Forget it

Bradford City 1

Thomas 16

Colchester United 2

Ambrose 23+ 57

Tuesday 1 March, 2016

By Jason McKeown

Forget talk of the play offs. Forget hoping to make it to the Championship. Forget all the recent pats on the backs.

Forget it all, because Bradford City still remain a few steps behind where we expect them to be. Better than many of their League One peers, but a top six side? There’s not nearly enough evidence to support this; and until we really see it, let’s forget believing it is there.

This was a disgraceful performance. So far below what is acceptable that nearly every player should hang their head in shame. It doesn’t matter that Colchester were bottom of the league and complacency set it. That type of gutless Bradford City performance should never happen against anyone. It was truly appalling.

This continues to be an up and down season, but what undermines the mood is that City can’t seem to get ahead in the promotion race. They started the season awfully, then recovered. They stuttered again, and then recovered. They struggled through January, and have recently recovered. But they’ve yet to do more than recover past failings. They’ve never done anything better than perform to their capability on some occasions.

And that is not a sentence to describe a top six side.

Sometimes games of football can become too easy. Sometimes players can get carried away by their dominance. They start taking short cuts. Stop working as hard. They allow their energy and intensity to drop. And soon, they’re in trouble.

Because a team that has a first 20 minutes as bad as Colchester did here can only get better. And if you let them do just that, it’s hard to rediscover your discarded focus.

And that happened here to Bradford City. 20 minutes in, and the only outcome was going to be a cricket score. City, attacking the Kop end, were a goal to the good and looked threatening with every attack. They could – and should – have scored a hatful. Colchester’s high defensive line was seized upon, with Kyel Reid in particular forcing numerous errors.

The only goal was a good one – and it was a product of City’s promising January window activity. Josh Cullen robbed his man of possession, charged towards the penalty area with no defender near to stop him, and eventually crossed low for Wes Thomas to tap home for a first goal for the club. The two were amongst City’s brightest performers, and the fact neither wouldn’t finish the game became a major talking point.

Either side of the goal, good chances came and went. James Hanson was guilty of blazing over a cross, when through on goal in a wide position and with team mates running into the box. After Thomas forced a good save, Hanson could only head the rebound straight at the keeper. City’s leading scorer was unlucky to see a more powerful drive at goal roll just wide. Reid was the architect of that chance, he had U’s right back Kane Vincent-Young on toast, to the point he had to be subbed by his manager before half time.

But playing really well in fits and starts is the story of City’s season. They inexplicably dropped off here, and were punished by a Colchester equaliser that was messy and avoidable. Darren Ambrose the scorer.

And with the goal, the pace went out of the game. Colchester abandoned the high line and sat deep, whilst City looked reluctant to commit players forward and attack. The fearless and high tempo approach, which was so effective early doors, was forgotten. It became timid, slow and utterly frustrating.

The 65 visiting Colchester fans – and massive respect to them for travelling so far on a Tuesday night when their team is in such woeful form – were buoyed by their players’ efforts, and at times their chanting could be heard over the thousands of home supporters. A draw was no good for them in their circumstances, so they went for it early doors in the second half and were rewarded for it.

George Moncur was excellent and hit the woodwork twice in three minutes. And then Ambrose was one of a number of visiting players queuing up at the back post to smash the ball past Williams for his second goal. City’s marking was non-existent. This was a bad night for Stephen Darby, James Meredith and Nathan Clarke.

What do you do if you’re Phil Parkinson? When your entire team stops following the gameplan and collectively plays so poorly? The City manager will inevitably face post match criticism, and elements of it will be justified, but his players let him down big time here. They let the fans down, and they have let the club down.

Tony McMahon has had plenty of plaudits of late, but was dire. Moving him to the centre of midfield for the final half hour helped no one, least of all his team mates. How many times is Parkinson going to try him in the centre? It never works.

Equally damaging to City’s feeble fightback attempt was bringing on Billy Clarke for Thomas – a decision prompted by an injury to the latter, not that the crowd, who booed the change, knew this at the time. Billy Clarke and James Hanson have never formed an effective partnership in a 4-4-2. Billy Clarke has never thrived in a City 4-4-2. This is a major problem. He is not the answer right now.

