2013/14 reviewed: the story of a season (part two)

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By Katie Whyatt

Continuing from part one, Width of a Post writers Andrew Baxter, Gareth Walker, Katie Whyatt, Mahesh Johal, Mark Danylczuk and Nick Beanland play the role of pundit to review Bradford City’s 2013/14 season.

What’s your view on the #ParkyOut calls?

Gareth: I think that they were born out of frustration more than anything else. I could never really take them seriously. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’ve never been Parkinson’s biggest fan but, despite enduring our worst run in many years, I could see that he was still the best man for the job by a long stretch.

When I considered the pros and cons, there was just no realistic argument for getting rid of our manager. Even if the “Parky Out” argument had been a sensible one, there wasn’t a debate to be had because of the length of contracts he and his staff are tied to. The costs of ripping those up would be simply unaffordable.

Nick: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. His record with signings in 2013/2014 is poor and his tactics got found out to some degree during the season, but the man has so much hard won credit in the bank, I cannot believe any intelligent being would want him to go. He’s a bright, hard working man and I believe he will make the necessary changes this summer.

Mark: I think it is unjustified. If we had got relegated this season, perhaps it would have been interesting to see what would have happened. He and the players are adjusting and he needs another crack at it next season. Again, a mid-table finish needs to be considered a success of sorts.

Andrew: Personally, I think they were unnecessary. The idea, when Parkinson signed his contract in the summer, was to be in the Championship in three years’ time. This year, therefore, was one of stability, and next year we should be looking to push for a play-off spot. I never expected City to dominate the league, and automatic promotion was not really a realistic target, with the quality this season in this division, so I disagree completely with the calls to sack Parkinson. Look where it got us when we sacked Colin Todd!

Katie: Like Andrew said, Parkinson signed a three-year contract to get City into the Championship. That contract is a three-year blueprint for sustainable, attainable development that flexes the club’s muscles within a framework that doesn’t stretch them beyond their means. That three-year journey won’t be without barren patches, winless runs, ineffective signings and direct tactics, but it’s a journey that will yield the best for Bradford City in the long-term.

For sure, he’s not beyond the realms of criticism and he has got it wrong tactically sometimes this season, but he needs and deserves time to push his strategy through properly. The future of this football club is in the best hands.

Which clubs and players have impressed you most this season?

Mark: I can’t remember many a match where City lost by a heavy scoreline – it has been a competitive division. The top sides such as Wolves and Brentford did stand out more than others. For City, Darby has been the main man for me – so consistent and a top defender. Hanson, as mentioned, Jones for his commitment and leadership, and Reid for his attacking qualities and excitement factor.

Katie: The loanees and ex-Premiership or Championship players that have added that final bit of balance to sides. Players like Luke Freeman, Alex Pritchard, and Harry Vudick have often been the only marked difference between games this season, and, when the margins are fine, you need that last bit of quality. Adam Reach is a case in point and superb for us – we’d arguably like a more permanent fixture and you can debate whether or not it works over a 46-game season, but those flair players have been brilliant to watch.

Mahesh: Rotherham. They have taken to this league very well and are building a really competitive team who could easily go up this season. Player wise, (whilst a loanee from Spurs) I thought Alex Pritchard for Swindon was top drawer and the best player I have seen this season.

What do you ultimately make of the summer signings and their lack of impact?

Gareth: Let’s be honest and not beat about the bush: they were poor, weren’t they? The excuses that some people are making for them don’t really wash with me.

I know that we won’t have done, but it looked at times like we signed Kennedy based on one game. He looks so poor, which is difficult to understand given the high esteem that he is held in at Rochdale – but he only made their bench when back there on loan. Matt Taylor didn’t ever look like displacing McArdle in the side, even when he was fully fit. Two appearances in cup defeats and 15 minutes in the league clearly didn’t inspire anyone with confidence.

I’d personally be happy to see them all go this summer if we can find takers for those who are under contract.

Nick: They all looked sage acquisitions when the season kicked off. Kennedy could yet be useful (though I doubt it). Taylor could yet be a stand in if or when Andrew Davies gets injured (though I doubt it). Yeates could yet show his undoubted talent in a sustained fashion (though I doubt it, unless the team set up is altered to his benefit, something I also doubt).

