A new low point

Kieran

Carlisle United 1

Miller 14

Bradford City 0

Tuesday 11 February, 2014

Written by Mark Scully (image by Kieran Wilkinson)

The last match report I wrote was back in the good old days of August, ironically against Carlisle United. A Nahki Wells-inspired Bradford City ran riot that afternoon, winning 4-0 in our first home game back in League One. Mark Yeates scored a screamer; Gary Jones and Garry Thompson both got on the score sheet. The future seemed bright.  It looked for every second we had the team capable of taking League One by storm.

Sadly, fast forward a few months to last night, and words fail me at how bad we have become.

What frustrates me the most is our inability to beat the so-called ‘poor’ teams that are around us, such as Crewe on Saturday and again last night. Let’s not kid ourselves, Carlisle are a very poor side made to look good by another very poor side. A couple of Carlisle fans openly admitted, en-route back to the car after the game, that they had played badly in victory – what on earth does that day about us?

I can take losing, that is part of the game. What I can’t take is losing without any resistance – the lack of fight shown by the players last night was frightening. Did we ever look like getting back into the game? Not at all. The only player that came out of the game with any credit was Middlesbrough loanee Adam Reach. In his opening four games in a Bantams shirt, Reach has looked the real deal and his performance in the second half especially was a treat. He caused the Cumbrians problems with his trickery; and had constant beating of two if not three men down the Bantams left side.

Such efforts were not matched elsewhere in the team.

Phil Parkinson had shuffled his pack for the game. In came fit again Rory McArdle for Carl McHugh and Thompson for Kyle Bennett. Both predicable changes and, on the face of it, the correct decisions. City started the game reasonably well and seemed to press Carlisle back. Plenty of away possession, but without any goal-scoring threat. Long ball after long ball hitting the head of James Hanson, who in the first few minutes was getting joy against the Carlisle centre halves O’Hanlon and Meppen-Walter. But that was the problem of the evening: the long ball continued. As the game progressed it was clear to every man and his dog that it wasn’t working.

This has been a bone of contention for a while for many Bradford fans: the lack of a Plan B. We have been very predictable for months and, for some reason, Parkinson just can’t seem to change the mould. Even with the new players, the same hit and hope is the dish of choice.

When the game’s only goal came it was possibly against the run of play. Carlisle hadn’t looked like scoring, but yet again we contrived to gift the hosts the opportunity. In fairness to Parkinson, you can work on things in training all you want – but if players in matches are going to make individual mistakes, you can’t legislate for it and that is what happened last night.

City failed to clear our lines a couple of times from a routine corner, before the ball fell to the home striker Lee Miller who acrobatically finished. Could Jon McLaughlin have done better in his attempts to keep it out? Difficult to say without seeing it again, but Miller was only a matter of yards out and his shot on goal appeared to be straight at the City keeper.

From that point forward, apart from the already mentioned Reach, we simply couldn’t string passes together or build up a real intense pressure period where we peppered the goal. Reach had the only meaningful effort in the first half, when he ran down the right hand side and beat two men before cutting into the area and causing the Carlisle keeper to make a good save. Aside from that, both Gary Jones and Aaron McLean had half-chances.

Rather predictably, Matty Dolan was taken off at half time for the returning Nathan Doyle. Dolan did nothing wrong as such, but maybe the prospect of Doyle playing like a quarterback and spraying the ball was in Parkinson’s mind as he attempted to open up the Cumbrians.

Just a matter of seconds in the second half it should have been game over. David Amoo turned Stephen Darby on the half way time and ran clean through on goal with just McLaughlin to beat. Perhaps Amoo had too much time or perhaps he’s just not very good; either way he contrived to take far too long and stumbled in front of the onrushing McLaughlin, who saved with ease.