Cullen and Thomas were City’s two best outfield players, and losing them had a major effect (Lee Evans was not the same player without Cullen alongside him). The home side lost their way and lost the plot. They rarely looked like coming back for a point.

Having the crowd on their backs caused players to go into their shells. But that is not good enough. It is not easy to play for Bradford City, but it does not justify going into hiding when the going gets tough.

Which sums up where we are at, and where we are failing. With a fair wind behind City can go again and recover quickly, but these slips ups keep happening and they are hugely damaging. When things start to go wrong, this team lack the capacity, know-how and bravery to turn it around. They fold. They have to be better than this. And the frustration lies in the fact that they should be.

Unless something radically changes, this is going to go down as a season of underachievement and disappointment. In a wide open division, City keep tripping over their own shoelaces rather than mounting a credible promotion push. There are some mitigating factors, but not enough to excuse nights as wretched as this one.

A big, big response on Saturday is the least that should be expected. But even if that does happens, forget getting excited again. This team now have a hell of a lot to do to win back our faith.

City: Williams, Darby, McArdle, N Clarke (Proctor), Meredith, McMahon, Cullen (B Clarke 60), Evans, Reid, Thomas (Marshall 60), Hanson

Not used: Cracknell, Knott, Leigh, Routis

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Categories: Match Reviews

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49 replies

  1. Totally agree 100 per cent
    We should have been 3 nil up before they scored and when Hanson missed I thought then we would come to regret it
    How can he score 2 at Peterborough and then miss 2 relatively easy chances against a bottom of the table side.
    He sums up the inconsistency that is City
    At half time when you can see that Coventry are losing and Millwall are drawing what more incentive do you need to go on and win and climb into that play off place…are they mentally weak?
    They will probably play a blinder on Saturday and win at Bury but what is the point when you struggle at home to sides like Rochdale and Colchester

  2. I sit next to a Charlton fan at work (the only other side to lose to Colchester this year) and said today I feared we would lose – typical City, we get all excited on the back of a few good results then it all goes badly wrong. But I did see Yeovil away last year (before Chelsea), and Exeter away in our successful league 2 campaign (24 March and we still recovered). Going further back I remember the doom and gloom at Oxford and Walsall in March and April ’96, and that season ended well. Yes there are also plenty of examples of seasons fizzling out but don’t give up hope on the back of one poor result. I saw Colchester thrash Wealdstone in the cup, no side is completely incapable of winning the odd game and their run was bound to end sometime. Move onto the next game.

  3. I know why Parky wants McMahon on the pitch. His stats this year prove it is no coincidence and we threatened again from set pieces today in the first half. But he is not even an adequate central midfielder I think when 2-1 down perhaps put him to right back and take Darby off. No criticism of Darby but sometimes circumstances require.

    Other than that no criticism of PP today he’s not an idiot he took our two best players off not because he thought it would help us in the last half hour but for how many points they may win us in the last 13 games when they’d be no good injured.

    He sent them out with a game plan which worked but the players went 1-0 up and thought they’d done the job. It’s very hard to get going again after that.

  4. You have managed and much more thoughtful and considered response to that performance than I was able to muster last night.

  5. Also, respect to 64 visiting fans. One of them lives in Otley.

  6. Totally agree Jason. probably the worst performance I have witnessed in 40+ years of following City. One comment I heard when leaving the stadium was ‘they (the players)don’t want to get promoted’. this could well be true as most of them are not good enough for the Championship and would have to be replaced anyway.

  7. Much of our dominance in the first 20 minutes came because of the inability of the Colchester right back to retain possession and this gave us a false sense of superiority. So credit to their manager for the early substitution way before half time. The game changed from that point. Suddenly it was much harder to maintain our attacks, we lost our way and paid the price.

  8. I work with Blades fans, L””%s fans and Wednesday fans. They were all saying yesterday we would be in the top six this morning. I hate to be pessimistic but I told them we would get beat, I’ve just seen it so many times in the past.
    I am firmly in the Parky camp but oh, how I wish he hadn’t got rid of Gary Liddle. Evans is too casual for me and gives the ball away far too easily, Liddle would have been a better option last night.
    For me only Thomas comes out of last night with any credit, the rest can hang their heads in shame this morning.

