Stop Jack Payne, stop Bradford City

By Jason McKeown 

The secret’s out. Daniel Stendel knows it. Chris Powell and Gareth Ainsworth too. And now we can add Joey Barton to the list of League One managers who have figured out how to neuter the Bantams.

Stop Jack Payne, stop Bradford City. After David Hopkin’s men ran riot over the festive period, scoring goals for fun and edging out of the relegation zone, opponents have got wise to their threat. Flood the central midfield. Place a couple of anchors in front of the back four. Squeeze the space on the pitch where Payne has been devastatingly effective. And the attacking threat of Bradford City becomes one-dimensional and easy to defend.

Hopkin had found a winning formula from building a team around his two numbers 10s – Payne and David Ball – giving them the platform to roam around the final third, in-between the lines of opposition midfield and defence. The reward had not just been a surge in results, but some terrific football. In a season where the bar has lowered, the quality of the performances in beating Walsall, Scunthorpe, Rochdale and Accrington had been commendable. City were playing their way out of trouble. Some supporters even claimed it was the best football the Bantams had played in years.

But that’s all come an abrupt halt, and it leaves Hopkin with mounting headaches, going into the final third of the season. Against Barnsley, Southend, Wycombe and now Fleetwood, the opposition have taken measures to stop Payne by outnumbering and denying him time and space. The January window arrival of another number 10, Billy Clarke, shows Hopkin continues to place a lot of weight on his 4-2-3-1/3-4-1-2 approach keeping Bradford City in League One. Now, he’s going to have to rethink it. Without an abundance of alternative options.

Fleetwood’s counterbalance to Bradford City’s gameplan was the most stark demonstration yet of the need to go back to the drawing board. In a truly awful football match, the Cod Army took an early lead when woeful City defending allowed Paddy Madden to smash a James Wallace cross into the roof of the net. It allowed the visitors to stink the place out. Adopting time-wasting techniques early doors to continually disrupt City’s momentum. They parked the bus in front of Alex Cairns’ goal, dutifully dabbling in the dark arts in order to see out their advantage.

It is disappointing to see Joey Barton – who likes to portray himself as a deep thinker of the game – resort to such cynical tactics. He will argue – with justification – that Fleetwood don’t have the same scale of resources of other clubs in League One, including Bradford City, so he must make the most of what he has. They were a horrible, horrible team to watch, but their approach earned the three points. And, ultimately, that’s all that matters.

Fleetwood laid the traps, and City fell into them. There was a debate before the game that David Hopkin is a long ball manager, and watching the Bantams resort to direct balls towards George Miller, which were continually dealt with by the outstanding Harry Souttar and Ashley Eastham, will do little to dispel this belief. But this was not the intention of Hopkin.

Before co-commentating on the Pulse today, we had a pre-match, 10-minute conversation with Hopkin, where he outlined his tactics and thinking behind his team selection. With Connor Wood struggling with knock, Jacob Butterfield had been brought in central midfield with Lewis O’Brien pushed into one of the three attack positions, behind George Miller.

Hopkin explained Butterfield was looking excellent in training, and he wanted him to play deep alongside Hope Akpan, spraying the ball around the park and setting up attacks. He was wary of the physical dominance of Fleetwood’s two central defenders, so opted for Miller over Doyle because the on-loan Barnsley forward is adept at running the channels, dragging defenders out of position and creating space, which he hoped Payne and Ball could exploit. He wanted the ball played to feet, not in the air, which was where he hoped Butterfield and Miller would make the difference.

It didn’t work out that way. Butterfield showed signs of his quality, but lacked match sharpness and speed of thought on the ball. He will get better over the next few weeks, but was largely ineffective on his full debut. Miller started okay, but his confidence appeared to wane all too quickly. He stopped making those runs, and City couldn’t get the ball into areas where they could then find him.

Sadly that meant the team defaulted to going direct. There was a lack of courage on the ball. Anthony O’Connor and Nathaniel Knight-Percival – who had his worst game in weeks – kept hoofing it long. Richard O’Donnell showed no appetite to roll the ball out to his back four, so the team could pass it around. The City keeper’s kicking was off colour. The endless high balls into the middle of the park were meat and drink for Fleetwood’s backline. It was incredibly frustrating for everyone to watch, and that will include Hopkin.

