Is this the squad that will keep Bradford City in League One?

By Jason McKeown

So that’s that then. The January transfer window closes with Bradford City having made five signings, said farewell to 10 players and retained the services of an on loan striker who switched parent clubs. It hasn’t quite been the scale of strengthening that was suggested at one stage, but the hope has to be that it leaves David Hopkin with a good enough squad to keep the Bantams in League One.

There were expectations of bigger and better, which were not unreasonable for supporters to have harboured. Hopkin had in the past talked of being ready with new signings right for the opening of the window. Stefan Rupp pledged to make funds available if City’s league position necessitated large investment. With City going through a mixed run of results over January, it has made for a backdrop of frustration.

The reality of the situation is that City’s financial situation has limited their options in this transfer window. It is now well documented that the Bantams are on track to make a £1.5 million loss this season, which is a really disappointing turn of events for a club that spent several years operating in the black, progressively climbing the ladder whilst living within its means.

It is said that Rupp had not received an accurate picture of the situation from Edin Rahic during the final few months of his reign. And that has led to some unwelcome financial surprises, as the City chairman picks up the pieces of the mess left behind by his former business partner. First and foremost, as supporters we should be very grateful that Rupp is willing to underwrite these losses. Without this financial support, the club could be heading down a dark and troubling financial path.

Repairing the damage, and plugging the financial leakage, is clearly a huge priority. Especially as it is partly linked to the spiralling player budget, where wages seem to have gone out of control. A number of players signed during the summer were on substantially better terms than those they replaced, and the club has its largest playing budget in 15 years. Whilst some of those brought in during the farcical Rahic/Michael Collins period are proving their worth, there are others not part of Hopkin’s plans who are a burden on the budget.

The Football League rules state that League One clubs can only have a maximum player budget of 60% of their overall turnover, and so a combination of rising wages and reduced season ticket and commercial revenue has squeezed City’s margins. The risk of breaking the Financial Fair Play rules became a key considersation over recent weeks. As climbing over the threshold could have triggered a fine that would have only added to the overall losses. When it came to trying to sign players on deadline day, there was a low ceiling amount on the wages that could be offered.

Another key point in the January window is Jack Payne. He signed on loan for the season last August, and though his form was excellent, it wasn’t until his December purple patch that the possibility City might lose his services suddenly emerged. With Millwall and top League One clubs rumoured to be interested, Rupp ultimately renegotiated the loan deal with Huddersfield – with City now paying a higher portion of Payne’s wages, in order to keep Payne.

This has meant increasing the wage commitment for an existing member of the squad. Absolutely vital towards City’s chances of staying in League One, but clearly it had a knock-on effect on other potential transfer business.

The upshot is that City’s transfer window couldn’t live up to previous expectations. That is of course a disappointment to supporters, and if we are relegated it might be something we look back on with regret. But the financial realities cannot be ignored. We are still dealing with the legacy of Rahic’s wretched tenure. The club is recovering on and off the field, but it will take time to get back to where we were.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the January window activity, we at least now know the shape of the squad that will hopefully prove good enough to keep Bradford City in League One for next season. There is quality in most positions, but there remains a concerning lack of depth. Part of City’s survival hopes may depend on a quiet treatment table.

Richard O’Donnell will continue to assume the number one position. Opinions on the summer signing are generally favourable and he is on course for a top three placing in the Player of the Season awards, although some WOAP readers aired their concerns about O’Donnell’s performance following the Southend defeat. He might also have done better with Shrewsbury’s free kick goal on Tuesday.

Personally I think O’Donnell has proven to be a very good signing. He has filled the large hole that was vacated by Colin Doyle’s controversial departure. The fact O’Donnell is an ever-present in the league, and City have conceded the fourth-highest number of goals, is not a brilliant record, and the 30-year-old has made mistakes. But there have been some crucial, match-winning performances from O’Donnell too. A feature of many of City’s strong run of wins in December were big O’Donnell saves at crucial moments.

Behind O’Donnell is Ben Wilson, who in two cup appearances has shipped in five goals and twice been the losing keeper in a penalty shootout. I watched both of his outings – at Macclesfield and at home to Peterborough – and he did better than that conceded record suggests. Nevertheless he hasn’t really pushed O’Donnell hard, and there would be concerns if he was required to step up for a lengthy period to cover an injury or suspension.