  9. Thanks for being honest Jason, the first time in a while in my opinion in a match summary. A couple of years ago I said James Hanson (sorry Big Jim) was a donkey. Now you must admit we’ll go nowhere with him leading the line. I gave up counting the number of times I saw him in our own half chasing opposition players down. What’s that all about? In my day, John McCole, David Layne or Bobby Campbell would never have crossed the half-way line! Onwards and upwards and let’s concentrate on a usual Parky mid-table finish as in all the previous League One campaigns!!

    • People have been saying James Hanson is a donkey for years and we would get nowhere with him. And since then we have reached Wembley twice, got promoted and climbed over 30 places up the football ladder. And James Hanson has been absolutely pivotal in all of this.

      So no, I couldn’t disagree any more with you that we will go nowhere with James Hanson in the team. On a night where every single player (bar one or two) was below par, shame on you for trying to score cheap points against Hanson.

      • Sorry Chris Pollard I have to disagree with some of your points . . . There were at least 8 other donkey’s on the pitch last night so unfair to single any one player out. Additionally the suggestion or implication of PP leading us to (?? Again) mid table mediocrity is nonsensical we have improved year on year under his management.

        Have we improved enough for Championship football? A separate question requiring response from board as well as manager.

        As shouted many a time from the touchline. . . Heads up lads and kick on!

      • Fair point but Hanson, arguably, was one of the worst of those below par last night. He has not had a good season and seems neither droppable nor one to be substituted.

      • He was dropped earlier in the season for his performances – so clearly he is not undroppable. After the P’Boro game PP also stated he has been very close to leaving Hanson out. Hanson has played well of late so I don’t think anyone could question his selection last night. The Bury game on Saturday might be a different story.

        I totally agree James Hanson was below par last night, and you are right he is not having a good season by his standards, but there is a difference between a player performing badly and being a bad player, and I don’t agree that Hanson is suddenly a bad player anymore than Billy Clarke (a striker in even worse form) is.

      • James Hanson did what he’s best at last night….miss chances. Centre Forward is an old fashioned term but I’d describe James as one, rather than “striker”, quite simply because “striker” suggests a goal scorer and he has never scored enough goals. He has a little run of scoring and then goes for a much longer spell of not hitting the target. His place never seems to be under threat. We’ve signed loan players to cover for times when he’s injured but, regardless of how ell they perform, they’re cast aside as soon as he’s fit.

      • None of the respondents to my pieces on WOAP viz Big Jim know much if anything about what makes a football team that is successful. I mean in the league competitions we’ve entered this past 3 years, we lost twice to the bottom club Yeovil Town last season and lo and behold twice to the present bottom team in League 1. That’s where you all should start looking for answers to your prayers.!

      • Yeah everyone’s an idiot but you’re the expert…

        You are right that we lost to the bottom team in the last two seasons, and Colchester last night, but we play 46 games in a season: not two. In 2013/14 we lost twice to Stevenage but finished 11th. In 2014/15 we lost twice to Yeovil but came 7th. This season we lost twice to Colchester and are one point off the play offs.

        I’m sure that Stevenage, Yeovil and Colchester would swap the six points they took from us to be in our position right now.

      • My answer for everyone is that we’re still in the 3rd Division. We were one place off the play-offs last season, but 6 or so points off in reality. What I’d like to see in a City team, is football as played on Tuesday evening by Colchester and George Moncur specifically. Our alternative to him is Billy Knott!

      • There can’t be too many supporters of a League One club who are envious of Colchester!

      • I was envious of Colchester’s play and their beleagured manager must have felt proud of his players’ effort.

      • Colchester were excellent on the night, no question. They deserved the win and all credit to them.

        But if their style of football is so wonderful – and if George Moncur is such a brilliant player – why are they bottom of the league? Why hadn’t they won for 19 games? Why are you jealous of as team that is doing so badly? If City played more passing football and were bottom of the league would you be happy?

        Yes things can be a lot better at City, but I can think of a lot of other teams i’d rather we copy than Colchester.

    • Very harsh.

      I heard Bobby Campbell being called a donkey in his time at City. Dean Windass used to say he was never better than when he wasn’t in the team.

