Finding what’s missing as City travel to Torquay United

Heavy rain at kick off

Torquay United vs Bradford City match preview

@Plainmoor on Monday 1 April, 2013

By Ian Sheard

So still only one defeat since Wembley. However, it would appear that the lack of goalscorers is not so much an on-going issue, but the chief reason why we have not cemented our place in the play offs. Fans may argue that the money gained from League Cup games should have been spent on a Paul Benson-type striker, who would happily knock in 10-15 goals required – as that is what we are lacking at the moment. As a result, most of our games are resulting in a draw.

I myself have questioned Phil Parkinson’s motives for not bringing in a goalscorer in January, but, on reflection, I can maybe see where he is coming from. I had a discussion with my friends during the first half of Southend, as the game itself did not offer much else to focus on. We came up with the following arguments.

  1. The cup run is enough for the season, physically and mentally for the players, fans and staff alike, the players have maybe settled for this based on previous years performances and, knowing we are safe, have taken the foot off the gas. The club can use the money for next season to build on a promotion-winning squad. Parkinson believes this and has saved his budget until then.
  2. Unlike the traditional January high street sales, prices are inflated for players during the mid-season transfer window. Why pay top dollar for a player that could be on a free at the end of it?
  3. Unfortunately, strikers who can score 20 goals a season are heavily in demand and therefore cost money.
  4. Our goal difference is amongst the top 10 in the league. The main reason for this is our defence and this is perhaps where Parkinson wants to build from.
  5. We have the strikers already!

With reference to my fifth point I think this is the strongest argument. I’m not an advocate of having a go at players and try not to even when they are having a nightmare of a game, and this especially includes our strikers. Rather than get rid of the current forwards, I feel as though City are better off spending their money on a midfielder who can score and provide goals. What a shame we let David Syers go!

I counted the total number of quality crosses that were delivered into the area, when sufficient bodies were in the box, and, unfortunately, it was way below what I expected. As were the number of decent shooting chances from midfield. This is where I believe the problem lies and where we need to spend in summer, providing we can keep James Hanson, Nahki Wells and Alan Connell. A decent midfielder always seems cheaper than a striker, as Gary Jones has proven this season.

So Easter Monday and a chance to maybe rectify the wrongs of Friday. But if you are Parkinson, what do you do?

The back four for me were largely okay, although I think James Meredith struggled at times. It may be that Parkinson goes with Rory McArdle and Michael Nelson at centre back against a physical Torquay side. Midfield-wise, do you stay the same or go with Garry Thompson and Zavon Hines on the wing, or play Will Atkinson and Nathan Doyle ahead of Hines and Kyel Reid, in order to keep possession and create chances from the middle of the park? Hanson and Wells will probably start up front.

Torquay are four points off the drop and will want to try and get an early goal. So perhaps keeping the ball and frustrating them is the key. So many times we have seen teams do this to us a Valley Parade and maybe it’s time we did the same to others? Alternatively, going for it, by playing two wingers, whilst running the risk of leaving ourselves exposed at the back, might be the key to winning. Headaches for Parkinson, and it’s probably where I went wrong on Football Manager!

Whatever Parkinson does it will win and lose favour with different City fans. But as his contract still hangs in limbo, I leave you with the following:

  1. We are very unlikely to make the play offs or got promoted, but who would swap that fantastic cup run for promotion?
  2. 11 months ago when we last played Torquay at Plainmoor it was the other way round – we were the ones fighting against relegation.
  3. We have a decent SQUAD of players, unlike previous seasons; and I enjoy the fact each City fan has their own starting XI and way of playing. Surely this is due to Parkinson?
  4. We are safe!
  5. Parkinson is the best manager we have had at this club for a long time, and we would be stupid to let him go.
  6. There is a foundation to build on for next season and money in the kitty, we need to be patient.

Win or lose tomorrow I doubt we make the play offs. But we still need to give a good account of ourselves, as the focus begins to turn towards next season.

Jason McKeown note: Width of a Post will be carrying a match report of City’s game at Torquay, but it is likely to appear a day or two later than usual – depending on how much Real Ale our match reporter can find in Devon!

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