Ultimately it is not the first time that a football team has failed to stick to a manager’s gameplan, and I can’t think of a single former City boss who hasn’t endured an afternoon as directionless as this, when his players did the opposite of what they ask. As the cliche goes, when the players cross the white line there’s not a lot the manager can do.

When the players did get the ball in the final third, there was a lack of tempo that made City easy to defend against. Several passes, usually with the ball ending up in a wide position, before a predictable high cross that was cleared with ease. There was no innovation. No speed of thought. Payne beat a couple of men on a few occasions, but his final ball lacked quality. O’Brien’s effort and work rate can’t be faulted, but he needed to use the ball better. If the last home game against Shrewsbury was Ball’s best game for the club, this was easily his worst.

Usually City’s three best performers, Payne, Ball and O’Brien just didn’t have the space to link up and create chances. But Fleetwood didn’t let them. Barton has been playing a 4-3-3 formation in recent weeks, but off the ball here Ashley Hunter and Madden dropped into midfield to make it 4-5-1. It stifled City, bringing the attack to a halt. And though the home side created a few chances to equalise, there was never a period of sustained period. Only the slenderness of the scoreline allowed us to retain any hope.

From the bench there were options, but not in a way that could change the game. Eoin Doyle did okay when he came on, but was easily crowded off the ball. Taking off Payne once again raised eyebrows, and the like for likeness of his replacement Billy Clarke meant there was no tangible gain from the switch. Luca Colville came on for Miller in the closing stages, but there was no space for him to make an impact. The irony of the accusation that Hopkin is too long ball is that he probably could and should have pushed one of his centre backs up into the attack during the closing stages.

Hopkin has received a huge amount of criticism post match. After such a wretched City display, that’s understandable. He has broad enough shoulders to deal with the arrows. His overall record as manager doesn’t read great on paper, but to solely look at that is to ignore the mess he inherited, the toxic mood around Valley Parade during Edin Rahic’s final weeks, and the fact the finances were so badly managed last summer, which limited what Hopkin could do on the transfer front during January.

I’m happy to stick my neck out and support Hopkin. I think the situation has similarities to Phil Parkinson’s first season in charge of the Bantams in 2011/12, where he kept City in League Two – but with inherited issues to sort out he was far from impressive. Yet there was an air that Parkinson was addressing the culture of the club and making long-term meaningful changes – and ultimately those bore fruit in spectacular fashion.

This week’s news Hopkin has arranged for photos of Valley Parade to be installed on the training ground corridors might seem incidental, but they are part of an objective of restoring that winning culture over the long-term. Shortly after joining, Hopkin had been amazed to find some of Phil Parkinson’s old things within the manager’s office at the training ground. He feels certain details around the club had been taken for granted or neglected.

Hopkin talked to us before the game about the Valley Parade fire and his intention of getting the squad to learn all about the disaster and the impact it has had on Bradford City supporters. These and other initiatives are not the actions of a manager merely happy to take his turn passing through the revolving door of Bradford City, whilst not really caring about the club.

If he can keep the Bantams in League One next season, I believe Hopkin can deliver long-term success at the club. We’ve given in to far too much short-termism at Valley Parade over the past 12 months, and at some stage we have to stick with a manager during the bumps in order to let them build something. Hopkin’s level-headed assurance, coupled with his considerable success at Livingston, offer reasons to stick by him.

That said, these new few weeks are clearly a time where Hopkin will need to demonstrate his worth to his public. Fleetwood’s unsubtle approach tore apart his gameplan. Next week, it’s Plymouth Argyle and Derek Adams – a man who has enjoyed considerable success from the school of tactics that Barton is diligently following. We can expect a similar type of opposition approach next week, so what’s Hopkin going to do differently?

Because against Fleetwood, we probably saw damning confirmation that things can’t go on as they are. What had made City successful has been worked out and thwarted by other teams. A new way is needed. A different plan of action must be developed on the training ground, and it must be developed quickly.

If, in a week’s time, we’re talking about a Plymouth Argyle victory at Valley Parade, with Hopkin having played a similar formation to before, those questions about Hopkin will get louder, and they will be more difficult to defend. This is a pivotal week in Bradford City’s season. And it is also a big, big week for the Bradford City manager.

