“You’re not fit to wear the shirt”

By Adam Raj

Well here we are again, another week, another defeat and ultimately another hammering. Blackpool were the latest side to steamroll over a pathetic set of “footballers” this afternoon in what was a training exercise for the Seasiders.

By this point in the season, the majority of fans (me included) had lost all hope that City would be able to avoid relegation this season, however there was always that small feeling that a couple of wins, starting today, may just be the beginning of a miracle. But back down to earth, and that was never going to happen was it?

The team which Gary Bowyer picked was somewhat stronger than last week’s side that offered nothing at Oxford – Jack Payne and Lewis O’Brien gaining recalls, Jacob Butterfield somehow dropped to the bench and Jermaine Anderson miraculously keeping his place. But the changes made no difference, and looking at the squad there isn’t anyone who probably would.

Blackpool, who didn’t get out of first gear all afternoon, bullied the Bantams from start to finish. It was men v boys for the vast majority, with Blackpool far stronger, faster and hungrier in every area of the pitch. Whilst not the best footballing performance you’ll ever see, Blackpool battled hard and won every 50/50 challenge and second ball, which is all that needs to be done to beat this spineless and pathetic side.

City barely touched the ball in the first 15 minutes of the game, again pushed off the ball at every opportunity and were unable and seemingly unwilling to win it back. It was a surprise that it took so long for Blackpool to score the opening goal – Armand Gnanduillet with a free header in the box six yards out, after good work from Anthony Evans on the left. A goal totally unsurprising given our lack of ability at stopping crosses and the utterly dreadful performances week in week out by Anthony O’Connor and Nathaniel Knight-Percival – more on him later.

But that was that, 28 minutes into yet another “must win” game and its game over. This side does not have any fight or spirit to get back into a game when conceding first, as the stats show. No leaders in the squad is also a factor as to why we capitulate whenever the score reads 0-1. Recent captains such as Gary Jones and Stephen Darby had the character and ability to drag the team off the floor and produce comebacks and fighting performances which all Bradford City sides should be capable of. This lot hang their heads, stay quiet, bottle out of more challenges, misplace more passes and ultimately look like they couldn’t care less.

Half time arrived and the players were rightfully booed off. Another embarrassing performance from a side destined for the drop.

Jack Payne was replaced by Jacob Butterfield at the break, prolonging the fans’ agony at having to watch a headless chicken in Jermaine Anderson do absolutely nothing. It was a fractionally better start to the second half with Butterfield dragging a shot just wide in the opening stages, however it could hardly get any worse than the first half, oh so I thought anyway. 50 minutes on the clock and City, as usual, dilly dallying with the ball on the edge of the box, instead of playing the pass or taking a shot, lost the ball to midfielder Matty Virtue, who ran 40 yards unchallenged before hitting a great strike into the bottom corner.

The first set of fans started to leave and the first chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” commenced. As usual, the midfield was non existent and no one wanted to take the lad out and take a booking for the team. It’s precisely this sort of half-hearted, lethargic attitude why we are in this position.

Six minutes later and City were handed a lifeline. David Ball was adjudged to have been fouled by Congo international keeper Christoffer Mafoumbi, after he had made an excellent save from Lewis O’Brien. Eoin Doyle, who had scored his previous four penalties for City, saw his effort saved by the Blackpool keeper. I’d be lying if I said I thought he would score it. This was a moment typical of Bradford City this season – handed to us on a plate and we still mess it up.

From then on, the game was dead, Blackpool were comfortable and – knowing the game was won – sat off us and allowed us to pass the ball along the back line. They knew that we couldn’t and wouldn’t hurt them.

The third goal of the afternoon arrived on 68 minutes through the impressive Gnanduillet once again. Adam Chicksen’s lack of any sort of positional sense gave right back Michael Nottingham the freedom of Bradford to whip a cross into the box and once again, the big Blackpool striker had a free header from close range. More people left and the boos got louder.

There was still time for a fourth and for those who left, they missed the most comical out of them all. If there was a goal which summed up City this year it would be this one. No positional discipline or awareness left a big gaping hole in midfield, but the goal could still have been prevented.

First Nathan Delfouneso ran past the gutless Adam Chicksen, who tried his best to foul the Blackpool attacker. But as is symptomatic of his defensive ability, he failed even at that. Then the truly pathetic Nathaniel Knight-Percival showed Delfouneso inside, before a truly embarrassing attempt at pushing him over failed, allowing him to set up substitute Chris Taylor, who placed the ball in the top corner. I’ve seen more effort and ability in Sunday league at junior level.

Time and time again Caddis was free out wide, screaming, along with most of the crowd, for a diagonal pass to be played to him. Knight-Percival though never lifts his head up and either plays a hospital pass to his partner in crime, Chicksen, or plays the ball aimlessly out of play. Is it any wonder the vast majority of our goals have come down that left-hand side with this pair in there? This season can’t end fast enough but, as each game passes, it’s a game closer to these two never wearing the City shirt ever again.

