Managing expectations

Image by John Dewhirst (copyright Bradford City)

By Jason McKeown

Around half an hour before Bradford City’s opening game of the season, against Cambridge United, a group of young fans marched down Burlington Street chanting “100 points, 100 points Gary Bowyer”. It was an illustration of the high expectation levels of many Bantams supporters going into this season. It was also a vocal demonstration of a growing movement amongst younger supporters to redirect the ambitions of the football club.

It has been bubbling under the surface over the past couple of seasons, becoming more evident during the dark final few months of Edin Rahic’s doomed reign, and continuing through Bradford City’s ongoing demise that followed the chairman’s removal. To many fans, Bradford City lacks vision and aspiration to truly fulfil its potential. And, the belief of these supporters is that a big part of perennial low expectations are the low standards demanded by the rest of the fanbase.

The crux of this movement is that, as a supporter base, we are too willing to accept mediocrity, and that too often the club’s failings are overlooked or forgiven because our expectations are so low. That clearly played out over the Rahic reign, where civil war erupted between supporters. Right to the end, some fans clung onto an unfounded belief that the former chairman was misunderstood and was, in fact, doing good things for the club. You might call it a naïve outlook; others would call it negligent.

Bradford City is hardly unique in having some supporters who will back the club no matter what. They go to matches to support the team. They believe in the players, the manager and the owners. When City lose they are upset, but defend the club from criticism expressed by other supporters. Such an outlook is needed for clubs to get through sticky patches – typically, it is this type of supporter you see on long-distance Tuesday night away trips or low key pre-season friendlies – but as the Rahic episode showed, blind loyalty can be incredibly dangerous.

Which leads us back to the 100 points chant and where we are so far this season. After five, largely underwhelming league performances – plus a dismal exit from the League Cup – there’s little evidence to suggest a 100-point season lies in store for the Bantams. But that was never the point from those who were chanting for it that day. It wasn’t a prediction: it was a demand. A call to be ambitious as a club. To want the best. For City to take on the mantle of being the biggest in the division by running away with the title.

After all, Bradford City was on the verge of Championship football only two years ago. The relegation, last season, was self-inflicted rather than the result of the club not able to compete at League One level. We should not be in League Two now. In fact, with a competent chairman running the club between the summer of 2016 and the end of 2018, the club should really have made it back into the second tier.

So the ambition to trample all over League Two, and get back to where the club is capable of thriving, is understandable. The problem, as ever, is that reality is now biting. City are stuttering rather than soaring. It is early days in the season, but the underwhelming feeling is growing. It leaves City on collision course for a supporter backlash, unless the team quickly clicks into gear.

And that’s where the difficulty of high expectations comes in. It’s all very well to demand 100 points, but if it becomes apparent that it simply isn’t going to happen, fall outs will quickly happen. Right now, the expectation of where City should be is a long way ahead of how they are actually performing, putting Gary Bowyer and the players under pressure even at this early stage. The demands are the club should beat every team they come up against in League Two. Those expectations either need to soften, or the team needs to start fulfilling them. If the gap between expectation and reality continues to be as wide as it looks now, the calls for Bowyer to be sacked will begin to grow.

It will be at that stage that the other areas of City’s fanbase will have an important role to play. Not everyone is demanding League Two domination, many are happy if City make the play offs. Others will even accept mid-table this year, arguing that Bowyer needs more time to truly get the squad where he wants it to be. Just how vocal fans at this end of the spectrum prove to be could go a long way to determining Bowyer’s fate, should the club continue its stuttering start.

Is it fair on Bowyer and the players that expectations are as high as they are? Probably not. The issue of still being stuck with so many under-performing players from last season, earning significant money, has limited Bowyer’s attempts to improve the squad. Of this group, arguably only Anthony O’Connor is proving reasonable value for money this season.

The continued failings of Hope Akpan sums up much of the team’s struggles so far. Basically put up for transfer in the summer, but no takers. So he’s still here, unable to have a positive impact on the team. Yet Akpan is said to be one of the club’s top three earners, so cannot and shouldn’t be a passenger. Even leaving him out on the sidelines for the rest of the season would still leave Bowyer with the financial pain of a sizeable part of the budget going on the player’s wages. You can already see next summer’s retained list will be short on numbers.