Categories: Match Reviews

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43 replies

  1. People knock Chicksen and maybe rightly so when compared against the likes of Meredith et all but please someone enlighten me as to what Akpan offers, the man is 6 ft + , probably 14st+ and has all the impact of a powder puff, doesnt tackle seldom moves, total waste of time. Now and again makes the odd half hearted attempt at a block but please we have a better centre midfielder in Devine sat on the bench. We are in a situation where we need men to stand up, not shrink. Hopkin didnt influence todays game, he swapped like for like, which wasnt working. Keeper kept pumping the ball long, might of just given Fleetwood the ball back. Surely our palyers are intelligent enough to realise that the tactics arent working and Hopkins is lost as to what to do, THINK FOR YOURSELVES AND ADJUST, not rocket science. Hopkin can not lose face, if by thinking for themselves we win, he wins, if we still lose, he cliams they didnt follow the game plan. This is getting serious now. Sort it out.

  2. No plan B good managers see the game and change things and personal early and don’t leave it to late it’s called tactical awareness didn’t see any today,and the selection of miller up front against a physical tall back four was inept ,no width no target man bringing a centre half in from leeds and a midfielder from Peterborough and not playing then what’s going on anyone know let me into it.

  3. I know the 8 year olds on a certain Bradford City web site will disagree…all six of them that contribute, but could anyone really suggest that a James Hanson type centre forward would not give this team another dimension and a plan B? And would Stuart get more from these players than David Hopkins? And Is Nicky Law a worse player than the absolutely anonymous Akpan? Desperately short of someone to hold the all up and I really believe we were waiting to be found out….however the boo boys at the end really need to revisit the Ikea or whatever they did prior to the cheap season ticket offer because they are a massive negative disease at the club. Rant over.

    • Another question from Jason’s article is did Hopkin find the formula for December run or was it forced upon him,? Afterall he had persisted going ling to no target man for a lot if defeats without trying sonething different.

      I think the blog is been a little easy on Hopkin poor management today tbh

      • Forced on him by who exactly?

        I’m not sure we’ve been too easy on him. I’ve written that his tactics have been found out and he needs to come up with a new plan, that feels pretty critical to me! I appreciate you have a certain view on the game today and I’m pleased you’ve aired it, but please let’s not turn it into an argument. We are all entitled to our opinions.

      • Jason I’m not arguing I’m debating.. this us possibly the first time ever I have not appluaded a width if a post article which is amazing considrring football opinions
        …my forced reference is due to players available forcing his hand. Afterall he persisted banging the ball up to Doyle for a very long winless run before December…..

      • I know we are not arguing.

        Nothing changed in terms of injuries that ‘forced’ Hopkin to play a different way in December. He found a way of playing that was successful. I believe he has tried to keep playing that way, including today, but it has been found out.

        I genuinely don’t believe Hopkin wanted us to play direct today. That’s my opinion, but it is one qualified by speaking to him. It was just a very poor performance. One that means we go back to the drawing board.

      • Don’t you think though that he could have just asked/told O Donnell to go short? The keeper isn’t panicking with ball in hand.. …thus whilst you’ve accounted for his tactics prior to kick off it’s in in game tactics that deserve questioning

        It’s an interesting question with our current statistic and inability to win a game once behind. This article questions the players and they have been questioned regarding mentality when losing. However shouldn’t the manager and tactics also be questioned? An inabilty to change the game perhaps? Or adapt tactics,? Watching Akpan been over run and out numbered against Southend at home for example whereby even after the first 5 minutes this was essy to see yet we did nothing and the game was out of sight…..

        And this is the crux of my point. Hopkin blamed the players on the radio but imo he is also very culpable in his failure to change tactic today and on other occasions

      • Hi Jason. Any view on my above points?

        Woap posts are correct 9 times out of 10. But i feel it time to question his tactics imo. The keeper big boot is from Hopkin instruction. No doubt about it, as it occurs all the time. It does not plsy to our strengths and it’s contributing to our inability to come back from a losing position. To say that Hopkin didn’t want to play this way pre game may be correct but he didn’t stop it for 80 mins. Either way thats poor management imo

      • Come on! It is not the first time. There are many other examples of questionable tactical and team selection. Always the same excuse. Defender error, penalty decision not given etc it is matches like this city need to get something. Booing the team is not the answer neither is it the case for the manager to criticise the fans for their behaviour. One could argue they behaved out of frustration. Clearly opposition teams have the measure of city and not the other way round. Also it is clear that the opposing sides do their homework. Does DH do the same? You cannot play tactics that doesn’t suit the team that’s selected. You must play to their strengths. The clock is ticking and the more these inept tactics are applied when chasing a game the likelihood is another defeat. Plymouth on Saturday is a must win. Anything less than that is unacceptable. So I suggest the coach sits down with his players and gets them playing to their strengths and the punting thep ball up field in the hope that our strikers grow an extra foot before Saturday is a non starter. I’m afraid DH is running out of excuses and time.