      The point being that James may not be your cup of tea, but calling him a donkey does not really add to the debate nor help the side. You can certainly point to his lack of mobility, his profligacy in front of goal, the tactics used when he’s in the side as reasons why he should be dropped but calling him a donkey is, well, just not very nice!

      • Trying to single out one player, for the dismal defeat to Colchester is a simplistic response. In reality it was a poor performance from all members of the team. In my view none of the performances merited more than a five rating, based on their play.
        In my view, this match summary, is a neat review of a very poor City performance.
        The current team is too unpredictable and inconsistent to be promotion candidates. I only hope that we finish with a higher number of points than last year, but feel we will not make the ‘play offs’.

  10. James Hanson is the donkey I’ve always said he is. Last night should be his last appearance in a City shirt for a while if Parky reads the script from Page 1, then we can try and resurrect the season from the depths of last evening.

    • I wouldn’t dream of calling one of your children a “donkey”,so please refrain from insulting my child good sir!
      Cheers.

  11. I missed the game last night and this result is par of the course with Parkinsons sides. A very scathing report Jason and sounds like a very frustrating night for fans to sit through yet again. As I see it our home and away form are a mirror image in terms of the points haul for this season. Form goes from indifferent to poor and from good to bad from one week to the next. Personally I’ve seen 2 good home performances Coventry & Wigan and 2 good away performances Oldham & Scunthorpe this season.

    The other results gained have been ground out such as Blackpool on Saturday which can be the sign of a good team but this is not the case with this current squad. I was bored to tears watching the Blackpool game so when does entertaining the fans come into it? It doesn’t with Parkinson the end justify the means and the manager makes no bones about this philosophy.

    Parkinson brought a Colchester team to valley parade in 2007 and ground out a win at all costs that day. Parkinson’s style and team was heavily criticised and Parkinson’s philosophy was described as anti football by our manager of the time. Other managers in recent years hold a similar view of Parkinson’s footballing philosophy.

    The squad assembled this season has just not been good enough in terms of having attacking and dynamic midfielders to drive us forward and open up teams. Functional & conservative has been Parkinsons mantra for the season and he is happy with this approach and philosophy. This conservative approach has left James Hanson a totally isolated figure at times fighting for long balls in the air running the channels and tussling with centre halves with little protection from the officials. If Hanson had a good strike partner, played in and around the box with better support from the midfielders then his goal ratio would improve. I feel James’s game such as movement & taking up the better positions in and around the oppositions box whilst been supported by attack minded team mates would improve Hanson as a goal scorer. As such Hanson’s progression has a goal scorer had been sacrificed to fit in with Parkinson’s functionaland cautious approach.

    Under a more attack minded Manager Hanson would be a more confident player in front of goal and he would be that 15 to 20 goal scorer season in season out. However, to compensate this fact Hanson has become a team player chasing lost causes instead knocking the ball in net on more regular basis.

    Overall this season was strangled at birth with a shocking start to the campaign, injuries, poor signings and an expectancy of an entertaining season after last seasons cup exploits.

    The big valley parade crowd should be used to our advantage in terms of attacking teams and pushing teams back. This rarely happens and has the opposite effect more often than not. Just 3 more wins at home this season would see us comfortably in a play off place this season. Not too bigger ask is it? Certainly seems that way to me.

  12. Excellent article Jason. Totally agree. ‘Disgraceful’ captures it well. As others have said we have served up some rubbish at VP over the years but last night’s offering must be a candidate for top honours.

    Much has already been said in the blogs above but I need to add my ‘three penny worth’ to try and help erase the memory of last night. It keeps coming back into my head as I try and concentrate on other things.. Wondered about going to the GP to ask for counselling.

    “In Parky we trust” has been my guiding philosophy for some time but I detect a chink in my otherwise unwavering support. The decision to remove Thomas combined with a decision to put McMahon alongside Evans (can he possibly get more lethargic and uncommitted ?) in midfield beggars belief. Did Parky learn nothing from the Bury replay ? Two headless chickens would have performed better. Correction: that’s what we did have.