That should have been the catalyst and wake up call to re-energise the Bantams and it did to a certain degree; we had a large amount of possession without necessarily doing anything with it. Again the hoof ball football continued, by which point it was evident that is wasn’t working. Hanson was taken off with ten minutes or so to go. I’m a huge fan of Hanson, but last night through no fault of his own it was the right decision to take him off. Surely, try something different. Surely, try to get the ball on the deck and play through Carlisle. So what did we do with the first ball up to his replacement, Andy Gray? Launch it long towards him from defence. No Plan B.

Hanson did have a half chance, when he failed to connect with a Thompson cross after the winger had shown a turn of pace to beat the full back and get into the area, but the ball was just missed by the big man. McLean blazed over after creating a shooting opportunity for himself and, from memory, that was as good as it got for Bradford.

Full time was met with a smattering of claps, but in general just silence as the pressure and worries mount for all connected to the club. Reach was first over and deservedly received a standing ovation. But that can’t be said for the rest of the team, as they were met with a chorus of boos.

I’m not saying sack Parkinson or anything like that, but I think we will be very naive if we don’t think the board will be having the odd thought if this run continues for another couple of games or so. Will the manager turn this around? I really hope he does. Saturday’s game at Coventry will be difficult, but the run of three home games that follow give Bradford a real opportunity to get a couple of wins. If and when that does happen, the whole situation will look far better.

However, in the here and now the stats don’t lie and that win for Carlisle had just ended a run of six defeats in the last seven games for them. Bradford City have just continued their pathetic run of no wins in 13 and are still without a win in 2014. It is not time to press the panic button, but equally we can’t afford to be sentimental.

It took us seven years to escape the basement division. We can’t afford to go back straight away.

City: McLaughlin, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Bates, Thompson (Bennett 75), Dolan (Doyle 46), Jones, Reach, Hanson (Gray 80), McLean

Not used: Jameson, McHugh, Atkinson, McBurnie

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Categories: Match Reports

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22 replies

  1. It’s time the players took some responsibility & not hide behind Phil Parkinson!
    Certain players in this squad haven’t been anywhere near the form showed last year.
    There letting a very good manager & person down. Nathan Doyle, Rory Mcardle, Mark Yeates, Andrew Davies need to start showing the pride in the shirt again!
    We were the 1st to the tackle, 1st to the second ball. The new arrivals in the squad have been poor since January!
    I sincerely hope Chairman (s) Lawn & Rhodes keep there nerves intact & keep Phil Parkinson at the helm. We can all go on about tactics etc, but if there’s no fight in the team & let teams roll over us we will lose!
    Now the players must give Phil Parkinson the fight & hunger we all know you have!

  2. I fear things will get worse before they better. I am even checking out which league 2 grounds I might visit next year. We lack a match winner. We had one and sold him. New players look ‘ok’ but to me they do not look match winners. Compare them to Pritchard (Swindon) or the guys on loan at Crewe. They are match winners. It is too late to press the panic button. The writing was on the wall as far back as the Tranmere game – game after game we have given away soft goals, seen an ineffective midfield, had no plan B …. but no matter Wells will pull a bunny out of the hat…and so it has gone on. Now he’s gone we are increasingly being exposed as a poor side within this division. Not sure about lack of fight and hunger Wayne – I wasn’t at Brunton Park but there was fight evident at home against Crewe. Feel its more basic – we aint good enough.

  3. We seem to have a defence that’s short of confidence, possibly as a result of a non-commanding goalkeeper (in my honest opinion). When Duke was around, he was dominant in the 6 yd box and I don’t see that with McLaughlin. I don’t see him yelling at his defenders and issuing instruction as most good keepers do. And that for me is why we leak goals early in games, and are forever having to try and fightback.That coupled with the lack of a potent strike force and a creative midfielder is worrying, but I don’t think we’re that bad a team, and whilst we may get sucked into a relegation struggle, I think we’re good enough to stay up and build for next season. And anyone who criticizes Parkinson is plain ‘barking’!! It is, as others have said, up to the players to get back some of the desire from last season, have pride in the shirt, and pull us out of this depression…

  4. Never easy to go to carlise. freezing bloody cold, very little chance of playing any football, hence the tatics. thought the crewe game was a better chance for three points. New players gonna need time to gel, no left back?? Give the lads a chance. We can turn this around. Up the bantams.