At right back, Paul Caddis has been a revelation. The fact that, since his debut at Peterborough, City have started performing better is no coincidence. Caddis has tremendous energy in getting up and down the field, and is adept at both defending and attacking. The former Blackburn and Birmingham man has real character and his leadership skills have shone through. Caddis has moved well clear of the injured Kelvin Mellor, who when fit might find he is more likely to resume the right midfield role he performed very well at during the first part of December.

It’s less clear-cut in the left back position, as Calum Woods, Adam Chicksen and Connor Wood compete for the one spot. Adam Chicksen has been first choice until his suspension, but his performances have attracted huge criticism from many supporters. Calum Woods, who has joined from Preston after an injury-hit few years, has a welcome level of versatility that could be useful. Woods was excellent on Tuesday and, if he can stay fit, will for now become first choice left back.

Consistency is Chicksen’s major issue, in two different ways. Firstly, he has struggled to be regularly available for selection since joining the club 18 months ago, largely due to a range of different injuries and – more recently – a couple of suspensions. On the injury front, he has clearly been unlucky; but his patchy appearance record hardly suggests he will be available for each of the last 16 games.

And there is the consistency of his performances. When on top of his game, Chicksen is a good defender who reads the game well – without necessarily crunching into tackles in the same manner as Caddis. Chicksen is also a decent passer and can produce some excellent crosses. Alas, he just doesn’t seem capable of maintaining high standards. There are too many mistakes, and several opposition wingers have given him a torrid time. All in all, I think Chicksen is an underachiever. He can be better, and it makes him a difficult player for David Hopkin to rely on.

Many have expressed disappointment that Connor Wood hasn’t featured more often, following his decent run in the side over September and October. The 22-year-old impressed, but in truth it was more from his forward play than his defensive positioning, which has been lacking. Wood has cost the team a few goals, and again that makes it tricky for Hopkin to place his full trust in him just yet. Wood may find his greater opportunities come on the left side of midfield for now. On Tuesday he started tentatively but grew into the game.

In the middle of defence, Hopkin’s first choice when playing four at the back are Anthony O’Connor and Nathaniel Knight-Percival. After producing such an outstanding performance on his debut at Shrewsbury in August, I’m not sure O’Connor has quite lived up to the potential he offers. Performances have been decent if not colossal, and although he has assumed the captaincy you’d like to see more leadership at times.

It felt like Knight-Percival was finished after his woeful performance at Accrington in October, but to his credit he has come back very strongly and proven a standout performer in recent weeks. The longest-serving player at the club is out of contract in the summer, so has plenty to play for. He seems to have toughened up.

Ryan McGowan’s departure to Dundee is a shame. He did very well coming into the side for the injured O’Connor in the December home game against Scunthorpe. He kept his place over the Christmas period, but was left out after the Southend debacle. He and O’Connor did not look a good partnership at all. McGowan’s move North of the border is for family reasons. Had he stayed, he would still have played a role over the rest of the season. But for a player who isn’t first choice, there is the bonus that his departure helped to reduced the wage bill.

Prior to McGowan’s exit, Paudie O’Connor appeared to be a strange signing. The on-loan Leeds man has swapped the Blackpool subs bench for City’s, and it’s hard to see him becoming first choice. O’Connor is highly rated at Leeds, and may find opportunities arise if Hopkin reverts back to a 3-5-2 he has tried to deploy, with mixed results.

Elsewhere, City’s defence could still yet feature Joe Riley – the summer signing is said to be on high wages and is offering Hopkin little value for money. Riley has not completed a 90 minutes all season and hasn’t featured since a feeble display at Accrington. He is not the first, and sadly won’t be the last, Manchester United youth product City have signed who looks a long way short of what’s required. Thomas Isherwood has left after failing to make any impression. When he was signed in the summer, the club were quick to nudge WOAP that it was a sign of the strength of Edin Rahic’s links in Germany. However will we get by without those links?

In midfield, Hopkin is blessed to have been able to keep Lewis O’Brien and Jack Payne, who have proven to be inspirational figures. Both endured a slight dip in performances following the extension of their loan deals, but are showing signs of coming back. Payne’s blistering December form thankfully didn’t lead to firm bids from other clubs for his services, but it did succeed in making him a marked man. You could see that Barnsley and Southend were well aware of his threat and had taken extra steps to stop him.

