Putting a tough October to bed as City go to Crewe

Picture by Mark Danylczuk

Picture by Mark Danylczuk

Crewe Alexandra vs Bradford City preview

@Gresty Road on Saturday 2 November, 2013

By Ian Sheard

I wasn’t surprised to observe where Crewe are in the league, due to the fact they are not one of the big clubs in the division and, perhaps, not one of the most attractive teams on the fixture list. Having looked at their recent games, however, it is surprising to see how many of these ‘big teams’ they have actually played this season. If we compared them to City and matched up the fixtures it may give an indication as to why I predict a win for City on Saturday – and perhaps why this fixture may prove the catalyst to a resurgence in the Bantams’ early season impetus.

Out of the games Crewe have played this season; they have drawn with Oldham, Rotherham and Peterborough; beaten Preston, Tranmere and Bristol City (the latter two clubs lingering at the wrong end of the table); and been hammered by Swindon, Walsall, Notts County and Stevenage. Surely, then, this should be easy pickings for City? But of course, we know not everything is as easy it as it seems and there may be a few factors that could continue City’s miserable October into November.

Whilst I have always been a fan of Phil Parkinson and his overall management of the team, a small part of me – and I mean a very small part – disagrees with aspects of it. I think that his reaction to Ronnie Moore and Ian Goodison over the forearm incident was unprofessional, and perhaps influenced the ref a tad in his choice of card. It was a only a few seasons since the infamous Crawley match and the reaction was of both sets of players was quite rightly criticised openly by the club; this was not a great reaction to something not going our way.

Parkinson’s treatment of Alan Connell is also a worry for me. It must be so disheartening for a player, who has shown his potential, to find himself further and further down the pecking order – especially with the injury to Nahki Wells opening up opportunities for other strikers. The arrival of Caleb Folan must have been a bit of a kick in the teeth, but one could argue he is a back-up for Hanson. So why play Garry Thompson up front and not Connell?

Another slight niggle for me is the selection of players, in particular Kyel Reid. A friend always says to me that Reid reminds him a lot of Omar Daley in so far as his inconsistencies; and whilst I do not agree with him entirely, I see where he is coming from. Admittedly I rarely attend away games due to work and family commitments, but I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that there are two sides to Reid. There’s his home side, where shots fly over the bar, crosses are inconsistent or mis-timed, and free-kick and corners barely pass the first defender. This is in contrast to a fiery, quick, goal scoring winger who seems to have the rub of most right backs during games away from Valley Parade.

I would like to make it clear that I think Reid is a wonderful addition to the team, but on the other hand can be so infuriating to watch as a player. I think the best example of this was a collective drone from the Main Stand on Saturday after another failed cross from the wideman.

In Reid’s defence, I do think that it was a penalty when he went down in the second half. Gary Lineker once said that once you are one-on-one with the keeper and he has committed, the best thing to do is to knock the ball away and let him take your legs for a penalty. To me this is what happened on Saturday; but in view of his frustratingly annoying dive in the first half, you can see why he was booked! For me this sums Reid up and is a reason why I think he needs a bit of a kick up the backside.

Another thing that I think City can learn from Wolves is that we need to concentrate fully at the back. How much we miss Andrew Davies! I do wonder if Carl McHugh might be selected over Rory McArdle tomorrow, as I think was to blame for one of the Wolves goals and is not always as quick to react to the ball as he needs to be. Matthew Bates I would keep, as well as Stephen Darby, who I think is turning into the Wayne Jacobs – Mr Reliable but nothing too fancy man – of the team.

Jon McLaughlin has had a rough time recently but so has the best keeper in this country over the past few years, Joe Hart, and I think we should stay with him but need to find a decent understudy at least. James Meredith will no doubt start but I think he was beaten a little too often on Saturday due to the fact that he was pushing up with Reid… (I’ll leave it there.)

Central midfield will pick itself, but I wonder how long Gary Jones can keep this box to box role up as he demonstrated on Saturday? If he can brilliant, if not we need a signing in January as I doubt that Kennedy is up to it from what I’ve seen. Nathan Doyle was phenomenal for me on Saturday and should have been the man of the match. Up front Wells and Hanson will be most likely start, with Folan coming on for 10 minutes.