  5. While not being complacent, BCFC are still in a reasonable position. I saw free fall being used to describe BCFC’s position on teletext, we’re thirteenth in the league and have been there or there abouts for a few weeks. Yes BCFC need to pick up points but such descriptions beggar belief. Obviously if we carry on in the same vein we’ll get dragged into a relegation dog fight but a couple of wins would put a whole new light on our non existent free falling!!!!!

  6. At the moment the whole team lacks confidence. They started reasonably well, conceded a bad goal and the confidence visibly drained. I don’t think there is any lack of effort in fact Davies and Hanson were making such an effort to clear the ball but made a mess of it. In any situation when confidence is low support is needed. I feel the frustration as much as anybody but will not boo or shout insults as this destroys confidence further. I have confidence in these players and manager to turn things around. Reach is a match winner so must be kept for the rest of the season. In the event of me being wrong and City go down I will stick with the club as that’s what supporters do.

  7. The long term development of the club is long ball boring football. Predictable play. With me I really appreciate Parkinson, what he did last year etc etc. But, the 4 4 2 long ball sunday league football is of the old school management. We can play triangles and football, but the management is going for safety instead of brave attacking play. Giving the ball to a winger to beat all the left side players then crossing in a congested area is pathetic. Same play all season. Presley was right (Coventry).

    Clubs much smaller than us are trying to play football, coach attractive energetic play and try entertain. You can have all the bulky hard workers you want grinding out matches, but the crowd deserve a long term phylosophy of todays forward thinking game. Long ball, attacking as a unit and defending as a unit, makes us unaffective, compact and predictable. If Hanson is the future of BCFC we will never progress.

    Sorry, but if Southampton can justify sacking a good manager not doing good enough, so can we. We will never sack them as Parky did the business last year and also we cant afford to, so its going to be a painful season. Then Parky will leave at the end of the season for a higher team and we will be left to start again. Wake up and stop going down with the ship. Todays game is no place for loyalty if both parties have outlived their uses.

    • It is comments such as these which leave me really frustrated with the manner in which those calling for Parkinson to go are portraying themselves. There is no sound logical argument to your comment, it is utterly over-the-top nonsense that is downright insulting. People like you who are demanding a change are doing your argument no favours whatsoever by your complete and utter failure to present it in a constructive manner.

      Over the last 24 hours I have read numerous comments from people wanting Parkinson to go, and I would say 90% are just plain insulting towards the manager with many featuring swear words and calling him all names under the sun. I find this behaviour absolutely disgusting. This is a man who took us from the bottom of League Two to the League Cup Final and to promotion, and who despite all the current problems has us in 13th place in League One. If you want him to go then fine, but to insult him and say such vile and nasty things is beyond the pale.

      You say you appreciate last season. No you don’t, because you would not go on to have such a ridiculous rant. I appreciate you question the style of football and I don’t think anyone has enjoyed recent performances, but to label it “Sunday league football” is pathetic and downright insulting to a lot of people (players, coaches and the manager).

      They deserve better. James Hanson deserves better than to say we will never progress with him. Again, he has been with us since the dark days of being near the bottom of League Two. And he has been instrumental in the process of getting us where we are today (which we’d call ‘progress’). He is the guy who scored at Wembley to get us promoted, he is the guy who scored at Villa Park to get us to the League Cup final. I don’t understand this hatred of Hanson people have. He is having a good season and is a completely unfair scapegoat for recent team failings.

