Que sera sera…

…whatever will be will be, we’re going to Forest Green”

By Adam Raj

The traditional song for a Wembley bound club rang round Fratton Park this afternoon, after the hosts booked their place in the final of the Checkatrade trophy in midweek thanks to victory over Bury. For the 493 City fans, the afternoon was not remotely one to celebrate, but one more to realise the absolute mess we’re in. The realisation, by the day, that City will be plying their trade in League Two next season is growing and, to some, all we can do is laugh and accept it.

To the neutral, today’s defensive display from the Bantams was nothing short of comical, but is that really a surprise? Last week showed how City were so vulnerable and utterly clueless from wide areas, and today further exemplified this, with Portsmouth taking full advantage of City’s frailties.

There was nothing in the first half hour of the game, with City having decent build up play in the middle third of the pitch but producing nothing in the final third. Pompey favoured going long to the handful that was Oliver Hawkins, who City couldn’t deal with from the start. The writing was on the wall after just seven minutes when the Pompey number nine slammed a header against the foot of the post – a let off for City, but there wasn’t to be many more.

It took the home side just 23 minutes to go ahead. Public enemy number one Anthony O’Connor pulled a Pompey shirt in the area from a corner and the referee pointed to the spot. From the away end, it was hard to see if there was a foul or not, they are situations that could go either way that’s for sure. Anyway, former City man Gareth Evans stepped up and slammed the penalty into the top right corner. Unstoppable. Now the capitulation begins.

Since the start of January 2018, the Bantams have fallen behind in 36 League One games, only managing to stage a comeback in a pathetic five of those. In other words, City have accumulated only seven points from the 108 available in those games. It’s hardly a surprise to read these stats given the weak and fragile ‘characters’ that Edin Rahic accumulated.

This is not a team, it is a collection of individuals, without the right mentality and temperament to play for a club the size of Bradford City

As soon as City fell behind today, there was almost an air of acceptance in the away end that City would come away with nothing, and unsurprisingly, we were right. 18 minutes later and 1-0 became 2-0, courtesy of Tom Naylor’s tap in. By this point I think it’s pointless mentioning how the goal was scored, as it’s that predictable. For the record, it was a corner, just like the first goal. Two goals and two former City players on the score sheet.

City didn’t have an attempt of note for the remainder of the half and in all fairness we were fortunate to be only two down at the break. The second half saw Kelvin Mellor replace newly announced skipper Paul Caddis, who suffered an apparent dislocated shoulder. This is a big blow if it’s a long term injury – we’ve seen how bad we defend when he’s in the side, it doesn’t bear thinking about how many we’ll ship if he’s out of it. Pompey started the second half as they ended the first, quicker to second balls, and their wide men causing all sorts of problems.

A rogue drone then halted the play for a few minutes, when City fans pleaded with referee Oliver Langford to “call it off”. Unfortunately, the chants fell on deaf ears and play resumed. City then grew into it and were handed a lifeline in the 65th minute through Hope Akpan. The recalled midfielder managed to prod home Mellor’s header from Jack Payne’s corner.

A glimmer of hope maybe? Well that’s what the headline of this report probably would’ve been if City had managed to salvage anything from Hampshire. But of course that was way too unrealistic, and it took just two minutes for Pompey to restore their two goal advantage. The excellent Ronan Curtis played in full back Lee Brown, who had the freedom of Portsmouth to play in an excellent yet simple cross into the box for winger Jamal Lowe to chest into the back of the net.

3-1, game over and it was just a case of by how many City would lose by.

The fourth goal was a carbon copy of the third, this time midfielder Ben Close finished past Richard O’Donnell. And for those watching the “highlights” tonight, the fifth goal may look like an accidental rerun of the fourth but I can assure you it was indeed the fifth for Pompey. The same goal, with the same scorer, the cross from the same side and the same hopeless and amateurish defending.

I thought I had seen the worst of Knight-Percival and O’Connor in last week’s disasterclass, but today took the biscuit. They didn’t win a header between them against Hawkins and didn’t manage to block a cross or shot in the entire game. In contrast, Pompey, even when 5-1 to the good flung themselves in front of every cross, every shot and every pass that City attempted. Aside from the goal and one trickling shot from Jacob Butterfield, I don’t think we managed a clean shot on goal in the entire game. If only we had that sort of commitment from our so called defenders.

Performance and result wise, it was absolutely clueless, hopeless, spineless and a total disgrace from both the players and staff. Martin Drury, somehow still here after failures with both Michael Collins and David Hopkin, set the team up to supposedly attack Portsmouth, but we did nothing of the sort and had absolutely zero organisation at the back. Connor Wood, arguably our best player on the day was substituted meaning Lewis O’Brien had to play LB against probably the best winger in the division. A ridiculous tactic from someone who has clearly been reading the Michael Collins book of coaching too much.