In purely practical terms, this is a season to get through for the club. Get those final, ill-fated Rahic signings off the wage bill next summer, so you can truly rebuild a team. That means just completing the campaign without any relegation concerns as a minimum, judging the bounce back to League One as a two-year target. But that is low ambition stuff, which would probably see Bowyer driven out and a lower take up of season tickets next year.

So ambition is important. And though the 100 points stuff is in my opinion taking things too far, there will have to be serious questions asked if Bradford City fail to improve on a tentative start. In my view, finishing in the top seven has to be the minimum target, and there is no reason why a push for an automatic promotion spot should be beyond this group of players.

The high ambition philosophy has made me question my own outlook and expectations for the club. Are we as fans too comfortable accepting mediocrity? Is it okay to ever consider losing to Forest Green Rovers as acceptable? Should we demand more from the owners and the people employed from the club in taking the club forward? Are we too soft as a fanbase? I feel like my own viewpoint has shifted, and when City are dreadful and some supporters make excuses for them being so poor, I groan. We definitely do need higher standards.

Yet I’m conflicted too, because experience of watching football over the years has habitually shown up the folly of short-term thinking, and the value in giving a manager time to build. Logically, Bowyer needs a couple of seasons, but I’m struggling to be impressed enough to award him that patience.

It feels like an age thing, and that we now have a younger set of supporters coming through with a voice that is different to older generations. I’ve supported City for 22 years now – and over most of that time the club has been languishing in the bottom two divisions. To be in League Two angers me because of what Rahic did, but it doesn’t feel out of keeping with the club’s history. Why should our current predicament be the limit of our ambitions? When did third and fourth tier football become our normal, rather than a huge underachievement for a club of our stature?

To say it’s an age thing sounds patronising, as there is no doubt the rise and rise of social media – giving everyone a platform – has made an even bigger impact. As a Bradford City community, we always argue about everything, but certain views that were perhaps in the past consigned to a few fans debating City in their local pub are now out there for everyone to read and respond to.

There’s less tolerance of other people’s views, and so debate gets shut down too easily. We’re all guilty of aggressively dismissing alternative opinion, rather than considering and respecting what others think. You see it in the backlash against the ‘Bantams Family’ – a phrase which has changed from a nice piece of James Mason marketing into an umbrella term for fans who are less ambitious and over-protective of the club’s weaknesses. Supporters are mocked for innocently posting selfies on Twitter about travelling to an away game. We’ve all become a bunch cynical tossers. It’s just all very fragmented, with fault on all sides.

Ultimately, I feel like as a football club we lack vision right now. As supporters, the wounds of the Rahic regime are still to fully heal and there is a disjointed feel about going to Valley Parade. I find myself pining for the days of Phil Parkinson, when the club had greater togetherness on and off the field, and a resilience to get through tough times. There was still lots of arguing, but also success, positivity, and a sense of direction. The journey was as much fun as the intended destination.

We got off lightly with Rahic, compared to what Bolton and Bury are going through right now. But I do think there has been psychological damage from watching a club you absolutely believed in turn into something you don’t recognise, as it was stripped of its values. And that means patience has become lower currency. I feel like less of a fan now, more a consumer. When City reached the cup final in 2013, I felt a part of that success and that the support we gave was just as important as the assists of Gary Jones. Now, I don’t feel as connected to the current team – that it is their job to inspire me, not the other way around. And that kind of outlook makes failure harder to tolerate.

This summer brought a togetherness on and off the field, with supporters collectively feeling good about the prospects of the club, the look of the new signings and the inspiring words of Gary Bowyer. It hasn’t fully gone away, but the bright mood has been dampened by the early realities of League Two football.

What made us feel so good over the summer? It was having ambition. Believing we were going places. That we were on the brink of exciting times. That the chapter had been closed on a truly dark period for the club, and that we could look forward to nine months of winning lots of football matches. The ambition was too high in some quarters, but it felt good to wonder if it might prove to be right.

For what it’s worth, I think we need to find a middle ground on expectations. Demanding City walk the league only sets us up for disappointment when it doesn’t happen, and leads us down a path of making another managerial change that brings more turmoil to Valley Parade. Yet equally, we can’t just sit back and be happy with a muddling mid-table season, and for the club to drift aimlessly along as it did before Parkinson shook it up.