    • If only you had clapped harder Martyn, you could have drown out the boos with your harder clapping. Its fans like you not clapping hard enough thats the problem

      • No it’s dick head boo boys who create an atmosphere of fear in games we should be winning….you don’t have to clap harder…just find something else to do on a Saturday as I said Ikea is open….

  4. Sorry but I have to disagree for once with your overview of the game. For 80 minutes we went long. Hopkin had an whole half time team talk to negate this. He could have played the ball to his full backs and draw them out or at the least this would have enabled us to play into the corners and get behind them.

    Indeed Hopkin has instructed o Donnell to go long with kicks since his arrival. He does this as fast as possible. Point is how many actual goals has this led to,? I’m sorry but Hopkin looked incapable of changing the tactics that were failing and playing into their hands. Despite the lack of a targetman we still went long and it is by design otherwise he would stop it. And if he can’t then that is poor management anyway.

    IF wood was carrying a knock then fair enough but the changes also made a huge difference. Obrien Payne and Ball were less effective. The cross field ball was ineffectual and pointless with such a huge gap between millar and everyone else at times.

    Also why were we suddenly playing long corners when previously we have played short ones against much smaller sides than this?

    Overall Hopkin got this very wrong today and the jury us very much out on him tbh. He persisted with a long ball game during the long winless run prior to December and with no one to play that role really he continues to return to it. However you dress it up it’s by design as seen by the actions if the keeper…..he needs both a plan A and B imo

    • Ps you state that Butterfield lacked match sharpness yet he took Akpan off,?? Despite the latter been one of the few to try and get the ball down

    • Hi Danny

      I’m not trying to dress anything up. I’m simply saying I had a conversation with Hopkin before the game where he shared how he intended to play, and from what I saw the players didn’t live up to those instructions.

      A lot has been made about O’Donnell. For me the biggest issue was O’Donnell’s distribution was very poor today. Think back to the Rochdale game in December, where we were playing excellent football, and the third goal that day came from an O’Donnell goal kick. I fully agree with you I’d like him to play it short. Players also need to make themselves an option for that to happen.

      And again, as I wrote in the report, attempts to play passing football in the middle of the park, through the numbers 10s, failed because Fleetwood flooded the midfield, put men behind the ball and completely denied us space. I don’t think the plan was to play long, but it is unfortunately what happened because of Fleetwood’s approach. I think players should take more responsibility and be braver on the ball.

      • I wasnt meaning to be rude btw…But he never changed this. Even after half time. The full backs do not show for the ball becsuse this is by instruction. It has to be. I do not think an experienced and confident player like Caddis would not go for the ball short. I also add that we still went ling when winning from the keeper.

        Yep we scored o e from this tactic but how many poi ts had it cost too,?

        I’m not a fan that is just targeting a player or manager then find I g reason to do so. As u say my opinion of hopkin is still very much open and queztioning. He got it badly wrong today as he did at Barnsley and other games.
        You can argue that the reason we have failed to come back all season when losing is due yo Hopkin lack of ability to change things or the mystical plan B….a fair point I hope you agree

      • Ok you spoke with DH about how he wanted to play. The team decided the long punt approach. DH is the manager why is it that the team play the way they do in a lot of the matches they lose. Southend a classic example now Fleetwood is another. The impact of the on field players tactics is likely defeat. DH must accept a high degree of culpability for this high ball approach. He is the tactician, the team selector and the motivator. He also must know what teams will do to nullify the way we play and therefore have a plan or tactic to deal with it. Clearly he does not. If he did we would lose less games. He cannot continue to blame the team and/or officials when things go wrong.

  5. Five of the starters are loanees, other starters are on contracts until May whilst players on long term contracts are not allowed to train with the First Team squad and it appears once out of favour with the Manager you remain out of favour for perpetuity. Genuine question is what effect does this have on the team spirit and cohesion?