The superb O’Brien – who appears to have a really bright future in the game – has been of late lining up alongside Hope Akpan in a holding role. When assessing Akpan’s background upon signing during the summer, it seemed clear that he was an erratic performer – capable of both the sublime and the ridiculous. And that is what we have seen at Valley Parade so far. On his day, Akpan is a good player who can drive on the team. But for a big man you’d expect more of a physical presence. And he can be guilty of hiding when the going gets tough. Unlock his best form, and Akpan could be a big lynchpin for Hopkin. The last two games have seen promising performances.

The man of the hour David Ball has performed strongly alongside Payne. At times earlier this season you suspected Ball wasn’t Hopkin’s cup of tea, but the former Fleetwood man’s quality was too evident to ignore. He and Payne have a great understanding and are that rarest of breeds in this City team – the pair, and O’Brien, actually look like they’re enjoying themselves. Ball is never going to be a prolific scorer, but his value to the attack is considerable. In the last two games, Hopkin has played Ball and Payne alongside Connor Wood, and they worked well going forward. What Wood also needs to take on board is how hard Ball and Payne work off the ball too.

The deadline day signing of Jacob Butterfield is fascinating. The Bradford-born midfielder has an excellent career record, playing Championship football for Barnsley, Norwich, Bolton, Crystal Palace, Middlesborough and Huddersfield. In 2015 he signed for Derby for £5 million and spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. The 28-year-old has played over 300 career games. And though he has not played any first team football this season, his pedigree makes him an eye-catching signing.

Where Hopkin will play Butterfield is unknown. Perhaps he will slot in alongside Akpan, with Lewis O’Brien pushed up to the wide left attacking role. Or maybe Butterfield will play further forward, and David Ball be considered more of a striker. Wherever Butterfield plays, he can only make the team stronger.

David Hopkin has spent most of the season playing without wingers, largely due to the lack of options. Sean Scannell’s early season form was promising if not mind-blowing, and he was starting to settle into an effective player before a silly sending off against Sunderland in October. His subsequent absence through injury since has given rise to conspiracy theories a plenty, as the vagueness of how long he is out for never seems to be fixed with concrete timescales for a return. But in that regard, he has nothing on Jake Reeves – will the former Wimbledon man ever play for City again?

The only out and out wide option available to Hopkin of late was Jordan Gibson, but after a disappointing performance against Oldham in the CheckaTrade he hasn’t started again – or appeared even from the bench since the 4-0 loss against Gillingham. Hopkin clearly doesn’t fancy him, and his loan departure for Stevenage offers him a chance to finally live up to his undoubted potential.

Along with Gibson, Riley, Omari Patrick and Alex Jones, Josh Wright has been an outcast, forced to train away from the first team. Wright is the poster boy of City’s poor summer transfer business wastage, and is hugely unpopular amongst supporters. WOAP understands Colchester attempted to sign Wright on loan, but refused to meet City’s expectations over how much of the player’s salary they would cover. That no other club came in for him says a lot, but you wonder if Wright might have some small part to play now that he is staying. Nothing in football is black or white, and Wright is not as bad a player as his reputation has sunk to. Nevertheless, any clamour to get him back in the side won’t be coming from WOAP.

Jermaine Anderson and Luca Colville are amongst a host of midfielders higher up the pecking order than Wright. Colville is another player unlucky with injuries, but his three goals in 11 appearances make him a valuable squad member. Anderson’s low key start makes him look like another baffling January signing. If all Anderson achieves at Valley Parade is to block the path for Danny Devine and Eliot Goldthorp, it will be an exceptionally poor bit of business from Hopkin.

Up front, City’s struggles for goals – only seven League One sides have scored fewer – has been a burden on Eoin Doyle and George Miller. Eoin Doyle had big shoes to fill replacing Charlie Wyke, and his return so far of eight goals (three penalties) is far from prolific. But over the last few weeks, Doyle has looked more the player who in the past was deadly for Chesterfield and Oldham. His career record shows a player who blows hot and cold.

On several occasions for City this season, Doyle has been asked to sacrifice part of his game and play as a targetman. It is less suited to his strengths, and on occasions his body language suggested he was not happy with the instructions. But with improved fitness has come greater sharpness, and Doyle has been more involved. We still expect more from Doyle, but he is certainly getting there.

George Miller’s attitude can never be questioned. He works tirelessly chasing lost causes, and on top of his game is real menace to opposition teams. Confidence is an issue at times, and it is noticeable that if he doesn’t start games well, his head drops. The move from Middlesborough to Barnsley, whilst staying on loan at Valley Parade, is curious. But keeping Miller for the rest of the campaign is very important.

