Bradford City vs Burton Albion preview
@Valley Parade on Tuesday 8 March, 2016
By Mahesh Johal
How quickly do things change in football? This time last week the club was on a high. Kyel Reid’s winner against Blackpool helped extend the sides unbeaten run to four games. Ten points from a possible twelve was play off form. Goals were being scored at a quicker rate than they had been all season. And an impending fixture against the league’s bottom club meant a near certain victory would put the Bantams into the play off positions.
Then disaster struck, and the self destruct button was hit. Defeat to a team who had struggled to win in their previous nineteen games was followed by a snore draw against Bury. Phil Parkinson rightfully highlighted the importance of away points, but the performance offered little in attacking prowess. In the space of week, instead of welcoming the league leaders on a wave of confidence, Jon McLaughlin and Burton Albion’s arrival comes with hosts facing yet another cross road this season.
A win could be the instigator for the play off push (how many times have we heard that this season?) Another Tuesday night horror show could well puncture the sides confidence to a point of no return. Either way, a good performance is imperative to stabilise the fluctuating mood of supporters. In a time when the club are asking a lot of fans, a performance on the pitch is needed to match the goodwill off it.
How good an idea is #FanFunding?
#FanFunding and #UpgradeTheParade has dominated the club’s marketing and PR channels recently. I can’t go a couple of seconds without seeing some offer or advertisement about it on social media. An impressive £50,000 has already been raised, however the campaign has divided fan opinion.
It’s quite simple, the club needs extra funds to progress. If it wants to become a sustainable Championship club, more money will be needed to keep up with rival clubs infrastructure both on and off the pitch. The Tifosy run campaign is unique and successful means of generating cash. Just look at its success with Pompey, or that fact that it has raised so much in a short space of time. Whilst the club’s PR tactics are still in question, it is beginning to market and sell itself better by using its biggest assets – the players.
However, is it the fans responsibility to raise the funds for the upgrades? It could be argued both ways. One feeling of discontent is due to the incessant plugging on social media. It appears a bit beggy and cringe at times. I understand the need to constantly advertise, but only a month into the campaign and some are already bored of listening and reading.
Also some fans are feeling pressured and guilty for not contributing. For example, some people can’t afford to give up £25 for a big screen. Why not increase the season ticket prices and give people the opportunity to budget for the extra cash? Fans will still get extremely well priced season tickets, and the club gets its screen.
A big qualm for me is where the money is going. I can see why Pompey beat their £250k target for a new footballing academy. But is £250k for a changing room revamp and a screen a realistic target for us? The changing room upgrade is necessary but is a big screen? The club’s commercial arm is successfully growing and may see the benefits of having it for advertising purposes. However, we have a poor online ticketing website. Would it not be better to upgrade that?
Speaking to a member of the ticketing staff, we can’t sell tickets online for the forthcoming Wigan game due to its inadequacies. After all the issues last season, I would much prefer to improve that than have a scoreboard with replay capability. I don’t know the boards future plans, they may be sorting that out. However, our ticketing facility and infrastructure is weak compared to others and it could be argued as more important than a screen.
Like many, I see the campaigns benefits. Equally I see why it is meeting opposition.
How will the side cope without Rory?
If City are to succeed tonight, a lot will depend on how the side cope with the loss of Rory McArdle. The ever present centre back has been the fulcrum on which the sides impressive defensive record has been built. Awaiting a scan on the dislocated shoulder, it is unknown how long he’ll be out for. One thing is for sure it is a massive, and rare loss to the team. Since joining the club in 2012, McArdle has made the most appearances of any City player.
Nathan Clarke would be the obvious replacement, although Chris Routis may be reintroduced into the side. One of the pair will line up alongside with Burke, Stephen Darby, James Meredith. If City are to end up in the top six, the defence will have to deal with the loss of its defencive stalwart. Ben Williams, who picked up another clean sheet on Saturday, will continue in goal, whilst opposite number Jon McLaughlin will return to his old hunting ground with a warm welcome in store.
One would expect the midfield foursome that played against Bury to continue. Josh Cullen again impressed and he appears to be getting more out of Lee Evans. Tony McMahon has been successful in his role in the midfield, however I’d argue that more is needed from the trio as Kyel Reid continues to be the only threat and outlet in the team. Reid is use to this midfield set up, but if a play off push is going to happen, the responsibility can’t be solely on his shoulders.
The news that Paul Anderson is close to returning is a boost and may add an extra level of creativity the side needs. James Hanson and Wes Thomas are likely continue their partnership upfront.
Another Parkinson rallying call
The club have asked a lot of the fans of late and they have continued to deliver. In his pre match notes, Parkinson has asked for the fans to be that twelfth man. The Kop will happily answer the call. But a much improved performance is needed to ensure that the fans fully find their voice.
If not, the groans will be heard and the generosity off the pitch may not be as forthcoming.
Agree with some of the upgradetheparade comments though I think a more significant thing the club could do would be to sort the shop and merhandising out. The current setup is amateur at best – I’d probably spend more than the amount I do on my season ticket each year on gear for myself and kids if it was any good.
They missed out hugely on decent Capital One Final merchandise (and I’m not talking about just shirts) and he limited range of clothing and merchandise is just overpriced tat. I also can’t believe the shop isn’t open after night matches – 18000 potential customers coming out of VP and the shop is closed!
I realise we’re not as popular but I looked at the Celtic shop in Glasgow airport recently – smaller than the City shop but lots more desirable, well designed products. I would’t renew the current deal when it is up.
Mahesh, You seem to be forgetting that Rory is not ever present as he missed the Southend game when his first child was born. That night Burke and Clarke played exceptionally well as a partnership to the extent that Rory wasn’t missed at all. Indeed it could be argued that the team played better as we didn’t have the aerial assault that Rory gives us and tended to play more through midfield. To call it a massive loss is maybe a slight exaggeration!
Mick, thanks for the comment. As you mention both Burke and Clarke played very well that night. However the other time he was out, we didn’t have the same success (Colchester away).
We are talking about a player that was exceptional last year, and has carried that form into this season. Yes, we are more direct when he plays, but he’s a key reason for our defensive record. It’s very rare that we have to cope without McArdle and I am not sure how we are going to react. I hope that Burke/Clarke axis works as well tonight, and that he we don’t feel his loss as much. Until the pairing get a few games together we’ll find out if it’s an exaggeration or not…