Crewe Alexandra vs Bradford City preview
@Gresty Road on Saturday 2 November, 2013
By Ian Sheard
I wasn’t surprised to observe where Crewe are in the league, due to the fact they are not one of the big clubs in the division and, perhaps, not one of the most attractive teams on the fixture list. Having looked at their recent games, however, it is surprising to see how many of these ‘big teams’ they have actually played this season. If we compared them to City and matched up the fixtures it may give an indication as to why I predict a win for City on Saturday – and perhaps why this fixture may prove the catalyst to a resurgence in the Bantams’ early season impetus.
Out of the games Crewe have played this season; they have drawn with Oldham, Rotherham and Peterborough; beaten Preston, Tranmere and Bristol City (the latter two clubs lingering at the wrong end of the table); and been hammered by Swindon, Walsall, Notts County and Stevenage. Surely, then, this should be easy pickings for City? But of course, we know not everything is as easy it as it seems and there may be a few factors that could continue City’s miserable October into November.
Whilst I have always been a fan of Phil Parkinson and his overall management of the team, a small part of me – and I mean a very small part – disagrees with aspects of it. I think that his reaction to Ronnie Moore and Ian Goodison over the forearm incident was unprofessional, and perhaps influenced the ref a tad in his choice of card. It was a only a few seasons since the infamous Crawley match and the reaction was of both sets of players was quite rightly criticised openly by the club; this was not a great reaction to something not going our way.
Parkinson’s treatment of Alan Connell is also a worry for me. It must be so disheartening for a player, who has shown his potential, to find himself further and further down the pecking order - especially with the injury to Nahki Wells opening up opportunities for other strikers. The arrival of Caleb Folan must have been a bit of a kick in the teeth, but one could argue he is a back-up for Hanson. So why play Garry Thompson up front and not Connell?
Another slight niggle for me is the selection of players, in particular Kyel Reid. A friend always says to me that Reid reminds him a lot of Omar Daley in so far as his inconsistencies; and whilst I do not agree with him entirely, I see where he is coming from. Admittedly I rarely attend away games due to work and family commitments, but I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that there are two sides to Reid. There’s his home side, where shots fly over the bar, crosses are inconsistent or mis-timed, and free-kick and corners barely pass the first defender. This is in contrast to a fiery, quick, goal scoring winger who seems to have the rub of most right backs during games away from Valley Parade.
I would like to make it clear that I think Reid is a wonderful addition to the team, but on the other hand can be so infuriating to watch as a player. I think the best example of this was a collective drone from the Main Stand on Saturday after another failed cross from the wideman.
In Reid’s defence, I do think that it was a penalty when he went down in the second half. Gary Lineker once said that once you are one-on-one with the keeper and he has committed, the best thing to do is to knock the ball away and let him take your legs for a penalty. To me this is what happened on Saturday; but in view of his frustratingly annoying dive in the first half, you can see why he was booked! For me this sums Reid up and is a reason why I think he needs a bit of a kick up the backside.
Another thing that I think City can learn from Wolves is that we need to concentrate fully at the back. How much we miss Andrew Davies! I do wonder if Carl McHugh might be selected over Rory McArdle tomorrow, as I think was to blame for one of the Wolves goals and is not always as quick to react to the ball as he needs to be. Matthew Bates I would keep, as well as Stephen Darby, who I think is turning into the Wayne Jacobs - Mr Reliable but nothing too fancy man - of the team.
Jon McLaughlin has had a rough time recently but so has the best keeper in this country over the past few years, Joe Hart, and I think we should stay with him but need to find a decent understudy at least. James Meredith will no doubt start but I think he was beaten a little too often on Saturday due to the fact that he was pushing up with Reid… (I’ll leave it there.)
Central midfield will pick itself, but I wonder how long Gary Jones can keep this box to box role up as he demonstrated on Saturday? If he can brilliant, if not we need a signing in January as I doubt that Kennedy is up to it from what I’ve seen. Nathan Doyle was phenomenal for me on Saturday and should have been the man of the match. Up front Wells and Hanson will be most likely start, with Folan coming on for 10 minutes.
Ronnie Moore stated after the Tranmere game that we are still riding on the wave of Wembley and the success of last season. Whilst I would love to see him step into the ring with Mr Evans for pure hilarity and sadist pleasure, he may have a point but not in the way he meant it. Last season was the best season at City I have witnessed in my 20+ years of going, but I think we need to get back down to Earth and realise that the job now is to get out of this league. Sure, use last season as a reminder, but not as a mantra for every game.
This season, as some have naively predicted, is not going to be easy. So hopefully three points on Saturday will be the spark we need as we say goodbye to a difficult October.
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