A consolation did arrive in the 91st minute thanks to David Ball heading in from close range after a Paul Caddis cross. Those two, are two of the very, very few who can say they give it everything every week. If only we had recruited more players with their mentality and ability.

There was also still time for one last comedic moment supplied by Josh Wright. Yes, you heard that right, the midfielder who hasn’t been seen since mid-November following a Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Barnsley, has somehow managed to work his way back into the reckoning. He came on and as usual, the League One Jordan Henderson, or Mr sideways as I like to call him, did nothing.

Anyway, back to the original moment – Wright, still trying to justify his early season joke selection as club captain, waved his arms, ordering the team forward for a free kick, which he hesitated to take multiple times before his eventual “effort” didn’t even make it into the box before it was cleared – the groans and sighs were there for all to see and hear. Appalling.

After the unwanted three additional minutes, the referee blew for full time, by which point the ground was virtually empty. But those who stayed rightfully booed and vented their frustrations at the players following a truly disgusting performance. What Valley Parade looked like at full time is what it will look and sound like in League Two next season, if we’re lucky, and that’s the most depressing thing.

All the hard work and success we achieved in the last seven to eight years is over – and this club is a shadow of what it was.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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28 replies

  1. Well written and agree with everything!

  2. The ‘new’ history makers could.be the term which will be given to this group of players. They are the.oppodite to the class of 2013 and have gained their own.place in.the history of the club

    They have no fight, no heart, no guile nothing
    Gary Jones, Stephen Darby and the rest were footballers

    These players are that.in.name only

  3. Lets just play the kids now. Get Parky back in the summer and pretend it’s 2012 all over again.

  4. Best laugh of the afternoon in 2nd half when time after time all of us in Midland Rd station stood up and waved along with Caddis to attract attention when he was is a good wide position unmarked only for the pass that never came !!

  5. It is difficult to put into words how bad city were today. But I think you manage to do it well. I am ashamed to be a city supporter. At least in the Barry Conlon days bad players tried hard. Today decent players did not try and they let down themselves, their team mates, their club, the supporters.
    It was clear after 10 minutes that some players did not care.
    But the team has too many players coming to the end of loans and looking to next season, too many on long term contracts and coasting, too many on short term contracts and too many simply not good enough.
    Bad management, no leadership, a very bleak future.

  6. Absolutely spot on

  7. The previous owners the custodians of our great club said they would only sell to people who would have the financial backing to move us on to the next level and show due diligence on anyone who would want buy the club ,I wonder what is going through there minds on what as happened to all the good work they did over several years and what may happen over the next few months,with the club on the way to league two and playing with no pride ,season ticket sales are key to how we will preform next season and it’s not looking good especially after today’s fiasco , we need the club to show leadership and let us know what the plan is who the manager is for next season who will run the club on a daily basis ,who’s is going take us forward the ownership?( Who )if not season ticket sales will suffer.

  8. Mark Lawn did not want to sell to Rupp and Rahic but waa outvoted by JR and his Dad. Imagine how he feels as he is a fan and goes to games. JR has come back to help sort it so i guess he is also hurting.

  9. Hello??
    Why is no one mentioning how lazy and useless akpan is???

  10. Brilliant. Absolutely spot on.

  11. Will Rupp invest more of his money into a club he’s not bothered about? Will Bowyer stay?
    What money will the next manager hav?
    Too many imponderables at the moment but until we have these answers, we’re in serious trouble.

  12. Absolutely awful all afternoon. They do not deserve anymore f a comment than that!

  13. Expect us to go straight through League 2 and out into the Confetence – we have the millstone of overpaid wages and overly long contracts for woeful players. It’s going to get worse before it gets better – I don’t see any lights at the end of the tunnel only an oncoming train

    • Hi Jason.

      I’d just like to pick up on NZ’s point here. Do we have a list of players who are actually still contracted next season – there are so many who are on loans and short-term deals that it’s difficult to keep track?

      I think it’s 90% certain we will go down (I actually think 100% but strictly there is still a chance), so looking ahead to next season, I actually believe that the majority of players are decent players and with a few signings of the ‘right character’ and a good manager (Bowyer – maybe, he certainly cannot be judged on the mess he inherited), we ‘should’ be in a position to bounce back (difficult as that will be).

      • Just look at the player list on WOAP, you will see which DONKEYS we will still have to put up with.
        Conference here we come

  14. Maybe they are fit to wear Edin’s ”fighting shirt’ that so symptomatic of all that is wrong at the moment. The sooner that’s ditched along with the players he signed then the sooner we get our City back. Unfortunately all too late for this season.