A group of friendly Pompey fans at the station after the game commented on how poor they were today by their standards, yet they still gave us a hiding. What does that say for us?

Well, if one man currently epitomised Bradford City, it would be Anthony O’Connor. In a week where the talk has been dominated with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri being disrespected by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Bradford City have their very own soap opera it would seem. Allegations on social media arose over the week about a comment he was said to have made after last week’s defeat, which lead to him being stripped of the captaincy.

Today, he was given back the armband after Caddis’ departure, yet after giving away a needless corner, he took the armband off and flung into Richard O’Donnell’s net. As I write this, O’Connor has issued a statement claiming he did this because the armband was proving to be a physical discomfort for him and the other allegations were totally false.

Maybe this is true, but after the way he sulked around the pitch after Evans’ penalty and his history with Aberdeen fans, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he’s not telling the truth. Nevertheless, the sheer arrogance of a player with limited ability, who produces abysmal performances more often than not and a player part of a ‘team’ as pathetic as us, is astounding.

Going to Bradford City is now a chore, it no longer gives me pleasure and I’m sure a lot of others feel the same. Just how is the club going to sell season tickets for next season? The future of the club both on and off the pitch is up in the air, no one knows who will be leading the boardroom after Julian Rhodes’ temporary stint ends in the summer, and no one knows whether Owner Stefan Rupp really is in this for the long haul or is thinking of selling up in the summer.

A full and rocking Fratton Park today reminded me of what we had not so long ago. A packed stadium with players giving their all for the shirt, a manager who gets the best out of these players and the success to go with it. I cannot bear to see a half empty Valley Parade again next season in League Two, but that’s exactly what will happen with so many who are totally disillusioned with the club.

So where do we go from here? The next managerial appointment is huge, it can either be a Sam Allardyce type quick fix to try and keep us up, or it can be an appointment with next year and League Two in mind. Personally I’d go with the latter, get the best manager we can for League Two (easier said than done, I know), give him the rest of the season to keep us up, but if not, no worries as he’ll be the man to take us straight back up.

It’ll also allow him to take stock of a very poor squad of players to decide who will be part of his plans next year. We can’t afford to be going into the summer and not having a manager, we need to be totally prepared both on and off the pitch if we’re to give ourselves the best chance of an immediate return to League One.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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17 replies

  1. Just over 12 months ago I wrote an article about City’s win at Portsmouth. City hadn’t played brilliantly but they had a team who tried and battled.
    Now they have a team who simply don’t care. I care but what is the point in going to watch a team who are bound to lose, so I didn’t bother wasting my money.
    It hurts me that I didn’t go, it hurts me that we got absolutely stuffed and it hurts me that my club is such an utter shambles.
    I suspect it hurts a lot more people just the same. Only a small minority don’t care, sadly they’re on the pitch. We will be there next year, they will have moved on to their next pay cheque.

    What the hell is going on at this club?!!!

  2. I could cry after we’d come so far. How can it have happened to us after everything we’ve been through. I feel a victim which is a poor attitude but……. I don’t know what to say. Absolutely gutted. But then my mate who is a Port Vale fan says it could be worse. Thank god we are still Bradford city through and through. We’ve done it before. We’ll ll do it again.

    • It’s very difficult / almost impossible to see what we should be supporting in.
      An owner who isn’t really bothered.
      No Manager
      A team,half full of loanees who won’t be here next season
      The other half simply not fit to wear the shirt.
      I really do fear we will be the next Chesterfield or Orient

      They say you can’t polish a t**d, but you can roll it in glitter.
      Well our glitter jar is well and truly empty!

      • Totally agree. Sickening.

      • Sorry to say but I no longer am a supporter of BCFC.
        Not even a fan…
        Just a follower.
        Well done Edin, Stefan,Greg ,Michael, David,Martin,Reeves, Riley, Wright, could go on but can’t be arsed
        What a set of ………….
        Will,leave it to you to decide!

        We used to have a pride in OUR CLUB.
        Absolute JOKE now.

  3. Wow not a positive reflection of the game but totally agree with your assessment. What made Rhodes see in Drury to give him the caretaker role. He talked a good game just like his mate Collins but the outcome was the same. I suppose we were expected to lose but it was the nature of the defeat. We were clueless and defensively crap. The only hope I had was the players to put in a performance just to prove a point that they are good footballers and had to wash away their role in Hopkins departure. Drury should not be allowed to pick or coach the team after what’s happened today. We should ensure a quick appointment before the next game. I agree with you that the new manager should be a long term appointment. He should be allowed to get rid of the chaff and mould a team that can compete next season which ever league we are in.