I think there’s a big debate to have about what we are fans now expect from this season, and what we expect of our football club. And as the final traces of the Rahic tenure are eventually flushed away next summer, there’s also a big debate for us all to have about the long-term ambitions of Bradford City Football Club.



Categories: Opinion

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33 replies

  1. As further reading, former City chairman Mark Lawn’s comments in the T&A today are very interesting: https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/sport/17866644.former-bantams-owner-clubs-can-39-t-just-risk-everything/

    • Cheers Jason. The problem with Lawn’s position on this is that he has first hand experience that it’s all but impossible to know how a new owner will turn out.

      Unlike most chairman, Lawn is a passionate City fan and still attends games. He was not motivated by sale price alone, but rather by a genuine desire to ensure that the club was handed on to people who shared a desire to act as custodians.

      The prospective owners had to ‘get’ Bradford City, it’s history, what it means to the city. Otherwise Lawn wasn’t prepared to sell. I truly believe he cared deeply about who took over.

      And yet – even with that noble motivation firmly in mind, and all proper due diligence carried out – we still ended up with the destruction wrought by Rahic.

      So what can be done to protect our football clubs? Forget money from the Premier League for two reasons:

      1) a form of financial security like a bridging loan would only encourage reckless owners to be more reckless, knowing they could call on a safety net; and

      2) the Premier League would likely want something in return, e.g. the formation of “Bury City” as a “Manchester City B” side like happens so often in Europe, eradicating history and meaning in the process.

      This has to be led by regulation and governance from a radically overhauled EFL. Use the Bury and Bolton cases (and watch this space for Reading and others in the coming months), as a catalyst for:

      1) getting fans groups onto the EFL Board,

      2) getting formal rule changes to replace the “fit and proper persons test” (which most EFL Board Members would surely fail?), and

      3) giving the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) oversight on the EFL financial arrangements (if we have to accept the role of consumers via the financialization of football-as-business, then surely we deserve the same form of consumer protections in place for other businesses?).

      Of course, unlike businesses, football club’s are entrenched in the fabric of civic life in their communities. Every sale of the club to a new owner is precisely a gamble because, even with the best of intentions, there are crooks and charlatans everywhere prepared to see football clubs as nothing other than businesses and/or vehicles for ego enhancement.

      If the future of our football clubs is left solely to those who sell them, with no meaningful regulatory oversight, then even with the most honourable of intentions we are gambling that future with each change of ownership and are left only with ‘hope’ that our club might continue to exist.

  2. On the money as usual. My anger during and after the FGR debacle was primarily against Bowyer’s negative formation which totally compromised our prime assets Vaughn and Donaldson. This coupled with ridiculous officiating facilitated FGR’s anti-football tactics and caused frustration all round. My 65 mile drive home not helped by Radio Leeds punditry claiming it was a good performance on the back of a great performance at Stevenage. A few days later I questioned my ‘expectations’ with Stevenage as a benchmark. Yes it was a gutsy backs to the wall performance. BUT we rode our luck against a scoreless team and the post match response of Bowyer maybe should be the guide of what he considers the current teams ‘level’. Maybe our calls for 442 at home is naive and to be fair he has tightened up the defence. But the calls for a midfield enforcer seem to be universal. Both of the Doyle financed loan midfielders seem to be in the largely disappointing Palmer mould rather than a Gary Jones type. An ‘interesting’ mid table season up to Christmas beckons.

  3. I think ambition from fans is good …. but club needs sensible actions in the boardroom.
    I never expected 100pts this season but I do expect play-off position at the very least… 8 pts from the games so far isn’t one disaster … I’m just not happy with our style of play.

  4. Expectations and ambitions of the football club come second to expectations of the team, yet they are integral to each other.
    The clubs ambition will only come into question when the team are not performing/winning.
    Everyone can get behind winning, but everyone has a different approach to losing.
    We have high expectations of the team, to work hard, to tackle hard, to give as much as they can every game. When they fail to do this, as they have in recent years it is demoralising, and that highlights our lowly league position, the poor quality of our surroundings and makes us question their ability to deliver the clubs ambition (and why the hell we bother turning up if the team can’t be arsed).
    This summer the club did a great job of giving us all a winning feeling without even kicking a ball, and so it seems the club has the correct ambition of progress and moving up the leagues. Failure by the team to achieve this shouldn’t make us question the ambition of the club (unless it is repeated often), but the quality/commitment/desire of the team.