    • Yes I certainly think the loanee factor must have a great influence.

      Miller knows he will be playing higher grade football next season as does Payne and probably O Brien. You could argue Ball is playing for a contract but Butterfield- now a journeyman playing for a contract extension?

      It cannot be good that 5 of your front 6 are loaners. If you take the view the NKP, Caddis, Woods are at best useful at this level this season but next has Father Time against them – it is very depressing.

      In some ways Hopkins success in December has worked against him as before we had every expectation of ignominious relegation. Hope was sparked and it’s the hope that kills you.

      Can’t now see beyond relegation and maybe one next season. Just can’t see logic in dismantling 2017 Wembley side with apparently more expensive players?

      Finally a little rant about £150 Season Tickets. It was all very well when the Club had momentum but who the hell in their right mind wants to fork out money to watch a sub-standard side invariably get beaten week in, week out. Sadly until we get back to real world economics and charge a realistic price – we will never prosper (unless you get a committed billionaire owner). Who shops today anywhere at 2007 prices? And if they do what quality of product or service do they get?

  6. Eek, first time I’ve really thought we could go down. Prior to December, I thought we looked good and if we could just click we would be ok, we clicked, I was happy, all good. Today though, that was a lost team after the goal, no belief.

    Center mid 7
    Hope, butterfield, O’Brien, Devine, colville, Wright, fella we signed from shrewsbury, Reeves (?)
    Wingers 0
    Scanned (injured), Robinson (legal issues)
    #10s 3
    Payne, ball, Clarke
    Strikers 2
    Miler, Doyle plus Patrick and Clare but apparently they are not allowed to play

    How did we end up with this ‘balance’? Bustterfield looks good to me and Clarke is decent but how on earth were they seen as needed in the window?

    • I Listened to David Hopkin’s post match interview on the Pulse where he alluded to the fact that that he had inherited a squad with limited depth and lots of injuries.

      In December, we seemed to have found a successful formula which was winning games. From this I concluded that the January window was to add strength and depth to the team which was winning in December. However in January/February, it seems that some teams have found a way to combat the formation/tactics which was winning us games.

      I think some fans are being unreasonable in their expectations of David Hopkin and some (not all) of the criticism is unfair.

      Hopkin has inherited a squad that was disjointed, lacking in depth and lots of injuries/unfit players. Many of the fans were rightly criticising the weak benches in games at the start of the season. David Hopkin is spinning plates in trying to add depth to the bench to complement the existing players, plus adding to this with different types of players to find a plan B and C etc. all whilst operating under a financial deficit.

      In a season that has seen us dogged with injuries can we afford to sign different types of players? If a player became injured, we would have to completely change the formation and play different types of players (i.e. wingers etc) just to accommodate the injured player. Surely we have to be looking to add depth to the squad first and foremost to have backup for the starting 11, over and above this it would be nice to have a winger and a target man etc.

  7. The game was dire, little more I can say.

    However, what I wanted to talk about is the club’s reliance on loan players. If I look at our best players during are tenure in League 1 from 2013, its full of loan players. In no particular order; Cullen, Reeves, Evans, Payne, O’Brien, Ball, Pickford, Stead, Hiwula, Gilliead, Warnock, Callum Guy and Adam Reach to name ones which stick out. I feel that it’s somewhat of a false economy as come the end of the season we end up having to re-build the core of our team. I feel this perpetual rebuilding is holding the club back.

    The issue is lots of the players I stated above were our ‘stand out’ player, for the season they played for us. However, I feel we can’t create a sustainable model based upon the current strategy. To be clear loanees have a purpose and I’m not against them but I rather have a player who might be less able now, who stays for 3-4 years and improve, than bringing in a quick fix. I’m not saying we buy more Alex Jones, Jake Reeves or Shay McCartan but more players in their late twenties/early thirties (Kilgallon, McMahon etc) who can impart experience to our youth/developing players (Devine etc).

    I’ve not analysed or have the mental memory to think which loanee players those teams promoted to Championship have had in their 1st team, during our 7 years in League 1. I hope that not all of those teams were heavily dependent upon bringing in top loanees like we have which I feel is hindering us (yes that sounds bizarre!). We need to change our approach.