      The club committed to a three-year contract for Parkinson and his coaching team. We are not one year into those contracts. Paying him off would cost a fortune, and here’s the thing: I was privy to the details of his last contract and what he earned. I don’t have a clue what he is earning now, but logically he will have got a pay rise. Sack him now and it is going to cost a six-figure sum to pay up his contract. As a football club do we really have money to throw away like that?

      If people want to provide reasons for why Parkinson should be sacked then great let’s hear them. But so far all I have seen are insults and pathetic mumblings about tiny things, rather than any logical and constructive arguments. Unfortunately, the way that people are demanding that Parkinson should go is completely undermining the case they are trying to make.

      • Jason, completely agree with this.

        It always irritates me when people resort to name calling and insulting the manager when things aren’t going our way. In this case especially so, given that many were calling for loyalty at the end of last season when his contract situation was up in the air. Yet this is what he is rewarded with. It’s pretty childish behaviour from the Football Manager generation, in many cases.

        It’s this impatience and knee-jerk reactionary attitude that is symptomatic of football in general these days. Southampton have been mentioned, but clearly they identified a manager and football philosophy they wanted to implement and ruthlessly went about doing it. That’s not how I want to see this club operate, and we’re also not in a position to be doing that given the type of managers we will be able to attract. They’re shopping at Harrods, we’re in Aldi.

        If we did employ another manager, guess what, in 2 years time when a few results go against us you can guarantee he’ll be labelled inflexible, the football will be criticised and we’ll go through the whole process again. At this level they’re much of a muchness, and if you’re looking to take a punt on a young unproven manager, that’s exactly what it is, a punt. As I said on C & B last night, the only time a managerial change has actually paid off in the last 10 years was the current one. Given the success he’s brought this club, it would be ludicrous to sack him after a difficult few months.

      • Jason, Jay put forward a reasonable argument about the type of football PP has developed for our beloved BCFC. Indeed the 4-4-2 system is one that City have played for many years. PP changed the personnel with Reid being the new Daley or the new Jermaine Johnson. No one doubts James Hanson’s abilities as both a target man and goalscorer. The difficulty with this style of football is that it is not only too predictable (for our level – yes we surprised Arsenal and Villa with our intensity) but also we are usually outnumbered in midfield.
        No one really wants a new manager but PP has to show that he has a new plan – I agree that losing Reid and Meredith would shake any team but the inability to bring in a specialist left back in the transfer window has proved costly. PP dd experiment with 3-5-2 at Pboro and we were undone by a fluke strike – yet only when we reverted to 4-4-2 and bring Reid on did we look capable of anything.
        Things do look bleak – and whilst we have drawn many matches judging from the reports and stats they are more points won than points thrown away viz Orient & Coventry.
        We can only hope that we turn a corner – there is no doubt that without PPs successes he would be long gone.

      • Hi Jason,

        I like WOAP and I’m thankful for the work you do for the BCAFC-supporting community but I have to take issue with this response, even as someone who does not want to see a change of manager at the club. Jay is entitled to his opinion and he made his point in a reasonable manner. You disagree and you post your own point of view, which is fine, but I think the response is inappropriate.

        WOAP should be encouraging a respectful debate but you seem to be instead attacking the right of other fans to hold certain opinions you disagree with, not the first time WOAP writers have done this in posts or below the line on this site. I agree that some people elsewhere have used some disgraceful language in putting their view across but the comment you’re replying to is perfectly reasonable. By trying to police the opinions of other fans (or their public expression), you’re taking away from the value you provide to fans around the world.

      • Hi Mal

        Thnaks for your comments and point is taken on board about the response. Jay is indeed entitled to his views but I don’t think that comments like “sunday league football is of the old school management”, “If Hanson is the future of BCFC we will never progress” and “Wake up and stop going down with the ship” are constructive.