  5. Football clubs are businesses however much some fans and owners would like them to exist in some parallel universe where you can just spend what you want with no consequences. We have been in Admin three times (has any club had that number?) and the current plight at Bury and Bolton is a reminder of what happens if you run unsustainably . If Andy Holt is to be believed eight other League One clubs are near to or in an insolvent position. The Championship Clubs have collectively ONE BILLION pounds worth of debt. Is that what we aspire to? It is only a matter of time before a “Big” Championship Club goes tits up.
    We are extremely lucky that a combination of Rupps generosity and the Mcburnie sale has got us out of a big financial black hole otherwise we would have all been putting our hands in our pockets and shaking buckets at VP again. Next time we may go the way of Bury.
    There is nothing wrong with the business model developed by Rhodes and Lawn. It provided affordable footy for the young lads who you refer to and who provide the atmosphere at the game and it put a decent team on the pitch. We succeeded on merit not by throwing money at it as Bury did. PP galvanised the whole club and we need to find that solidarity and unity of purpose again. I am prepared to put my trust in the current coaching staff to facilitate that.
    Did folk really expect us to walk away with the division? It took us FIVE attempts last time. There was the same chat on social media in 2008 when we were going for a one off tour of League 2 grounds (they even produced a t shirt). It is a competitive division with a number of well run smaller clubs who can punch above there weight. You only have to look at Accrington to see how far excellent management can take clubs with the tiniest of budgets.
    After the train wreck of the Rahic experiment progress is going to take time. I am perplexed by the level of gloom given the start we have had. Sorting out the defence was always going to be the priority. You only have to look at Scunthorpe a team bankrolled by Peter Swan to see where we could be. Walsall have had a poor start. We have lost once ffs! You would have thought with the recruitment made (which looks on paper to be decent) and with the rub of the green we should be top seven at least. If not sobeit there is always another season to look forward to

  6. Things have changed.
    Like you Jason, i felt ‘part of it’ in 2013 and now i dont.
    Admittedly moving 90 miles North of Bradford has had its effect but so far i have seen the Liverpool and Oldham games.
    I no longer look forward to going to games. Attending is more to see family and friends.
    Why is it like this after 50 plus seasons?
    Well like many last seasons relehation was self inflicted and when we finally climbed out of League Two in 2013 i thought we were heading upwards, and eould never see L2 again
    If this was just the way i.personally felt that would simply be my own choice, or problem but i know of many who feel the same way.
    Jason alludes to.how he feels in the text above.
    The fact that there was no City Gent published on the first day indicates that even the Mike Harrisons of this world are lacking enthusiasm.
    Although some fans say the Edin.days are over, the damage he did is still with us.
    Our league status, several thousand season ticket holders, and a feeling of belonging to the club were lost in those tragic months.
    Inexperienced fans perhaps dealing with their first relegation are right to think that we will quickly return to L1 and upwards. Older fans know its not that simple.
    I believe that the whole long term.future of lower league football.is at risk..Bury, snd Bolton have shown what can happen, and we were in that category too..Maybe we still are.

  7. It is sensible to curve ambitions to some extent as for any club there is never a guaranteed promotion. Quite simply you still have to graft and get the points on the board.
    Enthusiasm is certainly curved when you see Bowyer using particular players who consistently underwhelm eg Akpan, Anderson at the expense of creative purposeful players eg Scannell.

    I don’t expect us to roll over teams automatically but feel disappointed when seeing us squeak a win against Stevenage by courtesy of an own goal and struggle to make many meaningful chances against Cambridge and Forest Green Rovers.

    We just want that feeling that we have really had some intensity and decent chances in most matches. Probability is that occasionally we can be mugged but it is fine to be unluckily beaten if we read the stats and see that we peppered the opposition with crosses and shots but just didn’t get the rub of the green on the day.

    At the moment there is something rather lifeless about the team display and just not enough drive to create the ammunition for Vaughn and Donaldson to make a proper impact.

