Dear disgruntled Bradford City supporters


By Jim Nicholson

Dear disgruntled Bradford City supporters,

I have reached my limit and I need to air my grievances. This is an open letter to anyone who has the remotest interest in the well being of Bradford City AFC.

Since beating Arsenal in December, the mood amongst 99% of us has been positive. We enjoyed the thrills and spills of the League Cup and ignored the bellyaches caused by our stuttering league form. Since the final, however, reality has dawned and the united front is no more, we are now at war with each other.

The issues and reactions change daily, every debate started in the true belief that this is the one thing that is preventing us from getting promotion. We all want the same thing, we’re all trying to pull in the same direction; but as with anything we all interpret things in a very different way. So what are the issues? And what are the answers?

Why does Parkinson rotate so much? Is he a tactically inept buffoon? Why can’t we beat teams at the bottom of the league? What has Alan Connell got to do to start a game? What’s wrong with Nahki? Is Andy Gray a cart horse? Where are the missing 20,000?

Here is my view…

On rotation

The squad that started the season was small, we all knew that – we needed luck with injuries, we didn’t get it. The unbelievable performance in the cups has meant our players have competed in more games than any other team in the country, apart from Chelsea.

No matter what anyone thinks, playing 60 games in a season will affect the performance of any player at any level, which is why we see such a strict rotation policy. Just because our cup run is over it does not mean that our players are 100% fit – we are still playing twice a week, and will continue to do so until mid April. For me, rotation is imperative until our schedule calms down next month.

On tactics

I’m not an advocate of Parkinson’s conservative style of football, but it is designed to combat the agricultural nature of League Two football. I understand that, but I still find it painful to watch. I would prefer us to better utilise the players with high technical ability and play a fluid passing game, but I simply don’t think that would help us get out of this division.

There are calls for us to change formation, to play a 4-3-3 or something more fashionable, but in a league that is stuck tactically in the 1970s, this would be a pointless exercise. 4-4-2 (or a diamond variant of that) is as good as it will get. We all may as well get used to it, because it isn’t going to change any time soon.

On results

In this division, all of the teams are capable of beating each other on any given Saturday – it is extremely tight from top to bottom and a change in form can see a side move up or down the table in quite dramatic fashion. To expect us to beat a team based on league standing alone is naïve – there is no discernable difference between the majority of the teams, only their current form.

The difference between success and failure is usually a mistake and very rarely individual brilliance. A missed header, a cruel deflection, a spurned opportunity – these are game changers, and in a league as tough as this, you cannot predict how things will turn out.

On Connell

I like Alan Connell. He’s probably our most technically gifted player and seems to have the vision and movement to stand out from the everyday League Two footballer. However, he is currently being lauded to such a level that I’m reminded of Ross Hannah’s final days, his reputation seemingly growing by not actually playing.

I actually think Connell is better served as an impact player – his clever play making the most of the space afforded by a tiring defence. I think he would struggle if played from the start, as he doesn’t possess the key attributes that makes players like Wells (pace) or Hanson/Thompson (strength, aerial ability) such key components of a League Two side. I actually think he would be better suited to the pace and style of League One.

On Nahki

I’m torn on this situation – part of me thinks it’s a temporary blip in form, natural for any young striker. The other, more cynical, side thinks that he knows he’s leaving in the summer and has all but given up. In reality it’s probably a mix of the two. The attention and praise he received as part of the cup run was over the top in my opinion, but when you look at his record over the season it is very impressive.

Nahki’s the one in two striker we’ve been pining for, but unfortunately he’s enduring a lean spell at the moment. I’d certainly expect a strong finish from him as soon as that next goal arrives. I’d like to see him stay another season with us as I think he’s still developing as a footballer and he might struggle if he takes the jump to a higher division too soon. That said, I believe he will leave in the summer and if we get offered good money, I would have no problems with us accepting it.

On Andy Gray

Turning us down in the summer seems to have riled a few people. Turning us down in the summer for Leeds is criminal to some people. I actually thought he was another astute Parkinson signing when it was announced in January, but it really hasn’t turned out that way. I don’t think we can discount fitness as a contributing factor to his poor form, but I would have to agree with other writers when they say he is currently our fifth best striker, and starting him ahead of Hanson, Wells and Connell at Plymouth was a mistake.

However, I would hope to see a completely different player if he stays into next season.

On the missing fans

I’m one of them. I live in London so I rarely get to games apart from the odd away fixture, but I’ve supported the club all my life. I won’t be taking a season ticket next year, or the year after that, but I’ll always go when I’m home. I won’t be posting in the comments section of the T&A and have given up on the #bcafc hashtag, but I’m writing here now. Does this mean I’m any less of a fan?