        To be honest the debate is beyond WOAP and the sort of stuff I have read via other sources that have seen some horrendous things said about PP and I find it beyond the pale. I would really like to see supporters who want a change of manager (Jay included) to put forward a logical and constructive case that outlines their argument. I probably wouldn’t agree with it personally, but I would respect it. All I have seen is people call him nasty names, moan about trivial little things and go on about one win in 21. But I see a football club that has given the manager a three year contract and can only conclude that there is a (welcome) long-term mindset at the club that covers more than 21 games.

        The latest garbage I read this morning was someone arguing “If we ignore that Parkinson took us to Wembley twice, would you want him as manager now?” which is basically saying lets overlook the positives and achievements of someone and only judge them only on their negatives. If this is the best reasoning that people who want PP out can come up with then they should they be listened to?

        I’ve no problem with Jay or whoever expressing his view that PP should go and WOAP is his platform, but I do have a problem with the way this argument is being expressed at this moment.

      • Hi Jason,

        Thanks for getting back to me. To me the “PP out” argument doesn’t seem particularly logical or constructive either. The main priority is staying up, which given our position in the table, points tally and the lack of games actually being lost looks very likely. If we changed managers now, our chances of an upturn in form would be far from certain, and our chances of finding a “better” manager at this time of year even worse.

        But I do understand the emotional reaction of fans who don’t like seeing the team like this. Our football team carries a lot of our pride, hope and dreams when they play, and it can hurt when we don’t see what we look for in them (which varies from person to person).

  8. Oh ye of little faith! This is a decent and accurate reflection on events, but even implicitly to suggest that the board need to consider the situation if this carries on for a few more games worries me. Have we learnt nothing from the last ten years? Parky is a good manager and he needs time to rebuild; losing wells, Davies and Reid would damage any team, let alone one with shallow depth. Now is the time to get fully behind him, not question his capabilities.

  9. I whole heartedly agree with your post.

    Ah the wonder of the internet- where a few ill informed people can post poorly researched and shoddily presented arguments!

    Jason, keep up the great work for all the silent majority who support the City! and Parkinson’s Bradford Army!

  10. I guess the crumb of comfort we can take from all this is that of the 11 comments only 1 is calling for the manager to be sacked. I hope this is representative of the fan base in general. Clearly, given our experience over the last 10 years, changing the manager is the last thing we should be considering.

    My fear is that we are very good at learning from our mistakes – we can repeat them almost perfectly…..

  11. We need to take a calm and measured approach insulting the players and the manager is not going to help anybody and will only serve to reduce their shattered confidence further.

    Parkinson’s is an intelligent manager losing Wells, Reid , Davies and crucially Meredith would have had a huge impact on any team. Statistically our win record with Davies and Meredith in the same team is impressive and I am certain this will be the case upon his return! It’s all down to confidence unfortunately PP is losing his and that is resulting in him playing safe and losing/drawing games that we have the capability to win. We need to show our support to the team and manager and encourage bold leadership !

    Take a risk PP and play Atkinson you will face much less criticism than sticking to type and picking a defensive Thompson. Some of the views re Hanson are beyond belief his contribution week in and week out is outstanding he has one bad game and suddenly he is not good enough ! How we respond and support the team over the next few weeks will have ramifications beyond this season. Players like Derby will reflect on how we have supported them through the good times and more importantly the bad before deciding to sign new contracts or move on. Keep the faith and support the club.

  12. I didn’t see the game but I’ve seen a fair few in our (relatively) bad run and the failings have been consistent: defensive mistakes, failure to create chances, squandering possession cheaply with aimless punts. These issues are with the whole team, it’s systematic, so explanations based on the performance/ability/departure/effort of individual players don’t give the full picture.

    As I’ve said a lot recently, changing managers would be a risky and expensive choice, but I would say these weaknesses on the level of the team are suggest the coaching and match preparation are not what they could be. I wonder whether the team would benefit from PP bringing another coach into the setup to work on some of these issues. Some new ideas and methods may help the team to sort some of these weaknesses.