    You just feel with more self belief these players really should be knocking on the promotion door but that belief starts with putting out a credible starting eleven every week.

  8. Whilst I agree with the majority of what you say I do feel that the club, from a managerial position, must take some responsibility here. In this regard I’m talking of tactics.

    Last season, nightmare that it was, did however have one high point insofar as David Hopkin managed to galvanise the team for a while and they put in a number of good performances resulting in a free flowing and free scoring period which gave fans a reason to believe that there was hope even with the low quality personnel available. For some quite unfathomable reason he then changed the successful system he had found, lost games and the momentum disappeared, ultimately resulting in his leaving the club and relegation.

    This season, to be fair to the Board they have tried to make the best of a bad hand whilst also investing in new personnel and the manager seems to have tightened up the defence whilst adding a goal threat. Question – why then, if you have a goal threat do you not play to it’s strengths? Here again we have a Manager who, seeing that a particular system bring rewards ( 442 ) then changes this to a negative
    ( 443/451 ) system AT HOME which does not bring out the best in the players we have and frustrates fans. Not all fans are simple and need patronising…BBC!. Just because the majority of us haven’t played at a professional level doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the game and can’t see when a system doesn’t work.

    I feel that as a fan of some 40 years I have a right to question the philosophy of the manager as the success of a club on the field has a bearing on it’s position off the field ie attractive, attacking football can achieve results thus bringing in more fans thus increasing income to the club and local community. Also, if fans see the players working with a system that brings out the best in them and will achieve results in the longer term then they’ll be happy and more readily accept the teams shortcomings until they gel .

    Just look at the feelgood factor Stuart McCall achieved even though he was working in extremely challenging conditions. The football was of a good, attacking quality generally and the effect was to galvanise the squad
    ( until Rahic intervened over the Christmas period and destroyed the atmosphere ) which left fans excited at the prospect of what might be. We need the Manager to instil that spirit again but to do this he must ditch a system that suits no-one…other than the opposition!

  9. I’ve found my attitude changing over recent years. After originally being critical of those who mocked the bantamsfamily thing, I now understand what they were getting at. Following City has become tame, a family day out. The lack of ambition of some fans seems to be wrapped up in all this, the cheap season tickets, the fact we seem to have a very large number of elderly fans- the tartan blanket brigade! Lots of kids at games (a good thing overall, before anyone says anything). But just happy to have a club to support. All nice and pleasant, very upper working/lower middle class, a nice day out for the family. The younger generation of fans see other clubs on telly, with a loud and raucous away following, standing for the whole game, and understandably wish City were like that. In the past few years I’ve gone from getting annoyed at them, to seeing their point of view. The tameness of a large part of our support is analogous to the perceived lack of ambition of the club and its fans.

    Also ambition doesn’t have to mean recklessness, just professionalism, and nous. We are, and have been for many years, a tinpot club which blunders from one crisis to another, occasionally lucking out and having a modicum of success. We should, by any measure, be a Championship club these days. Forget that we were lower division for 48 years until 1985, the 80s and 90s should have been a watershed era for the club, yet here we are again, with an invisible owner, an invisible chairman, no chief exec, no leadership basically. Accepting mediocrity will guarantee mediocrity. Running a football club isn’t a binary thing where its either safe as houses or going to go bust. It’s all too easy for our Werthers sucking ultras to say “ooh but look at Bury, be careful what you wish for”. Well I wish for a well run club that fulfils its obvious potential.

    • The current 1-4 rating on this comment emphasises my point. Just happy to have a club to support…..

      • Try saying that to the Bury fans at the moment. Bet they are really chuffed that they got promoted but gambled too much and now are no longer an EFL club. There has to be balance. Mark Lawn’s comments in T&A are a good read.

      • Ian, try reading my comment properly. Where did I say we should do what Bury did? You’ve responded exactly as I described people would. I wish for a well run club which fulfills its obvious potential, what do you wish for?

      • Leon, please tell me what City’s “obvious potential” is???

      • Phil- size of city, size of ground, number of season ticket holders, potential floating fans who come when we’re doing better.

        When Preston, Norwich, Hull, Stoke, Boro, Barnsley, Reading spend most of their time in the Championship or above, how can you tell me we’re not underachieving?