The return of Billy Clarke has unsurprisingly split opinion. He is not the targetman that seems to be missing. He is not a prolific goalscorer, having failed to net double figures in a season since 2014/15. And though he is an excellent number 10, City are already blessed to have Jack Payne and David Ball who can play in that role.

On his day though, Clarke is a quality player who might thrive playing alongside Payne and Ball. He loves the club, and clearly didn’t want to leave when he was sold to Charlton in the summer of 2017. And it will only further show that City will succeed through playing high press attacking football, rather than going direct. The jury has to be out on Clarke, but he is a wild card who could make a big difference. It will be very interesting to see how this one turns out.

For City, other striker options are limited, with Tom Clare yet to figure at all and Omari Patrick out of sight, after returning from a disappointing loan spell at Yeovil. It now feels like a long, long time since Patrick’s memorable debut goal against Blackpool on the opening day of the 2017/18 season. It is an understatement to say that the three-year contract he was given just two weeks later was a hasty decision on City’s part.

Not one of City’s five incomings have signed beyond the end of the season, and only 12 members of the first team squad have a deal that runs beyond the summer (and that 12 includes Wright, Riley and Tyrell Robinson). It has been a window of short-term planning, and it looks inevitable that the 2019/20 City team will look very different to now.

In the meantime, City’s strongest XI looks good – much better than that of a relegation-threatened team – and in difficult circumstances, the squad at least is starting to look stronger. The January window was not perfect, but little about this season has been ideal. We are living in pragmatic times, and hopefully that will be enough to preserve City’s League One status.

Categories: Opinion

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29 replies

  1. Excellent summery

  2. For me staying up or been relegated will depend on our defence. If we can stop conceding 2/3 goals a game we have a real chance to stay in this division since our forward players are all very good. I like Scannell and him coming back will be like a new signing.
    Billy Clarke has certainly divided opinion on social media and all those attacking the signing I don’t think are attacking him personally but the club since he is not what was needed. We needed a different type of striker to the 3 we already had, but since he is here I hope he gets a very warm welcome from everyone since he loves the club.
    Personally I would love to know what is considered a high earner and who they are, or if not who they are just what the wages are which would help understand how we got in this mess.
    I do think we will just avoid relegation but I can see it going to the final month and possibly the final game

  3. I expected a target man (a priority according to DH). The lad from Bournemouth was touted. Judging by the coming and goings he has not been signed by his other admirers in division 1. It was a big disappointment that a target man could not be signed. I believe it would have presented Hopkins with a powerful option especially chasing games. I can only think that it was down to the players budget. Likely Wright non-move put the kyber on possible target player recruitment. I agree with you regarding Jermaine Atkinson’s recruitment, I see little benefit other than warming the bench. I have a lot of sympathy regarding Devine. The only time he plays it has been out of position e.g. left back. He has not performed well in that role. He is a midfielder and should have been given the opportunity to play in that role. My final point is regarding the situation with Robinson. I know he is facing criminal charges but there seems no comment regarding the current status of the case.
    The prospect of staying in league 1 has improved with the new recruits. We can only hope and continue to support the club throughout the remaining matches and act has the 12th Man to help push city over the line.

  4. As usual excellent analysis, I feel optimistic that city will survive this season but we the fans need to support the team through positivity and not negative criticism that has been posted on social media at the moment. Come on cityyyyy #CTID

  5. Getting Riley and Wright of the wage bill (even partially) is a big blow. You dread to think what sort of contract Rahic negotiated which is putting of other clubs. Not getting in a target man is also not great but we all know (or should do) that they are not easy to come by. That said scoring goals recently has not been a problem so offensively Hopkin may take the view now that he can make do. Billy will do for me. Lets give him a great welcome back and get behind the team

  6. Great analysis again. I, for one, cannot understand the abundance of midfielders though.
    One of Rahic’s biggest blunders was doing away with the reserve/u23 development side.
    Surely competitive game time for squad players is invaluable and would have also given Hopkin a chance to see them in action other than training.

  7. Oh dear! the January window is the mixture as before. The question has to be asked, do the club officials think their fans are fools? if not then why do they continue to treat them as such? why do I say this? please read on….

    in the days and weeks before the window opened once again we were told:-
    the manager had identified the areas he wished to strengthen and potential targets had been identified. the club aimed to hit the ground running and were only targeting players to improve the first eleven. they weren’t looking for squad players to warm the bench who would only play due to injury or suspension of first teamers.

