2013/14 season preview: Is the weather nice in League 1?

SAM_1095

By Alex Scott

To kick off the build up to the start of the exciting new League One (!) campaign, a handful of Width of a Post writers have taken to the pundit chair to answer a series of Bradford City-related questions. The comments are open below for you to have your say, and check back throughout the week for extensive build up to the big kick off.

 

What are your hopes for this season?

Jason McKeown

I’m looking forward to watching this team adapt to a higher level and hopefully continue to perform successfully. It feels a bit like a film sequel where the heroes of the original are off on another adventure. It’s unlikely to be as exciting as the last movie, but hopefully it will prove to be more ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ than ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’.

Katie Whyatt

I just want to see some good performances from Bradford: for us to carry on this momentum and thereby show that we can be a very strong League One side. Parkinson has done the hard bit by dragging the Bantams out of the doldrums and revolutionising the mentality of the team, so we need to maintain that push onwards. I’m not expecting back-to-back promotions (although that would be nice), but a mid-table to top-half finish, pushing for the play offs, is where I’ve got my sights set.

Elsewhere, I hope that Crawley Town’s football is a lot easier on the eye now that he-who-must-not-be-named is no longer running things there.

Mark Scully

My hopes are that we can continue to move forward as a football club. Last season was special and will never be repeated or bettered in my eyes. I honestly believe we can push hard for a play off place if Wells and Hanson can continue their excellent partnership and the Bermudian can again be prolific in front of goal. We will need to stay clear of injuries and suspensions, but player-for-player, apart from the goalkeeper at the moment, the starting eleven we have would get into most teams in this division. After that eleven it does weaken, and that could prove our downfall.

I’d like to think we can be consistent enough for a top six finish but to be fair I’d also be happy with a top half table finish. I would be disappointed if we ended up in a relegation dogfight because I believe we are far better than that. If come May we finish, say 10th or 11th, but have flirted with the play offs then I’ll view that as a very successful first season back in League One.

Ian Hemmens

My hope is that we have a season where we can continue to see the club progress forward under Phil Parkinson. He has instilled a new professionalism and spirit not seen for years. Basically, a move forward from last year without compromising our financial state too much.

Joe Cockburn

I hope we give it a go, free from distraction. If that is the case, I think we can really push for the play offs. I hope that Nahki Wells doesn’t go into his shell in a higher division, and struggle for form like he did towards the end of last season. I also hope that when the team goes through a sticky patch, which it definitely will, the fans remember where we have come in the last year or so and stick with it.

Alex Scott

Steady as she goes. A boring, nothing season will do me just fine. A tough early run will prove a good barometer for the fans in working out where we actually stand as a team in this division. Right now I have no idea. I hope that we can challenge, and I hope these players are as good as I think they are. I hope they can challenge for the play offs. I hope they can compete. But all I really want is this positivity to continue. That will do me. And beating Sheff U would be pretty good.

Nick Beanland

I hope that the third era of Bantam Progressivism continues to gather pace. For the first time since the Jewell era I feel completely confident in the management team. Phil Parkinson is clearly a clever, hard-working man and he’s surrounded himself with staff and players in his image. Even when this team doesn’t win you know it’s not for a lack of effort or planning on his part.

What are your fears?

Katie Whyatt

The unknown. League Two, for all its obscurity, mediocrity, sloppiness and general imperfections, was comfortable in the sense that you just about knew what to expect – you knew each team’s style and the names of the opposing players, and one could predict, with reasonable accuracy, which clubs would be chasing the play offs and which would be flirting with relegation. But League One? It’s frighteningly exotic. For me, it’s uncharted waters. Until Parkinson spectacularly steadied the rapidly sinking ship, City success was an unfamiliar concept to me, and it’s only in the cups that I’ve ever seen the Bantams stretch beyond the confines of this fourth tier.

Are MK Dons a long-ball team? How will we cope with the demands of a higher division over a 46-game season? Which teams should I watch out for? Is the weather nice in League One?

