By Matt Briggs
Phil Parkinson’s reluctance to use loan players is understandable – especially after last season’s promotion-winning season and run to the Capital One Cup final, but with a half of the season gone in League One I can only think we’re missing out.
The City gaffer has so far refused to enter the loan market whilst divisional rivals seem to be making the plunge willy nilly and after our fine start to the season we’re starting to fade and desperate for some fresh impetus.
Last season’s success was built on a core element which did the club proud and the loan arrivals were only brought in to supplement the squad due to the mammoth 64-game schedule. Had we not had the cup run I’m pretty sure Parkinson would have kept his powder dry in the loan market because under past regimes loan players have not served us too well – a fact that was highlighted by Parkinson soon after his arrival at the club. However, this term a jump in quality has left us short – and that has certainly been highlighted recently, with Rotherham’s Newcastle loanee Haris Vuckic – a one-time City target – sinking us on Boxing Day and Spurs loan star Alex Pritchard denying us three points after netting a fabulous equaliser for Swindon.
With talented players out of financial reach other teams have used the loan system to their advantage too, and while I’m not naive enough to think every loan move works out, there have been numerous loan additions this term that have made an impact in the third tier.
Chelsea loan star Patrick Bamford has made a massive statement at MK Dons, Nouha Dicko was scoring for fun for Rotherham before Wigan recalled him and James Tavernier has also been a useful addition for Parkinson’s nemesis – Millers boss Steve Evans. You can also look at Walsall’s classy forward Milan Lalkovic – on loan from Chelsea – and Brentford’s Marcello Trotta, who is on loan from Fulham and it’s plain to see that we’re being deprived of quality loan players. Even struggling Notts County, who rolled us over 3-0, have used the system well with Celtic starlet Callum MGregor and Aston Villa youngster Jack Grealish – both of whom scored against us on New Year’s Day – making significant impacts.
It’s a situation Parkinson could be set to resolve, with my understanding the boss is set to delve into the loan market to get City’s season back on track and end his toughest run as Bantams boss. Recent results have been poor and Parkinson has hinted that he needs to add some quality to his thin squad and with the exit of Caleb Folan and the expected departures of one or two other fringe players there should be some money to wheel and deal in the loan market.
It’s true that recent injuries to Andrew Davies, James Hanson and Nahki Wells have had a major impact and hindered the City boss, but Parkinson’s summer recruits have, so far, proved poor acquisitions with only Mark Yeates looking capable in short spells. And while Matthew Bates has looked reliable, the return of the inspirational Davies in February will be a huge shot in the arm and if Wells is persuaded to stay then despite all the current doom and gloom I’d suggest Parkinson is only three players short of transforming us into genuine promotion contenders.
With the transfer window now open it looks like being one of the busiest in recent history for the club with the Wells “will he or won’t he” saga ready to move into full swing. I think we can expect two or three new arrivals too with a goalkeeper almost certainly set to come in with Harrogate Town stopper Craig MacGillivray a target and hopefully an attack-minded midfielder we’ve been crying out for all season and a striker, regardless of whether Wells stays or moves on.