Ronnie Moore stated after the Tranmere game that we are still riding on the wave of Wembley and the success of last season. Whilst I would love to see him step into the ring with Mr Evans for pure hilarity and sadist pleasure, he may have a point but not in the way he meant it. Last season was the best season at City I have witnessed in my 20+ years of going, but I think we need to get back down to Earth and realise that the job now is to get out of this league. Sure, use last season as a reminder, but not as a mantra for every game.

This season, as some have naively predicted, is not going to be easy. So hopefully three points on Saturday will be the spark we need as we say goodbye to a difficult October.

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8 replies

  1. Well that was a cheery read…

    I accept there is always need for a dose of realism as a City supporter, and we will surely never all agree on every management decision or player perfomance, but the heartening thing about being a Bantam right now is the sense of a healthy dose of positivity to balance all of that out. And it’s been a very long time coming this past decade or so.

    Much of this positivity rides on a Wembley wave, but not amongst the players, rather amongst us supporters. Since we stood to a man, woman and child in the last twenty minutes against Swansea and sang our hearts out, we have also had a massive role to play in keeping the momentum going. The day to day decision-making will still divide us, and is part of the game, but I think we surrender our faith in Parky and the squad at our collective peril.

    We’ve been very, very good lately and – although results haven’t quite fallen our way – we are making an impact upon League One that I am immensely proud of.

    And I’m talking about us, the supporters.

    Take Me Home, Midland Road.

    • I didn’t mean it to be as dreary as perhaps it reads. I agree the fans have been immense this year and last. I was warning against complacency really.

  2. A manager works all week for those 90 minutes. I wouldn’t want a manager to sit passively when he perceives that one of his players, directly under his nose, has been elbowed. From what I see and read, Parky is the ultimate professional. On this occasion he reacted instinctively to a situation. He was protecting his team like all great managers do. I certainly wouldn’t want a manager who would have responded differently.

  3. And if Rory McArdle is dropped tomorrow I’ll pay for your tickets next time City go to Wembley…

    • It seems for many that both Macs – Jonny and Rory – are only permitted one mistake before there is a clamour for them to be dropped/ they aren’t good enough etc. I just don’t get this.

      I wasn’t under the impression that Jonny mac was having a rough time of late – I’m sure he will hold his hands up to the Wolves goal but the Preston save and others suggest otherwise!

      Frustrating or otherwise Reid would be one of the first names I would put on the teamsheet – as a league 1 player he was never going to scale the heights of the Preston match in the following Wolves fixture but he still remains a key threat and outlet – Wolves certainly thought so.

      • Not clamouring for Rory to be dropped and I stated that Jon should stay in goal. I’m just suggesting other options. I also softer that Reid is a brilliant addition but infuriating. But that is why he is not playing at a higher level perhaps? I was merely suggesting that whilst the going is good now, it may not always be and whilst this does sound pessimistic Im only hoping people don’t get carried away and know this is going to be a tough season.

  4. Can’t say I agree with much that is said here… bar your anger at Reid! Connell isn’t cut out for this division, Parkinson hasn’t been playing him because he knows he’s just not good enough. If you want to look at ill treatment, look at Carl McHugh. Why he hasn’t got a look in at centre back all year is beyond me. That being said, I think Bates and McArdle have been excellent of late, and it is vital- especially without Davies- that we get a back 4 and stick with it, so they can keep gelling and improving.

    You also label Crewe a smaller side a lot, and one we should beat. I’m sorry but the games we have lost and failed to win definitely show that there are no easy gmes in this league, and certainly none that you can take for granted like you have here. We are still learning to play at this level, a lot of teams have passed it much better than us and that has killed us in games such as Crawley. The players will learn and keep growing, but I wouldn’t be surprised (unfortunately) if we got beat tomorrow.

  5. Thank you to everyone for your feedback and thank you also to Ian for writing the preview. Clearly there are some passionate views on here which is good, but as it’s getting unfairly personal towards Ian (who agree with him or not is entitled to his view) I’m closing the comments on this piece.

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