Their lack of impact is an expensive disappointment but I maintain they looked like logical purchases.

Mark: It has been a shame we have had to delve into the loan system and disrupt the togetherness of the squad, which I think has affected our form. Last season, it was a tighter unit, which helped. We had this a few seasons ago where we used over 30 players or so in a season! Saying that, the loan wingers, Reach and Bennett, have made an impact and scored some crucial goals, and Drury has provided good cover at the back.

Mahesh: I still agree with Parkinson’s decision to bring in a small number of players in summer. The ‘History Makers’ deserved the opportunity to play in League One but the strength in depth was unfortunately not the same as it was the previous season.

What kind of transfer activity do you want or expect to see in the summer?

Gareth: I think there will be quite a few comings and goings, but much might depend on whether we can move a couple of players on who are still under contract. For example, I think we need an upgrade on McArdle if we are to push on in this league. However, Rory is a big favourite of Parkinson’s, and I’d rather have him as a back up centre half than Taylor, but Taylor is under contract. We also need an upgrade on Jon McLaughlin in my opinion. For all the great saves he makes, he also makes too many mistakes, and I think that his poor communication and poor distribution have cost us just as many goals as his shot stopping saves us.

I hope that we keep Doyle in the middle. If we are going to play 4-5-1 away from home next year, then there is nobody better at our level to play the anchor role, and I think that we will regret it big time if we let him go.

Nick: I expect to see Parkinson bring in some younger, quicker players, quite possibly via the loan market. I’d also like to see a midfielder who consistently runs past our forwards to create chances. Our goal output from midfield is miserable and the lack of forward movement from that area makes life tough for our strikers, who often seem completely isolated.

And finally, how do you see City faring next season? 

Gareth: A lot will depend on the style of football we play, and whether Parkinson can be more successful in the transfer market than he was last summer. Without Nahki’s pace to run in behind, we have seen that the long ball has become futile, and if we hadn’t have had our good start this season when we had the Bermudan in the side, then we would have been relegated.

Without seeing who we sign and how we intend to play, it is impossible to make a prediction. That is how important this summer is: things could go either way

Nick: Very difficult to say at this stage – with only the current contracted players, we’d be in a relegation scrap. With clever recruitment, I think a season in and around the play off places is realistic. A big summer looms for Parkinson…

Mahesh: We proved that we can compete in this league but consistency was a hindrance. If we can strengthen the squad adequately enough and put results together, there’s no reason to say we can’t push for the play offs.

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Categories: 2013/14 season review

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1 reply

  1. Great blog, I’ve enjoyed reading it throughout the season. It will be interesting to see who comes in and who leaves over the next few weeks. We need to raise the quality throughout the team. It would be great to see Adam Reach again in a City shirt, hope Middlesbrough don’t think he’s good enough for them? When he went on a run it generated great excitement, anticipation around Valley Parade.

    I would also like to see improvements to the pitch. The surface could be more even and the pitch is also quite narrow at 70 yards. This can perhaps make it easier for visiting teams to defend and harder for City to make the most of home advantage.When I watched City at Preston, a really enjoyable game, 2-2, I thought there was more room to play the ball down the wings for the wide players to attack. Their pitch is 77 yards wide. At Valley Parade this space is more limited and it seems play is often disrupted and attacks broken up when the ball overruns. Perhaps it would be possible to widen the pitch by removing the remaining front row seats in the end blocks of the Midland Road stand and either lose these, or relocate them within the stand on the end of existing rows. There is enough capacity in the stadium to allow this. This would possibly enable the pitch to be widened by approximately 2 yards . Something similar could be done on the other side of the pitch,in the main stand, however, this would mean the loss of more seats and the repositioning of the dug outs. This would however,make it possible to have a pitch of about 74-75 yards in width, or perhaps wider, with front row seats with an elevated view of the pitch.
    This would perhaps enhance the experience of watching a game at Valley Parade, give more space for the team to play and ultimately help the club move forward.

    Crewe’s pitch is the narrowest at 66 yards and Manchester City’s the widest at 78 yards.

    It would be interesting to hear the views of other fans on this subject.

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