    • Ohhh I’m sick to death now of this..

      So blindingly obvious to any team all season long.

      They won’t bruise our defenders or our attackers they are not brave enough and are a 1 trick pony. I cannot remember ever seeing a squad in my 30 years as a fan that had no striker capable of bruising a centre half and winning headers. The problem is I only have to repeat that and change the words striker and centre half around and the same issue remains at the other end of the pitch.

      Shambolic ownership, Gutless staff employed by them.

      Should never be forgotten that these players would kill for 2 or 3 bravehearts at either end of the pitch to play with. That’s all it would have taken in transfer window to remedy this shambles but no sign of it whatsoever. Teams don’t know they’ve been in a fight anymore when played us were piss weak wherever you look. At least Kai Had some balls about him but never bothered replacing him never mind Charlie Wyke. Where has all our heart gone? Sick as a pig.
      Rich Queeny

  4. Possibly the worst of rahics many mistakes was not to do character checks on his signings and to give them long term contracts.
    He has wrecked city and I now fear not only relegation but survival itself.
    It has long been obvious that certain players do not try and some are possibly malingering with injuries. The future is bleak if not worse.

  5. We need a statement from the owner that we are in together and he will be there to clean up his mess it going to cost him,god it has cost our club,if not let us know his intentions ,we need a vision a pathway ,a leader to galvanise the fans and the club somebody like Richmond bigger than life who could sell a dream and get the fans behind it ,his there one out there.

  6. Seems to me we have almost gone full circle. We struggled for our 1st few seasons last time in league 2, as sides wanted it more than us, and when Parkinson joined he talked of signing players, who had character and knew what it took to play for Bradford City Football Club.

    We seem to be going back to those dark days in league 2 in more ways than one, as the current players do not have these characteristics, with a number of them simply not being fit to wear the shirt.

    It just goes to show that it can take years to build a football club back up again, with all the hard work that Parkinson, Lawn and Rhodes did, but it can only take a few months and one man’s ego trip to seemingly put us back to square one again, which makes you extremely angry and frustrated.

  7. I think the main issue will not be who the next manager is but how does he move the majority of this team out of the club when they are mostly still under contract for next season? I suspect many will be happy to come to training, then go home not bothered if they play or not at the weekend but pick up their money for just training and run their contracts down.

    • True, Michael. These non-performing players need shifting at the end of the season and I’d estimate it could cost up to £1M to clear the decks and settle their contracts. That’s before we start recruiting a virtually new first team squad. Quite clearly, with a potentially disastrous season ticket campaign, that is not going to happen.

      I keep saying it, but there is only one likely conclusion.

  8. I think criticism of the players is going a bit too far. The fundamental problem is the balance of the team. Yes, the defence is weak – yesterday every time Pompey surged down the wings they looked likely to score – but with no attacking threat of our own, the defence was under attack far too often. We all know where the weaknesses are, so why did we go through the January transfer window without seriously addressing the lack of a striker, a left full back, a winger or two and someone to be what Josh Wright should have been? Yes, Portsmouth wanted it more but the players must see the problems as well and can hardly feel encouraged enough to put in the sort of die-hard performances we desperately need.

  9. I agree that the basic problem is the balance of the squad that’s wrong, eg only one winger but he’s injured and no target man. And as a team we don’t have enough fight and character . I was there yesterday . We did have a few moments and we were trying until it became 2 nil, but we just don’t play to the strengths of the better players. It’s pointless treating Doyle as a target man, or playing O’Brien half on the wing. The times we pressed in the second half we were very vulnerable to the counterattack – hence three goals conceded. Taking off the left back for a forward was not very clever

  10. Couldn’t stand the humiliation any longer, sorry but i had to walk out early

  11. A really good assessment of yesterday’s “performance” I use the word lightly. First 20 minutes we saw some glimpses of skill, but lacked the quality, imagination, creativity and confidence. Completely inept in the last quarter, no ideas, no target man, no willingness to have a go. Pompey always looked like they could go up another gear & we never really competed with them in any area of park. The whole situation is as shambolic as it is sad. Even if we got the Messiah himself (Jesus Christ), I think he would struggle to do anything positive with this group of players. We can’t simply keep being thrown from one temporary solution to another. We need to start planning for the future, however, I realise we may have a greater pool to chose from in the summer than we do at present.

  12. Wish I shared your confidence about ‘the best chance of an immediate return to League One’. I fear once we’re down it could be 5 years of misery – no players, no money and no direction from the top. The current crop of players have no confidence and are happy to hide during games or simply go on the ‘sick’. I still believe that the players are better than the performances they give on match days. Let’s hope the new manager can work miracles – he’ll have to!

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