    Immediately the window had opened the message changed abruptly…..the club wouldn’t be held to ransom and were going to play a waiting game through the window to get the players they wanted.
    When the first three signings arrived they were just what the club said they weren’t looking for….bench warmers. players who wouldn’t displace any of the first eleven and would only likely get game time at the end of matches as City looked to run down the clock.

    Once again we were left scrabbling around as the deadline approached, looking through a fast dwindling pool at those players who hadn’t already been snapped up.

    Butterfield looks like a first rate signing and no one can have any complaints there.

    At the window’s opening there was universal agreement amongst fans on the attributes lacking in the existing strikers, gaps which needed filling. we needed a front man with the physical strength to cause problems for central defenders and give them something to worry about. we needed a man who, with his back to goal in and around the opposition area could lay the ball off and bring others into the play. we needed a front man with the aerial ability to get on the end of crosses. none of the existing strikers possess these attributes. I don’t blame them. it’s not their fault that they aren’t that type of striker. I have to therefore question the reacquisition of Billy Clarke. he too does not possess the missing abilities. he, like the existing strikers is simply not that type of player. if the club were looking to bring back a former player then they would have been better advised to have gone for James Hanson.

    Due to the reasons outlined above I must admit that I fear for the rest of the season. the worry about the very real threat of relegation has resurfaced with a vengeance.

    • Paul, you make excellent points and your concern is vey legitimate.
      Due to a lack of financial support from Rupp the Club is literally gambling that with 16 games left in the season that barring injuries will struggle to survive.
      The current scenario is not a good endorsement for what to expect next season with expensive fringe players like Wright, Riley, Robinson, Gibson, Patrick, McCartan and Reeves all under contract for another year. With the financial drain created by these seven players, supporters can likely expect another struggling season.
      Sad to say that is reality and I expect lots of criticism for posting it.

      • WoodyCanuck, you state “due to a lack of financial support from Rupp…..”. Fees paid for Wyke, Reeves, McCartan, Poleon, Doyle and Scannell alone, must amount to £1.5M. Add reported earnings of £3k per week for signings who can’t even make the match day squad and throw in a six figure sum for pitch refurbishment. As a result of the Rahic era, a reduction in season ticket income and commercial income has had to be subsidised from somewhere, probably Stefan Rupp.

        Stefan Rupp was guilty of having too much faith in the ability of Edin Rahic but I don’t think anyone can accuse him of failing to provide financial support. This is from a man who has little interest in football and probably even less emotional interest in Bradford City.

        I’d guess Stefan Rupp is a hard nosed businessman but, to date, he’s acted as a philanthropist for Bradford City. I understand Stefan reads these social media sites and, if I was in his position, I’d walk away if fans start making unwarranted personal comments. I think we all know the consequences if he decides he’s had enough and withdraws his financial support.

      • Steven J, my comment “lack of financial support” relates to Rupp’s promise of support to Hopkin. Promised last November and repeated in December. Ask yourself, are we now being told to believe he was ignorant to the financial state of the club when he made that promise of support. Either Rupp is naive or a gullible investor and neither choice looks good on him.
        The nominal investment in keeping Payne is the only positive thing I can say about his promised support. Bluntly stated, he is gambling that City will avoid serious injuries and avoid relegation.
        Rupp’s lack of substantial investment in January does not bode well for next season and his ownership.

  8. Jason, I’ve noted you’ve backed away from your claim that the player payroll is in the top five. Now you are claiming the Financial Fair Play Rules and City’s desire not to break the rules for Rupp’s lack of investment in January. Which is it, it can’t be both?
    Based on the 60% of turnover rule, City’s player payroll is approximately £3.0 to £3.5 million. Far, far short of last season’s £5.5 to £6.0 million required for fifth place in the payroll league table. Your financial reasoning for Rupp’s very modest January investment can only be justified via the FFP Rules being a limiting factor for his investment.
    It appears that talk of a top five payroll was only hyperbole on your part to promote Rupp and improve his tainted image. Obviously, without his continued investment the Club will definitely be in dire straits. However, I would say you are doing the City supporters a disservice by blindly supporting Rupp and ignoring or at least minimizing his involvement in creating the current nightmare situation.
    After sheltering Rahic for 2 1/2 years I would have thought you would have learned not to put so much faith and trust in his partner. I would suggest that an unbiased approach to reporting on Rupp is warranted based on his questionable recent past with the Club.
    We all hope Mr Rupp is an honourable man and corrects the mistakes he and his partner have made. Let’s judge him via his actions rather than his words. I am skeptical about his intentions and will likely remain so for some time to come.