    • The problem is we simply no longer have that core of trusted professionals at the club (think Jones, Darby, Macca, Law etc etc). They don’t have to be world beaters but have to provide that experience and consistency.

      Once you have that base a few marquee loan signings can make all the difference.

      Our problem – as you rightly point out – is that we’re full of loaners. Young lads who are learning their trade. It’s simply unrealistic and probably unfair to expect them to shoulder the weight of our current plight.

      One thing’s for sure though – we are where we are. What ever you think of DH we just have to trust in him and hope he finds a why the keep us up.

      I’m pretty sure booing isn’t going to help.

      • Hi Andy – I total agree with you. It’s about injecting loan players it a team which has a solid core. At present its seems we have weak core and an over reliance on loan players. So we end up with a team who so far this season have only gained 1 pt after conceding first. I’m with DH and hope that this summer he starts to build a team with a ‘backbone’ but it might take a while to get back to where were under the peak of PP.

  8. At the end of the day a mistake was the difference between the teams. IF we had got away with a scruffy draw there would not be all this hand wringing with regard to tactics and performances. Barton did a job on us with a game plan which matches his personality …nasty and irritating. It may get him a scruffy win against a relegation threatened team but not much more you suspect. i do think that there is a danger that we overstretch ourselves if we try to minutely dissect tactics and strategy. Leave that to the professionals.if Miller had stuck in that chance which he should have at least got on target we would not have got this response. You cannot take away from Hopkin the progress made and the recent decent run and all the negative angst helps no one. PPs tactics were hardly sophisticated so lets all keep a sense of perspective and get behind the manager and team.

    • Not so sure about that. Yep a point would have been great now but thst does not hide from the FACT that Hopkin as again failed to change a losing position into a positive result. I’m not anti hopkin or anything but I feel it is time to question his tactics. Jason points out his intention not to go long pre game. Yet we have constantly seen our keeper doing just that. He is doing it under instruction. He has to be otherwise the manager has no control over his players which would be even more worrying.

      Our tactics have been found out. I agree with Jason on this but to focus solely on the players is wrong. 80 minutes to try something different. Something as simple as playing our from the back, but nope. Our inability to come from behind and get a win also suggests that we cannot break teams down and FIND a way tactically to do this. When the fans ironically applaud the keeper finally rolling the ball out to a player in the last ten minutes, I’m sorry but why couldn’t the manager see this? .the tactics were poor imo and next Saturday is now a must not lose game imo….

      • Nine repetitive posts. I think we’ve got your drift by now. Taking up Jason’s valuable family time, querying his comments. You’re not a reincarnation of Woody Canuck are you, Danny?

      • Nope. I’ve said that this is the first time I’ve had to disagree. They have a fantastic record of getting it right I’m in a debate thus the posts. However my points raised haven’t been answered. And the points are valid. And based on fact of what was witnessed on Saturday. Whereas Woody is just conspiracy imo. Perhaps my repetitive posts are born out of the fact that my points havent been answered or recognised? And if Hopkin doesn’t recognise them then our beloved club ate going down….

  9. The whole day and tactics basically unravelled as soon as they scored. Even before they scored you could see they were more intent on spoiling than playing, but as soon as that soft goal went in. It was clear they would then just time waste for the rest of the game. I can’t say they were a better side and I wouldn’t say Soutter was good it just helps when you’re 6’8 and everything is in the air. From behind the dugouts the Fleetwood players were just taking the mick and laughing at how much they were allowed to get away with.
    Just score first, those are the tactics for next week.

  10. Do you know what’s happened to Tom Clare, Jason? The lad maybe only 19 but he’s the only 6ft 5ins forward on the books. Surely he would change the dynamic on the pitch when needed. He’s been here since May last year. Isn’t he ready for first team football yet? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  11. Interesting question John; one worth pursuing particularly in the light of recent failures in the transfer window. A 6′ 5″ lamp-post would probably have caused Soutter more problems yesterday.
    I find myself keep thinking about your excellent article from last week Jason, Is this the Squad to keep City in League 1? Well, on yesterday’s performance (whatever the tactics were or were supposed to be) I’m beginning to have serious doubts.