I strongly believe that we’ve got the quality in our squad – especially with the new signings – to seriously establish ourselves there, but it’s still an alien world. I’ve seen teams get promoted and plummet straight back down again, yo-yoing between divisions as promotion and relegation juxtapose each other, and, whilst I don’t think for a minute that we’ll endure this scenario, we can’t guarantee it. It’s not knowing what lies in wait that’s scaring me.

Joe Cockburn

I don’t have any to be honest. This season can’t go wrong for us, because I think the primary aim is to stay in League One, which will happen, 100% without doubt. There may be a fear that perhaps we haven’t brought in enough fresh blood and even higher quality, Mark Yeates being the only one really so far.

Nick Beanland

My fears are:

1. Phil Parkinson is snatched by a club further up the league ladder.

2. Injuries. Our high quality but small squad would be severely tested if we lost key players. Mind you, the same applied last season and we coped reasonably well.

3. Expectation. I hope the crowd appreciate that we’ve stepped up a level and, despite having a fine team, this season is our first back in the third tier for seven years. It won’t be easy.

Alex Scott

That we aren’t as good as I think we are. Having a positive vibe about the place has made this last year so much fun, but if things take a turn early, I worry for what will await in the second half of the season. I like these guys, and I like the manager, and really don’t want that to change. They do carry the aura of superheroes after what they achieved last season. They were understandably shown mortal against Swansea, but I’d be sad to see that regularly in League One. I think they’re good enough, I’m actually quite convinced, but I’m afraid of the alternative.

Mark Scully

I’m not sure I fear very much in League One. Obviously it will be a tougher division compared to that of League Two, however on numerous occasions teams have gone up into League One and done very well with some even getting back-to-back promotions, and others consolidating in mid-table. Apart from the very top 2-3 teams I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between Leagues One and Two.

Ian Hemmens

I don’t think we will be out of our depth but my fear is with a smallish squad, a few long-term injuries could see us hit a rocky patch.

Jason McKeown

Momentum stalling and progress reversing. The club’s two prize assets are Nahki Wells and Phil Parkinson. If they each continue to impress, expect further interest. I’d be more confident about life after Nahki given the transfer fee he will command, but losing Parkinson would leave us with a huge decision that I’d worry we would get wrong.

 ireland 2

What are your thoughts on the summer transfer activity?

Mark Scully

The main worry for me was who would leave the club with the likes of Davies and Doyle out of contract, so the major plus was the fact they re-signed. Hopefully Nahki Wells will stay although I still believe he might leave before the window slams shut at the end of August. The arrival of Jason Kennedy is a good one. I’m not sure he’ll start ahead of Doyle and Jones at the start of the season but we have to be realistic when it comes to Jones. Is he going to play every game in League One? I’d suggest no, meaning Kennedy will get enough game time and is probably seen as a long term replacement for the magic man.

The other arrival to date, Mark Yeates, looks to be a superb signing. Him and Thompson on the wings are very good and his arrival fills a weak spot in the team from last season which was the left wing. Kyel Reid has flattered to deceive, and on occasions looks the part but can be equally frustrating with his numerous wayward crosses. I still think we need a proper No.1, I’m personally not convinced on Jonny Mac’s ability to be our first choice keeper. Neither am I that impressed with the likes of the trialists Gary Woods nor Brian Jensen. If we could land Lee Camp who has been mentioned, then superb, but I can’t see that happening

Nick Beanland

It’s been a little quieter than I’d expected but I’m delighted to see the vast majority of last year’s squad remain. Jason Kennedy and particularly Mark Yeates should prove very capable at this level. I would love Jon McLaughlin to prove himself this year; he’s had six years with us now and has yet to fully convince one of his many managers that he is a nailed on first choice. Now or never Jonny…

Katie Whyatt

Mark Yeates and Jason Kennedy look really, really good: the former seems tidy and reliable, while Yeates, though I’ve not watched him play, sounds like some sort of demigod – there’s creativity and finesse to every aspect of his game, and I’m excited about seeing him in action.