    • Hi Paul

      Not backed away from any claim. As discussed before your figures are highly questionable in terms of their sources.

      If you want to discuss further please send me an email and I will reply next week.

      Apologies to be short. But I’ve had a long week and i want to focus on spending the weekend with my wife and kids.


      • Jason, the numbers just do not add up for a claim of top five league payroll.
        I have no problem with you ignoring my figures and media source for last season’s player payroll figures. Common sense should tell you that now introducing the FFP Rules does you no favours. The numbers being provided by your “inside source” don’t add up.
        City have a turnover of about £5.0 to £5.5 million and therefore a ballpark player payroll of about £3.0 million and only a £1.5 million potential loss for the season. I would estimate City would need a loss of at least twice the figure quoted for City to be claiming a top five payroll. Also, do you honestly think a £3.0 million payroll would rank in the top five league table??
        I agree it is likely the largest budget in the past 15 years but how much of that increase is due to adding the development squad into the traditional senior squad figures? I would suspect that Riley and Isherwood did not come cheaply.
        Jason, these unsubstantiated rumours and biased reporting in favour of Rupp may come back to haunt you. Take care.

      • As i said last time, Simon Parker in the T&A has reported that City have a top six budget.

        So that’s the T&A and WOAP reporting the same thing vs your theory.

        Why don’t you go and have a moan at him instead? Seriously it is my weekend and I have better things to do than justify myself to you, especially when other readers want me to ban you.

      • Jason, sad to say but resorting to threats does your beliefs no favour. I am only stating in a civil manner my reasons for not agreeing with your unsubstantiated rumours.
        Whoever your source is they better fine tune their math skills. The numbers don’t add up if they are now also claiming FFP concerns. That I believe is an indisputable fact.

    • Lets see whose opinion carries more weight? The chap who spends 24/7 on his lap top on the other side of the world and has attended a handful of games in the last 50 years or a respected jobbing journo with a plethora of contacts and an equally respected blogger who lives and breaths the Bantams and has an enviable following on social media.Keep the guy on for comedy value Jason .

      • Obviously Paul, you have the same deficiency that Jason and Parker have. They both have excellent writing skills but their math skills are definitely challenging. This week’s new claim that the Club have concerns about the FFP Rules is a legitimate concern. The problem for Jason and Parker is that it totally debunks their “unsubstantiated “ claim that City have a payroll that ranks in the top five. I doubt a £3million payroll would rank much higher than tenth place in the League One payroll table.
        Obviously, Jason is embarrassed by this rationalization and is issuing threats.
        I suspect that Rhodes originally stated that City’s payroll this year is the largest in the past 15 years which I personally don’t dispute. However, someone in the media decided to embellish that statement with the false rumour that City had a top five or top six payroll. This clearly shows the media’s intent to portray Rupp in the best light possible.
        A simple solution to the debate would be to have Rhodes comment on the “rumour.”

  9. 12 players under contract for next season include:


    That’s is very worrying.

    • Very worrying Gareth. Scannell I don’t have a problem with as I think he will come good but Wright, Riley, Reeves and McCartan will be on a decent wage we could do without

      • Possibly worrying, but possibly not….

        With the exception of Wright, Riley and possibly Gibson all the other players have shown us they can play – and relatively recently too.

        McCartan is playing wonderfully at Lincoln, Patrick and Scannell have shown us they can play. Reeves and Robinson – well, we’ll have to wait and see there, – but they were good players and winning rave reviews not long since.

        Why these players are so far away from the team is anyone’s guess but I hope they haven’t been written off completely and have a route back into the team if they want it . Remember Mark Marshall wasn’t favoured by Parky. Look what a change of management did for his career!

        I just hope we’re not binning off talent uneccessarily. There’s nothing worse than see a player we’ve sacked off terrorising us at VP or scoring for fun for another team…!

    • Robinson is under criminal investigation, is he not? Was his contract not suspended as soon as that was announced? If no charges are brought his contract (and wage) becomes valid, but surely he is not being paid now?

