Sheffield United vs Bradford City preview
@Bramall Lane on Saturday 16 January, 2014
By Phil Abbott
Every football club has potential. Every football player has potential. Every football fan has potential. We must now seize it collectively, as the degree of positivity or negativity in which these three facets are matched to each other (and ultimately played out) may be a sizeable indicator as to the imminent direction our team might expect to take.
Over the past year, there has been a lot to celebrate. We will always have our great memories. In equal measure, we will always feel some regret about how those memories have been archived in history, and more-so in recent days, stolen with such genuine pain. However, we need to move on, and quickly. In my mind, City as a club, the players and their fans, need to take a collective approach to navigate the coming months.
Now is the time that we need wise words and positive thoughts, not hysteria and negativity. I’m not the one to offer the latter, but quite possibly equipped to impart the former. I will try at least.
The need to turn in a rousing performance against Sheffield United is acute. This is not merely because they are historically perceived to be one of the bigger lower league clubs, or that they are a big draw for the crowds. Indeed, neither is it the case just because they are one of our fierce local rivals, but because at this point in time, we need to ensure that the wheels of the Bradford City Express which ploughed their way into the play-off scene in the early months of the season find the track once again.
To a man, everyone associated with the club has a will to turn around our recent poor form, but just wanting something to happen is in no way guaranteed to make it happen. To this end, there needs to be a plan; one that makes a difference, one where everyone plays their part. After an eventful seven days, now is as good a time as any to review our philosophy, whether player, director or fan.
At this stage, many teams might sit and lick their wounds, or lament the bitter loss of their ‘hero designate’. Others might succumb to the acceptance of mid-table mediocrity, as the comfort zone of an early season points haul shelters their season from the doom and gloom of a relegation scrap. This must not happen at Bradford City and we all have a role to play – continuing on Saturday.
I’d draw on the philosophy of one of Australia’s greatest, most widely respected and successful Rugby League coaches, Wayne Bennett, for some wise sound bites. I’ve done this before. It is his coaching mantra that always strikes a chord with me when I’m looking for inspiration to seize the moment. He simply says, ‘Don’t die with the music in you’
The Bristol City match aside, and following the exciting arrival of Aaron McLean, life after ‘he who should not be mentioned’ demands a slate wiped clean for the scribing of the next chapter of the turbulent, yet eventful life of Bradford City FC, which begins when we face a struggling Sheffield United team at Bramall Lane tomorrow.
Forget the injuries, the departures, the form guides, the disagreements, for when Saturday comes, we need to see the music, feel the music and hear the music. It needs to pour out of everyone who loves this club. It’s time for the players to stand up and be counted, pull their socks up, puff out their chests and play like they did over and over again last season. It’s time for the fans to stand united, unanimous in their unwavering support for our team.
If our last away day outing at Notts County is anything to go by, we need to improve dramatically to turn that depressing New Years Day ‘Pathetique’ into a glorious ‘Ode to Joy’.
Please – no more tight calf complaints, no more makeshift wingers, no more square pegs in round holes. We’ve spent too many Saturday evenings avoiding Goals Express and The Football League Show in recent weeks. Saturday’s fixture is a prime opportunity to settle the score. The South Yorkshire club are themselves low on morale, struggling to find any consistency, trudging in that listless depression and obscurity that us seasoned City fans became all too accustomed to in recent years. They are an injured beast, a point above the drop zone, and we must show no mercy.
Whilst our recent form and battered spirit has bottomed us out, the last couple of days might just have galvanised the City resolve enough to rediscover the positive vibes that so famously permeated the club only months ago. We have to believe. We have to meet our potential – all of us.
Our ‘best team’ is work in progress until the transfer window closes and will continue to be so until our injury list begins to subside, yet, ready or not, at kick-off time tomorrow, we can only hope that the club’s management have continued to cement the positive direction of our club by closing in on further permanent, resourceful signings. This club should not be prepared to accept playing second fiddle to anyone in this division.
We can only hope that the players can express their desire to sail this club into Championship waters, uncharted in a decade, with renewed vigour and energy, starting by giving a virtuosic performance on the Bramall Lane turf. We know the music is in them and if last year is anything to go by, it’s an unbelievably immense tune.
Finally readers, as fans, we need to realise our own potential. We can only hope that our terrific fans can sing their hearts out until their throats are sore, blunting the Blades faithful and rousing the passions of our own followers in a chorus that even the celestial choirs would struggle to emulate. Manager Parkinson – and many who have been there before – know the tangible value of this incredible vocal backing.
Whatever your role on Saturday, ‘don’t die with the music in you’, but let’s all sing from the same song-sheet and let’s do it long after the weekend too. I wonder if our next composition might be in glorious praise of Aaron Mclean, or young protégé Oli McBurnie?