    I have heard several comments elsewhere (Pulse mainly) ‘looking forward to the remaining home games – where we can consolidate on our strong home performances this season to push for the play offs’. What planet are they living on ? There have been one or two well earned victories but often as not we have struggled to be dominant…and score goals – as surely a play off contender must be …and do.

    So, yes, let’s forget the play offs. As part of my therapy I’ve looked up Yorkshire fixtures for the coming cricket season and will now think about booking a summer holiday. Maybe I should bring it forward and extend it to cover remaining games this season.

    Rick Holden

    • The entertainment value this season has been nil. Absolute boring.

      Yes, many points have been picked up, but the quality of football has been dire. Struggle to think of one game where we actually played decent football and I came away thinking, “well that was exciting”.

      I feel sorry for big Jim as he is a victim of PP’s hoofball style always chasing a lost cause on his own (usually) closing down or coming back to defend corners, and often double marked.

      You saw the proper James was when he worked in tandom with Nahki,

      As much as I do not like Steven Presley, I’m afraid the truth often hurts – dinosaur football, (or whatever he called it).

      Evans just a poser to me- he wants to hit 40 yard “worldly” balls and contributes very little else. Has anybody else notice how he just struts about like a bambi doing little?

      We would get murdered in the league above.

      I have seen so many games we have lost when favourites over the last 52 years, you just knew last night was going to be another one of those nights.

      At least we have something we are very good at – and that is breaking losing runs of opponents.

  13. Very negative review, this is League 1 and inconsistency is why we’re all here. 10 points from the last 5 games, 1 point off the play-offs and still in the hunt despite everything.

  14. It’s either lazy or plain vindictive to single-out Hanson in last night’s performance – we were really rubbish all over the pitch. Hanson was constantly dropping back into midfield – perhaps he’d been instructed to – to try collect the ball because otherwise there was no link between front and middle, other than Reid’s runs down the left wing, which themselves dried up after their error-prone right back was replaced. Whatever the quality of Hanson’s play last night, and I would argue that much of the problem remains due to a lack of link-up between him and his partner, and so is only partly his fault, he never stopped running and chasing, and for that he deserves credit. Many of his critics also ignore the huge contribution he makes defensively, at corners in particular, when I’m sure his absence would lead to loads more goals being conceded.

  15. Like so many others,I thought last night’s performance lacking in direction and dynamism. But it’s somewhat excessive to write off our play-chances. People talk of us being too inconsistent yet we are in touch with the fifth and sixth-placed teams. By definition,then, they and others around City’s position must also be inconsistent yet no-one seems to write them off. Our players were awful last night and too often this season have been profligate in front of goal but that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed as”donkeys”. Nor should the manager be reviled and dismissed as clueless, one-dimensional and subjected to such invective. Too many fans spending too much time as Championship Managers. Be disappointed but not dismissive. We’ve come long way from the brink of extinction four years ago.

    • It was not a good night for Big Jim but he seemed to be playing in midfield for much of second half. Why on earth are we playing virtually 4-5-1 at home to the bottom team who had not won in 19 games?

    • Hurrah! Absolute agreement with you Ken; the mood swings from one extreme to the other are understandable (this week, perfectly captured by back-to-back WOAP articles entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful” and “Forget it”), but this should not convince us that City are an extreme case in this league.

      Personally, I agree that we’ve never really got going this year, and we are consistently inconsistent, but – in this case, as every other – the table does not lie. For whatever reason, we are still on the edge of the playoffs with enough games to have a push.

      The likelihood of that happening is valid debate, of course, but we are where we are (in a decent position despite uninspiring form) so ‘disappointed but not dismissive’ is my reading of things too.

  16. A wise man once said (I think I read it on WOAP!) that “you are never as good as you think you are when you win, and never as bad as you think you are when you lose”.

  17. move on, next game. Up the bantams

  18. All this talk of donkeys led me to look up what the collective noun is. Its Pace or Drove apparently. Not sure what that adds to the debate but I though I might share that with you by way of light relief.