  12. Watched City avidly for approaching 50 years but i would not pretend that i could pick apart a pro’s tactics on a public forum

    • We were told that funds would be provided in the transfer window if we were in a position to avoid the drop, and apart from Payne ‘s wages, what have we brought in ? Players unable to get games with the clubs they came from, and most returning from long term injuries .
      Forget tactics, you can’t win matches with small players. I warned in my blog after the Southend defeat, that if they brought Clarke back, it was game over. It would be interesting to know if Hopkin has seen any of these players perform, or have agents foisted these players on him ? As I said before, these players could have been brought in by Edin. Say no more!!!

  13. So they were right then? Footbaĺl is about opinions. Take that away and see how many are left to watch an astbetically pleasing sport I.e. not Saturday 😉

    • Hi Danny.

      You wrote on an earlier comment “Any view on my above points?” I thought I had answered you so I’m a bit lost now. Can you explain what points you want my view on and I will do my best to answer. Cheers

      • Hi ta for the reply. I’m referring to our tactics during the game. You accounted for the pre game tactics. 1 our keeper is instructed to go ling all game. 2. Perhaps our inability to come from behind and win is due to an inability to change tactic…’s in a longer post above. I realise I’ve posted s few times now, although it only takes a minute, and at least one contributor isn’t happy about that 🙂

      • Hi Danny

        When I spoke to David for 10 minutes he didn’t go into the specific detail of what Richard O’Donnell was expected to do, so it’s difficult to comment on whether it was or wasn’t deliberate.

        I think the way I try to look at football, when I’m writing about it, is not to just to have the view “what the hell is x trying to do?” but try and consider what the intent was, and then try to judge it on the basis of whether that was the right approach. In this instance, and the point has been made on Twitter, the fact Fleetwood’s front three were pressing City’s back four when O’Donnell had the ball is perhaps in their thinking. It’s risky to play it out to someone who has no space, and arguably all they can do is knock it long because of the pressure they would be under. I think it’s also worth adding that getting the ball high up the park quickly isn’t neccessarily a simple long ball game, but an attempt to plant a flag in base camp. Have the ball higher up the pitch, and then play football.

        I don’t think it worked, obviously, and for me there are different ways we can do this. I refer back to an article I wrote 11 years ago during McCall’s first spell as manager, where opposition teams were parking the bus and they were struggling to break them down. As I wrote about that day, a home hame against bottom club Luton, McCall had Rhys Evans roll the ball out to defenders, encouraging the back four to play it around. This prompted Luton to increasingly lose their shape by chasing after the ball, opening up gaps which City could exploit. I thought that was clever management, and it is something we saw a lot more of during McCall’s second spell.

        On point two, does Hopkin have the ability to turn around losing positions, the evidence right now is clearly damning so I won’t waste my breath defending him on that. But what I will say is that over 20 years watching Bradford City has taught me that in the middle of the game it can be very difficult, but not impossible, to change a gameplan. Clearly Hopkin must do better at this, but I definitely subscribe to the post match view others have aired that the stupidity on our part was conceding such a dismal goal, and thus allowing Fleetwood to play in a way that was incredibly difficult to counter. And I can’t think of a single Bradford City manager in my time following the club who has not at some stage lost a home game in this way.

  14. ta for the reply and your points are very valid….one thing you can say about Stuart is he was always willing to change tactics multiple times in a game without confusing the players. Your reading of the game is relvant, althoug i’d had that O’Donnell going long as been the tactic since Hopkin arrived and not just this game. I’m guessing the idea being to hit channels and play in their half. However as you state in the original article, this looks to have been found out and easy to nulify, especially by teams with height and physicality. We ned to be able to fid another way when its clearly not working….i’ll leave you alone now 🙂

  15. In response to a question from John, I’ve spoken to the club about Tom Clare.

    I’m told Clare has had injuries for most of this season, hence not played. He is now fit, but not in the frame.

  16. ‘It is disappointing to see Joey Barton – who likes to portray himself as a deep thinker of the game – resort to such cynical tactics.’ – Ridiculous comment, they’re an away side coming to a big crowd. Fully justified, if we did the same we’d be praising Hopkin for nicking a 1-0 away win.

    • Totally disagree. Fleetwood were a team packed full of very good players for this level. They are going for the play offs, yet they played some awful cynical football, time wasting from very early on. It’s not the defensive approach that I felt was disappointing, but the dark arts.

      As I wrote in the sentence that followed this quote you have pulled out, Barton is entitled to play how he likes and they clearly deserved to win, but it was disappointing to see a young manager play like a Steve Evans team.

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