  13. Recent performances have not been good enough but sacking the manager is not the answer. Buying a ticket and going to support them at Coventry is the answer. Lets be positive, stick together and we will get through it. Parkie needs our support more than ever. Lets give it to him.

  14. Hi Guys

    Good to see the board has different opinions. Thanks for the support guys. And I repect others point of view. I know it is difficult to manage a team and a lot easier for us guys to comment, but I just hope Parky is trying to change our style long term. Yes stability is key to success, but it depends on what you are happy with watching a team long term.

    If we look at Sunderland. Yes they are in the prem and still in the mire, but the way they play, you can see a brave breeze of freshness employed by Poyet. Moving the ball on the floor, gives the team a dynamo effect (energy not magician lol) where the short passing consistency of play keeps all the team on their toes, engaged as participants and hungry for the ball. This was a team with fans who were down and out and now you can see a new breeze of confidence in the club. Then there is West Ham in a similar position. Allerdice. Without Andy Carroll doesn’t get results usually (yes a couple recently). The fans are bored fed up and hate the football served up. People will argue West Ham have moved clear, but I know which club i would like to watch, even if relegated, as you see long term a attractive successful outcome and I believe that Poyet will be at Sunderland longer than Allerdice.

    Let me explain a bit more. Regarding my comments about Hanson, yes, I don’t think he is my style of player, and I appreciate his efforts. But I don’t think playing long balls to him as a battering ram helps him either. I wish we could move the ball quicker for him to run onto balls in the 18 yard box, so we see more of his number, with him attacking the ball facing the goal, rather than his usual back to Goal.

    I appreciate I may have been a bit passionate about things, but the thing that frustrates me is we can play football, we do it occasionally. But…the way we set up mostly is uninspiring. The army of fans we have are amazing, so we deserve a infectious game to make the Valley a fortress. We have the fans to boss home games if we are on the edge of our seats buzzing.

    Some people go and don’t care as long as we win, where I love the game, and believe we are not playing the beautiful game that’s all. Yes we don’t have the resources, but the players we have could play football. Over 30 years ive loved to follow Bradford City, but the game is changing and we need to keep up. Swansea showed even at the bottom of the leagues, you can play football, entertain and be successful with the right phylosophy.

    I believe that players like, Yeats (who is a quality player technically, who’s attributes would be amazing in the hole, as a free role around the 18 yard box, playing into channels, playing diagonal balls in to wingers in behind etc is not being used to his potential. But I suppose hes a bit lazy defending so his attributes are not taking seriously. Also playing in a team who cant play to feet, or put into space anticipating movement before the player arrives, makes him look an idiot a lot. To condition a unpredictable free flowing system, you cant play it for a game then change back to static lines.

    E.G. Brentford still threw the ball out short and played football when we were hammering them at the beginning of the season, as they were still working on their game, conditioning the format, even in defeat….and look at them now.

    I can see a bit of promise with the new loan players adding energy, but it seems the static lines of formation, put too much on certain players to beat 3 or 4 men to open any play up, when a few nice combinations of triangle play would be more effective.

    Although I am a FA coach and no way a manager, I believe more in developing players and having a football philosophy that promotes ball play. If your teaching kids to base the game plan on defending or attacking as the phylosophy of their game, they are more inspired, work harder and enjoy the game when the principal is to play football. They actually defend better as they are less willing to give away the effort of their creative play. If they just play wanting to restrict the other team, they are not gaining any sense of achievement, only fear of the opposition. It is the same if kids or adults, only the environment dictates style, only the philosophy and the bravery instills belief.

    I don’t have to balance the books at City so its easy for me. But…..I will still be there whatever. There is nothing saying, I, you or the club are correct, but all we have is our instinct and point of view, I hope mine is proven wrong and we gain confidence and turn on the style.

    I hope Parky turns it around, although the football is not great doesn’t mean he is a bad manager, the directors and everyone at the club are doing their best, I just hope we can make it more attractive at some point :-)

    Thank you. Come on City!

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