  19. donkey
    /ˈdɒŋkɪ/
    noun
    1.
    Also called ass. a long-eared domesticated member of the horse family ( Equidae), descended from the African wild ass ( Equus asinus)
    2.
    a stupid or stubborn person
    3.
    (Brit, slang, derogatory) a footballer known for his or her lack of skill: the players are a bunch of overpriced and overrated donkeys
    4.
    talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey, to talk endlessly (see Chris Pollard)

  20. The team needs a more passionate leader – I like SD, but he doesn’t have the presence that people like Gary Jones brought to the pitch. Excellent article – hit the nail right on the head. I still think Parky’s a god. We could still hit the play offs, but we need more consistency. In my heart of hearts, knowing this City team, you just knew they were going to turn up with the wrong attitude

  21. Just reading some of the vitriol on here,yes it was bad but we have seen it all before have we not ? give them a chance to put things right, as for calling mr Hanson a donkey maybe they should get down to apperley bridge and tell him to his face no? Thought not.

  22. Massive overation. Yes we were very very poor but we were also very good against peterborough and Southend. 1 point of the playoffs with a game in hand, admittedly against burton! but all is not yet lost.

  23. overreaction* before the spelling police tell me off

  24. I was not at the game so cannot comment on the performance but feel there is always a big overreaction after defeat but few comments after victory. City may have become complacent at one nil, Chelsea 2 City 0.

    I believe support means support i.e sticking with someone when they’re having a bad time. I never boo or hurl personal abuse at our players. I agree entirely with Andy B would they say it to the player face to face one to one ?

    I think Mr Hanson Snr has shown great restraint. I have been watching City for fifty years and twenty goal a season forwards have been few and far between. James would not be at City if he was more prolific. What he brings to the team is that he works his socks off and occupies two opposition defenders, one to push him into the back of a teammate standing in front to draw a foul. This allows more space for teammates to exploit which Nakhi Wells excelled in.

    Then there is the question of style of football. I agree it is not always the most pleasing on the eye but we only see other teams once in the main or maybe twice a season. I have seen plenty of teams passing it around for 70 odd yards then fizzling out in the final third.

    Current form Wigan 11/15 , City, Burton, Barnsley 10/15, Millwall 8/15, Southend, Coventry, Gillingham 4/15, Walsall 3/15.

    City are safe by the by the end of February. How many times has that happened ?

    Finally we are in a better position than 1995/96 and 2012/13 so no let’s not forget it.

    • As you weren’t at the Colchester game, you don’t know the level of despair there was around the stadium as City players/management failed to raise their game as a ‘promotion’ hopeful should have.

  25. Once we got the goal we believed the game was won, as we were against the bottom of the table side on a poor run, and just thought they would crumble. Once you drop off your levels during a game it’s very difficult to get back to them, as you can’t turn your level of performance on and off like a tap.

    Those that have supported the club for any length of time won’t have been surprised that we lost to a side on a long winless run, as we have done this for as long as I can remember.

    Equally I wouldn’t be surprised to see us beat Burton next week with them being top of the table, because it’s what City do.

  26. Hi Jason.
    I don’t know if it’s seething anger that’s seeping through in your report or just just despair and despondency but I would say that your report is spot on.
    I took 2 hours out of work to listen to the match on the ‘net and have to say that after the first 20-25 mins it sounded awful.
    I don’t believe that the manager or the players are beyond criticism especially after such an inept performance but the vitriol against Hanson is unfair and uncalled for.
    I think most of us don’t mind if we lose to the bottom team(s) or any other team so long as all the players put a shift in and have the heart, desire and give it their all to win.
    I think most of us here are Parkie fans but he really does frustrate us when he constantly sets up the team to not lose rather than to go out to win.
    I would say be bold Phil, set us up to win and lets go for it from the off and not when we’re chasing the game – make the remaining matches count. Let’s play with two wingers and let’splay attacking football. Let the opposition worry about what we’re going to do and not vice-versa. Do this and we could be in for a barnstorming finish, don’t do this and the season will just fizzle out without any hope for next season.

  27. People are getting excited about the number and quality of returning players. What concerns me is; Parky trying to keep people happy and starting to tinker too much.

  28. I have to say I am saddened, as one of City’s longest-serving fans and lover of WOAP,at the vitriol and abuse shown by some contributors. WOAP, and BFB before it, have been noted for reasonable and constructive comment. Please do not allow ourselves to descend to levels seen elsewhere.

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