Losing one diamond at least, as Bradford City go to Barnsley

Picture by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

Picture by Thomas Gadd (thomasgadd.co.uk)

Barnsley vs Bradford City preview

@Oakwell on Sunday 12 October, 2014

By Mahesh Johal

After the relief of beating Crewe, Phil Parkinson’s men travel to Oakwell to face Barnsley. The first of two consecutive televised games, this Sunday’s trip to South Yorkshire, is the beginning of the end of another chapter in the club’s history.

In a week full of explosive sporting headlines, the news of David Baldwin’s imminent departure from the club received little – if any – coverage in the national press. However, closer to home, Baldwin’s move to Burnley is only starting to be digested. A man who is synonymous with the clubs recent revival, it begs the question (at the moment anyway) of how the club will function without him?

Sport and football in particular is an ever evolving business. As this week’s headlines demonstrated, the world of professional sport is also very unpredictable. Thankfully, City have been extremely fortunate to have the constant, and wise head of Baldwin to help sail our ship for the last seven years.

How the dynamics of the boardroom will change is an unknown, however reading Jason’s fantastic Q&As with Baldwin you get the impression that he has been integral to recent successes.

Olé, Olé, is not just a Ryder Cup chant…

Involved with transfer signings, Baldwin helped bring Mark Yeates to the club. The former Championship player, who was a Kevin Phillips penalty kick away from the Premiership; Yeates was seen as a major coup for the club. However dogged by inconsistency, injuries and maybe the expectancy of the Valley Parade faithful, Yeates had a nightmare first season at the club.

If a moment summed up his season, it was his non-attempt tackle at Sheffield United which brought a collective groan from those in the Jessica Ennis Stand.

Yo-yoing in and out of the side at the start of the season, Yeates seems to be showing some the form we had all hoped and expected. In the last two home games (and I hear the MK Dons League match as well) Yeates has at times looked our only threat to unlock defences. His swagger and confidence is becoming more evident on the pitch as it is off it.

For example, his interviews in the local press suggest that he is someone confident in his own ability. It also sounds like he is someone eager to impress those who may have doubted him. Compared to that damp January day in Sheffield, the Mark Yeates that I’ve seen in the last few games looks committed to the cause.

In a side that has recently lacked real cutting edge, Yeates could prove to be the spark to reset the City charge. As demonstrated by last week’s cross for Aaron Mclean, Yeates holds that bit of class that City are yearning at present.

Aaron Mclean, Goal Machine?

Like Yeates, Aaron Mclean’s performances have improved in the last couple of homes games. Against Port Vale, I felt Mclean was unlucky to be substituted after an ever-industrious display, whilst his goal last week changed the flow of the game.

Some readers felt that comments about Mclean in last week’s “The Verdict” were harsh. On reflection, I still think the points made by the panel are fair. Mclean is a hard-working striker who will make defenders life uncomfortable with his robust approach. Nevertheless, the club still need his goal record to improve. That’s not intended as a criticism, merely the point of view that we need our star striker to score more goals for us.

Whilst fingers maybe pointed at the man, responsibility also lays with his team mates. It’s hard to think of many examples where Mclean has found himself in the opponent’s area with serious goal scoring opportunities. He can do a job mixing it with defenders, but he is most valuable in the penalty area.

Looking through his goals at City, Mclean appears to be most deadly when he is roaming the box. With this in mind, he needs a bit more help from his midfielders to help create those chances in a similar way that Yeates did last weekend.

Diamonds aren’t forever…

With James Hanson looking unlikely to feature, Billy Clarke should keep his place upfront alongside Mclean. One would expect Parkinson to keep the same back five from last week, with new club captain Andrew Davies continuing his recovery from injury. In midfield, Parkinson has the option to tinker with both his midfield formation and personnel, with Billy Knott pushing for a recall after his performance last week.

Will Parkinson keep or get rid of the diamond on the pitch is an unknown? However, one thing is for sure, the club have lost one off it…

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