My only concern would be that we haven’t signed any left or right backs. Should Meredith or Darby sustain injuries, there are plenty of centre halves who could fill in (McArdle and McHugh have both proven themselves capable in these positions.), but it’s still disconcerting to think that we haven’t otherwise got much depth in terms of out-and-out or overlapping full backs

Joe Cockburn

It has been a bit lacking for me. I am not too happy with the goalkeeper situation, as I would prefer to see less effort being put in to sign a top keeper, as I think it is about time Parkinson kept faith with Jon McLaughlin who was excellent for the majority of last season. I think Mark Yeates looks a class act and as a result Kyel Reid I think will struggle to get in the team this year, which could incur a negative reaction. I like Jason Kennedy but am disappointed Scott Brown has been let go. Hopefully Raffaele de Vita joins along with another defender. And, of course, we are all disappointed Vincent Acapandie wasn’t signed up. Even if just for the name…

Alex Scott

I’m content with it. I like these guys, I wanted as many to come back as possible. The surprise of keeping hold of Nahki Wells (for the moment) is a real boost, and the few players that have been brought in look of a good quality, and look to fit with the squad already established. Signing players for the sake of it has been the downfall of many newly-promoted sides, and betrays an anxiety over the calibre of players already there. I have faith in these guys, and we can infer from this summer that Parkinson does as well. Hopefully that faith, and that belief will flow through the players, and they can prove their manager right in his strategy.

Ian Hemmens

So far, the signings have been solid and reliable, if not spectacular, which is a mirror of the manager’s work ethic and ethos of a ‘team’ effort. As of writing this we need another keeper and I would sign another two or so players, but apart from that I’m quite satisfied.

Jason McKeown

The unfortunate reality for Phil Parkinson is that it will be criticised retrospectively if City are struggling near the bottom of the table. Think of Man City last season and the assumption they failed to retain the Premier League title because of a lack of team strengthening.

I do believe that the priority of retaining the squad was the right approach by Parkinson, and you look at the likes of Andrew Davies, Nathan Doyle and James Hanson and see a strong team spine. I’m disappointed we have let Will Atkinson and Zavon Hines leave, but it looks as though it has led to improvement in the shape of new arrivals Mark Yeates and, hopefully, Raffaele de Vita.

The squad looks small in number but that was the case last season. With the option to bring in loans when required, we should be good enough to make some sort of impression in League One.

What are you not going to miss about League Two?

Katie Whyatt

Saying that we’re in ‘the basement division’; knowing that we’re one tier away from non-league; knowing that relegation would most likely lead to extinction and the club having to leave Valley Parade; defeats at the hands of poxy London teams (telling people that we lost to Barnet at the weekend has never rolled off the tongue); Bradford’s status as the biggest club in the league giving opponents that extra incentive to beat us; Accrington Stanley outplaying us; people who have never seen lower league football professing that Akinfenwa is the best player in the division. And, most of all, being the last set of games shown on The Football League Show – absolute nightmare!

Jason McKeown

I enjoyed many aspects of League Two, but by the end the regular opposition time-wasting tactics and managers making distorted post-match claims grew wearisome. Accrington’s Leam Richardson stood out as the worst offender after our Boxing Day win, and I found myself willing for Stanley to be relegated just to teach him a lesson.

Much of this opposition approach was down to our status as the division’s largest club and I’m looking forward to no longer being the big fish in the small pond.

Nick Beanland

I will not miss the arrogant attitude of some of our fans who seem to think we are a massive club and that League Two is beneath us. Hopefully they won’t think the same about League One (though I won’t hold my breath).

Mark Scully

Absolutely nothing. The novelty value of visiting ‘small clubs’ and different grounds that normally we might not have had the pleasure of making a trip to had long worn off. I suppose if I really have to pick something, I might miss the pies at Morecambe. They were always a treat to look forward to!

Joe Cockburn

Little rubbish teams coming to Valley Parade and playing for and getting a point, I hope in League One that there will be no teams who will come and bring us down to their level, as teams in League Two have done.

Alex Scott

Apart from never seeing highlights before one in the morning, I actually quite enjoyed League Two. I don’t really know why, but I quite liked the teams, and a number of other aspects of the division. The thing I won’t miss is the ominously looming trapdoor. If things go wrong this year, at least there is a safety net, the stakes aren’t as perilously high. The anxiety over “what may come” if the club were relegated was tortuous at times, and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Ian Hemmens

I will miss the fans. I will miss the clubs themselves. To me, these are genuine honest fans and clubs, proper football fans. I find myself growing further away from the horrible hype and greed-driven Premier League with every year. The sycophantic media coverage of the Premier League sickens me, whereas the fans of the lower league sides just seem to get on with their support without the reward or backslapping sought by the top club supporters.