      I hope Robinson is found to have committed no crime; but if he is found guilty there must be significant consequences for Bradford City as a business.

      • Employees usually receive full pay during a period of suspension, unless their contract states the Employer can suspend without pay. Given the circumstances of Robinson’s suspension, I assume he is still receiving full pay.

  10. Out of curiosity have you asked what the Reeves situation is? Is anyone at the club or the player himself willing to make a statement?

  11. I thought WOAP was a woody free zone, get rid of the idiot. He completely dominates T&A comments page and is totally boring. I understand that people are allowed an opinion but he abuses the privilege. PLEASE GET RID.

  12. I agree with Jason but am very worried about the long term and short term future. We might survive this season but we will have great problems next. The future looks bleak to me. All due to rahic. I cannot understand the Robinson situation. I always thought a man was innocent until proved guilty. I would love to know

  13. Jason.

    Thank you for detailed assessment of the playing strength and for your commentary on the Club’s financial position. However, given these constraints I would have thought ensuring League 1 status by investing in the team would have been a more sensible approach since relegation will result in lower revenue but the same cost base due to player’s contracts, thereby increasing the deficit.

    Like others, I feel that the January transfer window was under whelming. It seemed to about cutting costs rather than addressing deficiencies with the team/squad to retain League 1 status. I do accept that some of the players that moved on were not of League 1 quality but in my opinion McGowan was a competent defender and Gibson had potential and knew where the goals were. I was disappointed that Hopkin released Jones. He had scored goals in this league for both Port Vale and City in the play off season – and playing in a 2nd striker role he looked a possible “natural goalscorer” like Nakki Wells.

    It is possibly too early to judge Hopkin. But, it took him 12/13 games to work out the best formation for the players he inherited, then after a good run he changed it v Barnsley and Southend with disastrous consequences. Plus, he must accept some responsibility for the poor recruitment in the January window – “loving the club” does not seem a good reason to resign Clarke. If it was we would all be playing! His constant moaning about referees and his treatment of those players “not in his plans” was poor suggests to me that he has more work to do to become a quality manager in the Parkinson mould.

  14. Excellent as ever Jason.I think its the best we could have hoped for.Not sure if Reeves is even fit yet (or ever will be) but with Wright reported on £200k and others sat there that nobody would take it restricted just how many could come in.The “Hedge” bet ensures it all has a fighting chance but the company will not be contract tied in if it fails and L2 arrives.I do not think it will but this is now a very fine balancing act with the “numbers” going forward.I counted 40 names on a programme to Charlton”s 30.Many have gone (praise the lord) but there is still a few to get out.Hopkin is brilliant in his comments.Indeed the only place left for them is non league or Ireland.Good business.Incidently Parker”s comment of a £1.5 million loss is qualified.It could be even higher.What a silly silly man Mr Rahic was.Poor Mr Rupp will be wondering how he ever fell for the “dream” of Mr Rahic.I think we should feel lucky that Mr Rupp is not prepared to just write the whole thing off financially and sell at a loss.Even a price of £2 Million for the club would sound overpriced.The only true asset rests with Mr Gibb.For now.So its a good job he has committed something in still more extra cost in this window.What a complete mess even if we finish tenth.

    • Reeves worries me.

      When I think back to Stephen Darby’s last season at VP I wonder whether he was out of the side because he was being hampered by the onset of his (then undiagnosed) MND – we’ll never know.

      Lets hope that Jake has a stubburn hamstring or similar, or that he’s fallen out with the management, or that he has some other temporary impediment rather than anything more serious.

  15. Thanks Jason – an excellent summative analysis. The question I cannot resolve in my own mind and which you allude to is this:
    Could the (limited) available resources in the transfer window not have been used better ? I don’t suppose anyone knows exactly how much we will be paying Anderson, O’Connor and Clarke. But add their wages together and might not this have made a bid for a target man more attractive? It’s not just the ability of such a player to bring in others vis any attacking role but also to help when under pressure defensively. How many times this season have we seen the defence, when under pressure, lump a long ball up to Doyle only for it to come straight back? You are right, Doyle is improving, but the maths are simple . A 5′ 10″ man will struggle to win a header against someone who is 6′ 3″. So, my question to Hopkin would be “wouldn’t the money that will be spent on Anderson, O’Connor and Clarke have been better deployed” ? Maybe it still would have been insufficient but I remain troubled by this question !

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