      • What did you think about the ‘ambitious’ Rahic era Leon? And what did we learn from his philosophy of how a ‘well run club’ operates? Should Rahic have been even more ambitious and spent more money?

        Were you around during the ‘ambitious’ days of Geoffrey Richmond? If so, at the end of his Chairmanship did you find yourself throwing money into collection buckets feeling that you were hoping against hope that the Club would survive and saying that you would be ‘happy at just having a club to support’? Experiencial learning can be very useful in helping to recognising and reflect on real-life consequences of getting things wrong. Ambition has to be assessed against hazards x risks.

        I am assuming you felt the Club was ‘well run’ under the Chairmenship of Rhodes/Lawn. If so, was it a lack of ambition or money that prevented them from waltzing us into the championship in double quick time? What were they doing wrong? Were they too risk averse?

        Where is your evidence to show that most(?) of the 14000+ ticket holders -this season- are happier watching City play football in league 2 rather than league 1 or the championship? There was no lack of ambition from the fans during the league 1 play-offs from City fans that I was aware of, or even during the following season when McCall was sacked for a run of results that Rahic felt was affecting another promotion challenge.

        Maybe I could agree that there has been a lack of ambition from businessmen/women/consortiums to take over BCAFC over the years, yes. But maybe that is because they judged the high risk of making a big financial loss in running a football club not to be worth earning the title of ‘ambitious owners’.

        It would have been almost perfect if Mr Rupp had have been advised to invest his money into Bradford City under the ownership of Rhodes and Lawn -leave them to get on with it-and then just collect on his investment at agreed profit or income levels. We fans could have then spent our time complaining that the three of them didn’t have the ambition/money/ability to turn our struggling championship team into a premiership team and that they should sell to somebody who did meet the requirements needed to so do.

        Wurthers anybody?

    • From this it could be implied that you are wanting euthanasia for elderly fans. You day you will be elderly and hopefully you will have a club to support or indeed want to do so.

      • [TYPO] *One day you will be elderly and hopefully you will have a club to support or indeed want to do so.

      • Yes Damian, thats exactly what I meant. Really? Read that in context of my full comment. We’re a shambles of a club that underachieves massively, and that is linked to the demographic of the fanbase and acceptance of mediocrity. How does that imply euthanasia? Next you’ll be telling me I’m disrespecting “the 56”.

      • Our mediocrity is linked to the demographic profile of the fans? Get real, if you go back ten years there was a massive question where the next generation of fans was coming from. I think you’d find a block full of angry, ranting Leons would be a massive discouragement to new supporters, the people we need to build crowds and get behind an ambitious, successful club.

      • Im not angry, or ranting Damian, im merely expressing my opinion.

      • And we dont have an ambitious or successful club, thats exactly the point of the article.

    • BCfC is all about family (as are most clubs). Three generations of my own sit together in k block and all contribute to the atmosphere and without a Werther or tartan blanket in sight. Family is the life blood of the club and the guarantee of future generations of supporters. I would not be so swift to knock it

    • So what’s your solution Leon? How would you change the demographic of the supporter base?

      How would you discourage the elderly, the families, and the kids from attending and how would you go about getting the ‘go getting types’ who will demand success and propel the club forward?

  10. Before a ball was kicked this season, my expectations were for a mid-table finish this season. I certainly don’t expect us to be pushing for a top 7 finish this season. Indeed, after the performances I’ve seen this season, we may struggle to finish mid-table. The Forest Green Rovers performance was appalling. Plenty has been written on this site about Donaldson being played out of position and I don’t like singling out players, but having watched Akpan on numerous occasions now, I don’t think that he’s a good footballer in the third or fourth tier of English football.

    However, I am prepared to give Gary Bowyer plenty more time as it’s still too early in the season to be making rash decisions about where the team will finish this season.

  11. A very thought provoking article. I would consider myself to be a practical person with modest expectations (mid table finish) for this season. Having said that, I still hope for a top seven finish.
    Currently, the Club appears to be struggling due to tactics and the deadwood carryover from last season. Patience is a virtue and Bowyer should be given time to fine tune his tactics and finish housecleaning. End of September would be a good time for an initial assessment of the manager and players.