I know a lot of it is ‘banter’, but there will be a sizeable portion of the fans at Wembley who have valid reasons why they don’t go to the bread and butter league games, and to be honest, I don’t blame them. Each season ticket holder had three tickets for Wembley and I’m pretty certain none of those went to waste – so if you are wondering where the missing fans are, first you should call the two people you bought tickets for.

The debate will no doubt continue long into the summer, but the one thing we cannot afford to do is allow our own opinions to cause an atmosphere that is detrimental to the performance of the team. Now is the time to stick together.

By all means vent after the game, because reaction and opinion are part of what makes football so fantastic. We all invest so much (financially and emotionally) that when it doesn’t work out as we want we feel personally aggrieved. We all think we know better than Phil Parkinson, we all think we know better than each other, and that is fine, but for 90 minutes on a Saturday (or a Tuesday) put those opinions to one side and support the team you love.

Yours in hope,

A BradfordCity supporter

Categories: Opinion

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10 replies

  1. What a good article

  2. I think most sensible genuine fans have the same grievances as you Jim. Good write up, cheers.

  3. The quality of these articles on width of a post are premier lge!
    Mark’s article has caused a massive debate in our local pub !! 🙂 lol we all were split down the middle .
    Getting bk to the Connell debate !
    Does not Nathan Doyle offer Phil Parkinson the same vision from his passing from midfield as Alan Connell would ?
    Agree Doyle won’t offer the same goal threat as Connell however should we experiment with a 4-4-1-1 formation ? Leave Hanson or thommo upfront and use Connell to feed of one of those big lads? I think Connell is one intelligent player who could look for the flick ons and there hold up play!.
    Sadly I think Phil Parkinson has made his mind up and we’re now seeing Connell on the bench .
    Some say he’s another Ross Hannah ? Not for me Ross was a box player Connell has far more to his game than Ross had.
    It’s been a great season one that will stay with me forever the wembley trip etc.

    • Agree on your Connell point 100%.

      • Not only is Connell more suited to L1 but I think the whole team is more suited to playing at a higher level against better teams. We’ve proven that but just need to get there. I am in no doubt that this squad would be more than comfortable in at least one division up.

  4. Agree for the most part. We certainly need to stick together and its in the best interests of everyone that we get Parkinson nailed down to a new deal. Despite recent league form, this is the first time in the best part 12 years we are on the up – it would be stupid to throw that away over a 2-3 month blip which still leaves us in a respectable league position. Plus, there’s no obvious high quality candidate out there who would necessarily do better in the long term.

    I disagree slightly on your tactics piece as we do need a variant on 442 and with the players we have, I think 4231/4411 would suit us. In a 442, to often there is a gap between our central midfield and 2 up top as Jones and Doyle play horizontally without offering a vertical thrust, this is where I think Connell should be played to link the midfield and attack better, especially with at least one pacy winger running beyond.

    But generally a good article. As a club we are in healthy position and this needs to be maintained, with Parkinson at the helm.

  5. Good article Jimmy, I think that City would play better if you had your haircut though, and gave it to me!

  6. I don’t mean this in any way against you, I 100% agree with most of the article, especially the bit about the “missing fans” BUT, maybe if you went to games you would see why we are so angry/frustrated. It isn’t a pleasant thing to watch my friend.

    • It’s frustrating Joe because we dominate teams but don’t have the luck or killer instinct in front of goal.
      I remember when we we’re second best in games .

  7. I’ve never really understood what the gripe is about the “missing fans”.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think we have circa 7,000 season ticket holders and our home gate is around the 10,000 mark. That means around 3,000 fans turn up on the day. Clearly they don’t turn up every week otherwise they’d be season ticket holders. Its not rocket science to suggest that a different 3,000 fans turn up at VP on any given week from the ones that pitched up the previous week, and they might be a different set to those attending the following week. If you asked the question how many people visited VP at least once this season you’d probably find many of your “missing fans”.

    Its not that they are missing, its just they don’t all come on the same week!

    But even putting all that aside its only natural that more people come to watch a successful side. Do Man City have more fans this year than they did when they were in League 1? Do Man U get more fans now than when they were in Division 2 in the mid 70’s or when they were poor in the 80’s.

    Those us of a certain vintage will remember playing against Chelsea in the old second division. I think they have more supporters now – maybe they have found the missing ones! I remember Carlisle being in the top flight, (now I’m really showing my age). A lot of them have gone “missing”. Has anyone called the police?

    We’ll find our missing fans when we can put a sustained run together and have a real tilt at promotion by playing good football. We’re the best supported club in the league. Lets celebrate the fact not moan about those who don’t come.

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