 SAM_0097

What are you looking forward to most about this season?

Mark Scully

Playing some big teams, with games against the likes of Wolves, Sheffield United, Coventry and Preston all to look forward to. Generally the atmosphere should be better at Valley Parade as the away followings will be a lot bigger than those of League Two sides and it gives what I view as a very good Bradford side a great opportunity to show everyone that we not only belong in this league, but we also belong higher up the Football League ladder.

Ian Hemmens

Just seeing new teams, new fans and a genuine excitement that the club is finally moving forward again after so many years in the doldrums. The fact that we are no longer the ‘big fish’ in the division could play in our favour and possibly see us sneak under the radar of most tipsters and critics and have a very satisfactory season.

Jason McKeown

Home matches against teams who will bring large away followings. It used to be depressing observing the likes of Dagenham and Barnet bring less than 100 fans to Valley Parade; you could barely hear them. To have the Bradford End and part of the Midland Road stand packed out with opposition supporters will not only be good for the coffers, it will spark the best out of us home fans and result in some cracking atmospheres.

I’m also really looking forward to going to Wolves away in February – it will be my first visit to Molineux since City were promoted to the Premier League in 1999. Part of me never wants to go back in order to preserve those incredible memories, but it would be nice to re-live them.

Joe Cockburn

Not playing the likes of Dagenham, Accrington, Fleetwood and Wimbledon, not to mention not having to see Kevin Ellison’s ugly mug at VP again. There are some decent away games to look forward to too, Sheffield United, Preston and Wolves especially.

Nick Beanland

I’m looking forward to watching this team grow. It’s full of players who can develop with the club and potentially go on to represent us at a higher level. A few new away trips will be nice too.

Alex Scott

I’m most looking forward to playing some new teams. I liked a lot of the teams in League Two, but being able to open your campaign at Ashton Gate, as well as trips to Molineux and Bramall Lane definitely give something to look forward to. I’m also emotionally invested in these players, and am really excited to see them have a crack at the next level, and continue their career progression.

Katie Whyatt

Primarily, just getting to see some football again! We all got so emotionally and mentally invested in City last season – what with the cup run and the promotion and the media coverage and the never-say-die squad and Wigan and Arsenal and Aston Villa and the penalties and Phil Parkinson and Gary Jones and Wembley twice – that it came as quite a shock to the system when it wrapped up. I’ve been salivating for some action since, so it will be great to get back into the swing of going down to Valley Parade again – especially as we will be welcoming, lest we forget, Sheffield United and Wolves.

Advertisements


Categories: Season Preview

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. From all the contributors there seems to be a general air of quiet optimism that we will do ok and go about our business in a professional manner, basically just as PP has installed in the team. No one seems fearful of a bad season apart from worries over a few major injuries so lets all get ready for the ride and enjoy the season with OUR team

  2. I am quietly optimistic that we’ll hold our own and a top half finish is achievable. My fears are that if Nahki leaves we’ll struggle for goals and lack the pace he brings which Hanson, Connell and Gray don’t in their locker. Connell in my mind is a decent player and may benefit from the step up with his ability on the ball and footballing brain but he is a very different player to Nahki. I really hope that fans will be realistic with their expectations and likewise the Board, if things don’t go to plan I urge everyone concerned to stick with the team and management as we have seen the consequences of knee jerk reactions in the not too distant past. Most of all let’s enjoy the season and give it our all.

  3. I’m slightly surprised that nobody has mentioned Nick Allamby by name. In my opinion, the superior fitness of the squad last season was just as important as the improved attitude instilled by the management team. Together, they contributed directly to our run to the League Cup Final, and to us being able to pick ourselves back up again to have a crack at the playoffs. We will therefore be able to hit the ground running, mentally and physically. Momentum is everything, and I can see no reason not to be very optimistic.

%d bloggers like this: