Response required as Bradford City host Brentford

David Lawrence

Bradford City vs Brentford preview

@Valley Parade on Saturday 7 September, 2013

By Joe Cockburn

It was around this time last year that we Bradford City fans travelled in our thousands full of hope and optimism as we paid our first visit to Rotherham’s New York Stadium.

We all know what happened that day.

It came, however, in very similar fashion to this Tuesday’s shock 5-0 defeat to League Two Hartlepool in the JPT. Many have offered that as a reason not to be concerned about the game at Victoria Park.

I would perhaps argue otherwise. While, thankfully, it was only a cup game (although I personally fancied a run in the JPT) it does bring up a few concerns. Without wanting to sound too negative of our clearly fantastic team, I’m not sure if our squad as a whole is good enough to compete in League One. And Phil Parkinson perhaps echoed these beliefs in the week, saying he was waiting for Premier League clubs to announce their 25 man squads before looking at loan deals.

The likes of Jason Kennedy and Matt Taylor perhaps don’t look quite up to it yet, Ricky Ravenhill and Alan Connell possibly lacking in the ability required to perform at this level, not to mention Parkinson’s preference of Carl McHugh as back up left back rather than back up centre back.

I’ll start with that. Carl McHugh, the man who perhaps most epitomised last season for City in its own microcosm. Unexpectedly coming in to play his first professional game at centre back against Wigan, and keeping a clean sheet, before performing unbelievably against Arsenal and Aston Villa, not to mention his excellent league form along the way. Why did he come into this season as fifth choice centre back even behind Nathan Doyle, with Luke Oliver still to come into the equation? It also begs the question why we didn’t sign a young left back purely as cover?

Surely last season deserved a bit of faith in him. It actually angers me a bit how Parkinson has almost neglected him in his plans for this season, starting with only giving him a one year deal. If Oli McBurnie’s form at the start of this season warrants a three year contract, surely McHugh deserves at least that for his form throughout last season?

Matt Taylor was brought in as seemingly a good signing as Michael Nelson was shipped out. But Nelson looked a bit of a pointless signing in the first place (before James Meredith fell ill), so why did he need replacing in the summer?

Taylor played his first game at Huddersfield and didn’t look too convincing, although he was playing against Premier League standard James Vaughan. But those five goals at Hartlepool don’t look good next to his name.

So onto the matter at hand, the Brentford game, and we are left with the dilemma of Rory McArdle’s international call up. It is a bit of a shame because Rory has been superb for us this season so far. But, unless he is allowed back to Bradford at the last minute, who replaces him, Taylor or McHugh? I think, unfortunately, Parkinson’s mind is made up. However, we have definitely learnt to trust his calls over the last few years, so I’m prepared to give Taylor this chance.

Tuesday’s result is a real shame for the defence, as they had all really impressed me at the start of the season. Obviously it was a different combination, but it is a shame for the reputation and maybe the confidence of the whole defensive group.

I think that Garry Thompson may miss out against Brentford. He really was poor at Stevenage, and didn’t put much into the victory against Sheffield United for me. And with Mark Yeates’ return along with Kyel Reid being the only real threat at Stevenage, as well as Raffa De Vita’s impact at Broadhall Way, maybe it means Thompson will miss out.

Apart from those, I don’t think any more changes can be expected from Saturday, bar a solid kick up the backside from Parkinson and a good ear bashing from Steve Parkin.

The Rotherham result was followed by a poor performance and 1-1 draw at Accrington last year – so don’t expect City to definitely bounce back in emphatic fashion. Plus I’m sure Brentford will pose a very different challenge to that of Accrington.

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4 replies

  1. Michael Nelson was signed two weeks after James Meredith fell ill. I don’t think having two back up centre halves is unreasonable, especially when one of them is a young man like Carl McHugh. I agree he deserved longer than a one year deal this summer but I think we’re better served by having experienced back up in the form of Matt Taylor as well as McHugh (who can also cover at left back, albeit not that convincingly on the evidence thus far).

  2. I always assumed it was McHugh’s choice to only sign a one year contract knowing that he probably wouldn’t be playing very much.
    I would play McHugh tomorrow.

    • I really don’t see how you compare Oli Mcburnie 3 year deal to Mchughs 12 month contract? Oli is a very good prospect while mchugh is one in a different position and nearer to the 1st team. I don’t see many changes to our team thats done well so far in lge1 ? Just Taylor in for Mcardle. As we were imo.

    • I’m truly puzzled by the McHugh situation. The very clear consensus amongst my City family and friends is he is absolutely not a full back. he “did a job” there a number of times last season of course but in ultra-defensive set-up’s, and tactics. One of the major reasons for City’s resurgent form towards end of last season and early in this campaign has been the greater mobility and attacking threat from both full back’s. McHugh doesn’t look comfortable going forward as Meredith or Dickson does/did. McHugh is however IMHO an outstanding prospect as a centre-back and i’d paly him over Taylor today without question.

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