  15. Well written again Adam, you said it all and managed to remain measured.What next? The curse of Rahic goes on, we have many of these slackers on contract to the end of next season thanks to Rahic’s profligacy with Rupp’s cash. These players will take us into the conference unless we bite the bullet. Such is our exposure, it’s all down to Rupp to sort and fund. He will be looking for a way out of this, faster than Josh Wright’s car goes South. His investment is gone any value in the club has gone. My view is that Rupp will also be gone. What next?

  16. Anderson a “headless chicken”? Really? i thought he had a half decent first half before the general second half collapse. Carried the ball well and started to show a decent range of passing. “Partners in crime”? Is this language which befits a website with journalistic aspirations? It ill behoves WOAP to join in with the Pitchfork and Torches criticism of Wright. Plenty of others were culpable in the early season debacle. Is booing one of our own players before he has kicked a ball part of who were are? It was a sorry and torrid performance but the malaise runs far deeper than individual failures of players who most of whom we know are capable of much more. There has been a monumental failure of leadership caning individuals in such pejorative term assists no one.

    • Certain players get whacked with the abuse stick every week while others seem absolved of any blame. As you alluded to this group of individuals never really stood a chance, if the organisation is rotten to the core at the top it ain’t gonna right itself at the bottom.
      There were so many things done the wrong way under Rahic i’m surprised we weren’t cut adrift months ago, some of our fan base would still refuse to observe the blindingly obvious even when we go down but in truth relegation has been staring us in the face the moment the egotistical German walked through the Valley Parade doors. No one individual player or change of manager was ever going to stop that.

  17. How come Jack Payne is escaping the criticism? He had a point to prove but was useless. Clearly decided he’s had enough and wants to be back at Huddersfield. Rightly given the shepherd’s crook at half time after easily his worst display in our shirt. Butterfield did better and should keep his place.

  18. Didn’t bother going yesterday. Expected a gutless performance and reading your report Adam, it lived up to my expectation. By the way Adam you’ve written some great articles recently. I like that you don’t hold back and say it like it is.

    When we were relegated in 06-07 I was some want cheered up with the thought of us smashing league 2 and bouncing straight back. Even winning 2-3 games in a row, compared to what we endured in 5 seasons prior.
    This time relegation is going to be bleaker than bleak. We’ve gone back a decade plus as a club.

  19. Very depressing times seems all the hard work over the last 7 years as been erased by one man and we all know who that is.

    When supporters are told to stick by your club through the good and the bad I say to myself not many supporters of clubs have been through what we all have supporting Bradford.

    I fear we will be in lge2 for many more years to come … but is this really our level and as supporters do we expect way to much in terms of championship football ?.

    I think we are on a very dangerous slide here and if the club isn’t careful another relegation would just about put the final nail in the coffin.

    I’m not sure where this 2million will come from as we are over budget this season and as business man Rupp may decide to give the next manager a very low wage budget next season. To recoup some of that money back.

    Season tkt sales will be the lowest bought for some time and that will have an impact no doubt.

    Will Julian Rhodes still be involved next season? Will Rupp want to sell the club to anyone just to cut his losses in football ?.

    6000 gates I can remember and although this may not be true figure for next season I just want those that are not going to renew season tkts the effect this will have on the club .

  20. In another ‘must win’ game the players should have played as if their lives depended on it – but the sad fact is they didn’t and, even sadder, that they didn’t came as no surprise. For me Caddis was the only one worth his salt plus possibly the two loanees O’Brien and Ball.

    And what about he manager? We’re certainly no better, and possibly worse, than under Hopkin but that’s maybe understandable when you look at some of the decisions he’s made including dropping Caddis in favour of Mellor, making Akpan captain and insisting on playing Anderson every game.

    Like so many others on here I really do fear for the future of our beloved club.

  21. Breaking News.
    Bring him back to valley parade

  22. McCall out at Scunny. Looks like Bowyer is a dead man walking and so the managerial exodus will go on and the legend will be back in place to get us out of div two. How boring it’s all becoming.

  23. Once Stuart gets into a bad run he doesn’t seem to be able to turn things around. He wouldn’t be doing himself, or the club, any favours by coming back.

    I didn’t agree, at the time, with his sacking at City but, looking back, the players had stopped playing for him and he was floundering. In his defence, he did have Rahic to contend with.

    He had the full support of the Board at Scunthorpe, with early signings in the January window. However, he seems to have lost it again and couldn’t reverse things. A familiar story in his career.

    Apart from a gimmick to boost season ticket sales, I can see no sound football reason to re-appoint him.

  24. Most of it has already been said really, but this team is mentally weak, as instead of using the sense of injustice at Oxford as a motivating factor, their response to it is to just simply give up on the season. Any sense of adversity and they just crumble like a pathetic wreck.

    The irony is that if we had’ve got the 3 points, in what would’ve been a winnable game if we had put the effort in, with the other results going for us, we’d have given ourselves a chance of survival. This lot really are an embarrassment to the shirt.

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