  12. There is nothing wrong with having ambition for your club to do well. If you have a team that perform to a poor standard and well below what is expected, supporters will react negatively. You are right to be underwhelmed with the performances so far. I for one believe we have a decent squad of players despite the deadwood from Rahic’s era. I too am very underwhelmed. Living abroad for a time, Saturday’s match was my first of the season. I was disappointed when the team and formation was announced. I thought why does the manager change to what can only be described as a defensive formation ( yielding just 2 out of 6 points in previous matches), from a 442 attacking setup that yielded 6 points from 2 matches. I can understand a defensive approach away from home but to play that formation at home was a grave misjudgement. I was proved right! After 60 minutes I had enough and thought that my blood pressure could not stand anymore of the lack luster performance that was on offer so I decided to go.
    I can applaud effort and yes I would be disappointed if that effort resulted in a negative result but I would at least have gone away thinking they have tried their best.

  13. As a supporter for 63 years, I have pretty much seen it all, and personally I was proud when we got into the Prem, but not happy, as I felt we could not possibly compete financially, and the result would be immediate relegation and a quick return to the lower leagues. Of course we did better than I expected, and it took a little longer to get back to Div.4. Many will not agree, but Div3 & 4 is where we are comfortable, & where we can compete.
    You may say it’s defeatist, but I think realistic is more accurate.

  14. I totally agree with your post but I doubt you will get many thumbs up.
    Championship membership would be nice but totally unviable for a community that is so economically challenged.

  15. A lack of ambition in the fans is nothing new. Geoffrey Richmond levelled it against the fans when he took over and promised us PL football. We scoffed and he said the club had more ambition than the fans.
    May be that lack of ambition is an age thing. When I first started supporting the club as a 13 year old in 1984 I dreamt of seeing in the top flight and winning the FA cup. But the reality was I’d put my footballing loyalties into a club who’d spent most of its existence in the bottom 2 divisions.
    But may be on an unconscious level we lack ambition because we choose to support a club with little or no history of success?
    After all, if all you want to see is your team winning then go support Man City or Liverpool or even L€#ds
    We’re Bradford City fans because we support our local team. We’re not glory hunters. We even take a perverse pride in our mediocrity.
    It’s early days in the season and I think GB is still tinkering with the team. Its clear from his comments about needing 3 transfer windows to build a squad in his own image that he has a lot of dead wood to get rid of.
    Until then we need, as Geoffrey Richmond was fond of saying ‘a reality check’. We’ve only lost one game, only conceded 2 goals and lost one game.
    And we’re not even out of August.
    GB has sorted out our defensive issues. Our goalkeeper is like a new player and in Vaughan we appear to both have a goal scorer and a leader. If last weeks new signings can make an impact in midfield then there is a lot to be optimistic about for the rest of the season.

  16. A significant number of us are no longer local. So it is not only a ‘support our local team’ driver. In my group only two of us were ‘local’ and we went away in out teens. In reality it is a family and friends link.
    There is a huge myth about all the supporters living within 6 miles of VP.
    I am not sure how it works with other clubs, but outside of the Premiership, then l anticipate we have a significant amount of support which lives outside of the obvious ‘local’ catchment area.
    For sure I want the club to do well, but not at ‘any price’.
    The lower leagues seem to be filled with clubs which ‘live outside their means’. Paying players in a month more money than some supporters earn in a year, is a model which leads to clubs being financially ‘overstretched’.
    I can be patient and would rather get it right, than rushed and ultimately compromised.

  17. It’s the usual impatience from fans. Very few relegated teams start the following season on fire – lots of those who end up promoted, start the season moderately (i.e. Norwich last season).

    It’s hilarious that WOAP, think it’s fine to legitimatise this impatient thinking by writing a sympathetic article. Has everyone forgotten that it took Jewell and Parky virtually a full season each to get the team and more importantly, the spirit they wanted

    The most important thing was that we showed some character and semblance of team spirit after the farce of last season. We’re doing that and only a fool could deny that

    Then, given the quality of the squad – everything else will follow, once everyone gets used to the mind-numbingly dull footie that most of our opponents will try and play

    We’ve the same number of points as the play-off positioned team and we’ve hardly started. Can we at least wait until December before tolerating this impatience

    • Well done for waiting a week and a half after the article was published, and for City to win, before making this point.

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