can bring his Arab friends to the party and we become the Manchester City of League Two and snap up Andrew Davies (as he would be perfect captain material…). However, this isn’t Football Manager so the chances of this happening are slim to none.
Frustratingly, despite impressing on loan and shortly after signing permanently, Ravenhill suddenly lost form and looked a shadow of the player City thought they had on the books. However, as he was a Parkinson signing, the chances of him being dropped for his poor performances were highly unlikely. So with David Syers at the time struggling with injuries and the odd scenario of Jones been dropped from the side and on occasions from the squad entirely, Ravenhill largely kept his place.
Thankfully in recent weeks, Ravenhill has returned to form and looks every bit the player City expected. Last year’s player of the year Syers and captain Michael Flynn now have to settle for a place on the bench or play out of position, thanks to the solid central midfield of Ravenhll and Jones.
Hopefully, come next May, Ravenhill will have another promotion on his CV. He’s clearly viewed as a key player by Parkinson, and I would agree with that. I think it’s important to have a solid spine to the side, and Ricky certainly falls into that category. Providing he can stay fit and away from suspension it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s not one of the stand out performers for the club in the 2012/13 season.