Boring, boring Bradford City

Macclesfield Town 1

McCort (pen) 32

Bradford City 1

Vaughan 73

By Adam Raj

It’s never a good sign when you’re bored at a football match and thankfully I can say it hasn’t happened to myself very often. But today, as I sense with many other city fans, was a painful, drab and lifeless performance.

We had hoped for a response from last week’s poor display, but unfortunately it was a case of more of the same this afternoon in Cheshire, from a City side struggling badly for goals.

Jake Reeves started his first league game in two years as he came into the side for the apparently injured Callum Cooke. Chris Taylor made his debut in place of Hope Akpan and Zeli Ismail came in for Aramide Oteh. Crucially though, Gary Bowyer stuck with the same 4-3-3 shape that had been totally ineffective in recent games.

The game started slowly and scrappy with neither side offering anything going forward. City particularly had no intention of playing football – it was a boot it and lose it approach. James Vaughan was once again isolated, the wingers starved of the ball, full backs reluctant to go past halfway and the midfield was offering nothing going forward. Chris Taylor got stuck in, made a few good challenges and was the standout performer in the opening stages.

City had done absolutely nothing until Zeli Ismail robbed the ball just inside the Macclesfield area in the 22nd minute. He squared the ball to James Vaughan who couldn’t control and eventually put the effort wide. It was a sitter and he should’ve scored. And as it turned out, it was a costly miss.

Ten minutes later and the hosts had a penalty courtesy of a poor challenge by Ben Richards-Everton on Corey O’Keefe. Jak McCourt finished low into bottom left corner and City were left with it all to do.

Now I know they’re somewhat biased, but the official City Twitter account labelled us as having the “best of the first half chances” after going 0-1 down – that was an exaggeration from a dire performance which was starved of any chances. We created absolutely nothing before or after the goal. The one chance we had was handed to us on a plate, rather than thanks to any craft or invention from ourselves. Half time was a welcome event, surely we couldn’t be any worse in the second period could we?

Well, we tried our hardest, I must say. The second half started just as badly as the first ended. City had no control of the ball – it was all hit and hope to Vaughan. The off the ball movement was non existent and we looked utterly clueless with the ball at our feet. Like last week, we looked like a bunch of strangers who hadn’t played with each other before.

Macclesfield forced a few corners and nearly added to their lead. First Adam Henley cleared off the line and then skipper Fiacre Kelleher blazed a header over which he should’ve scored from. Meanwhile, down the other end, City failed to beat the first man from every hopeful cross into the box.

City supporters on the terrace behind Richard O’Donnell’s goal were growing restless, cheering Oteh’s name to try and force Gary Bowyer into a substitution. He obliged and Oteh replaced Zeli Ismail, with City reverting to a 4-4-2 formation. Immediately, Vaughan looked more comfortable with some support. Even though the ball was still being lumped at his head, there was at least someone willing to gamble in behind him.

Ten minutes later and City were level. Harry Pritchard played in a delightful free kick and there was Vaughan with a good flicked header to equalise. Sadly though, City failed to gain any momentum after equalising. The game slowed, City remained ponderous, the hosts had no intentions of attacking and the Bantams had no idea how to attack.

Sixteen minutes of normal time and five minutes of additional time came and went. City failed to have a genuine chance during that period. Not one of the hopeful efforts from 30 yards constitute a chance in my book, no matter how Bowyer wants to spin it. It was truly pathetic. The only incident even remotely interesting was a second yellow card for Macclesfield’s Connor Kirby for a late challenge on Connor Wood.

City failed to throw caution to the wind and have a genuine go at their opponents. The overly conservative Gary Bowyer cost us two points today with his negative and defensive approach. Bowyer says he had watched Macclesfield numerous times this season and knew what to expect. I’d suggest he didn’t. The style of play, formation, instructions were all wrong.

It was clear from the off that Macclesfield were extremely limited. Organised and disciplined, but limited. They had no real intentions of scoring and disappointingly, we still set out not to lose. Today was a perfect way to bounce back from last week. A good away following against a side any team with promotion aspirations should be beating and we simply flopped. A week where we could’ve put more pressure on our rivals, feels like another step back.

A supporter behind me commented that we aren’t the same team as we were six weeks ago. Actually, I think we are. Maybe slightly worse, but essentially, these poor performances have been here since the opening day. The luck has run out and teams have sussed out our only plan of attack and we have no answer to it. The results have, of course, masked over the performances and the boring football can be tolerated whilst the results are still positive. That has worn off now, and we’re now getting the results which match our performances.

We were no better or worse than a crisis hit Macclesfield Town side placed 14th in the league. In my opinion, after watching all games this season mid table would be a more accurate representation of our performances.

I suggested last week that Bowyer still had the shackles on this side and after today I stand by that. And unless they come off, we will continue to slide down the league table.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

Tags: , , ,

23 replies

  1. Agree. I was bored too watching it on iFollow and turned it off and went back to bed. Hopefully the last few results are not indicative of being ‘business as usual’ and that we have already peaked. Over to you Bowyer.

  2. I’ve never been impressed with our style of play under GB. you’ll get away with that if results are going our way.

  3. We had a manager not so long ago who played entertaining football and with the right backing almost got us into the Championship
    I reckon he could get this lot playing and he currently is out of work 🤗🤭

  4. It comes back to the sense of entitlement post earlier this week
    Some of the best Bradford sides in my 40 odd years of watching have played the ball on the floor with good pace on the wings and a strong guy in the middle, Mullhall , Dolan , Kamara , jewel and mcall all subscribed to this kind of football ( to name a few ) only parky managed to gain decent results with a more negative brand of football in my opinion.
    We can only become entitled when we have a reasonable footballing side with a manager who likes to play the game let’s call it the right way , for me we are a million miles away from this at the moment
    We may scrape a playoff place this season but it won’t be great to watch …..

  5. A damning summary of the side and the manager. Just at the present I can’t see any light at the end of what is becoming an increasingly long tunnel.

    How on earth have we left ourselves so short of striking options? They’ve had all week to prepare for this match, just what do they do in training? We’ve nothing in reserve to freshen things up front. Vaughan has become the “Doyle” of last season and there’s an increasing feeling of mediocrity around the club.Our current league position clouds, what is fast becoming, a very worrying situation at VP.

    Very real doubts are being expressed about the ability of the manager and his mystifying insistence on persisting with tactics that simply aren’t working. The anti GB rumblings currently being expressed on the various message boards will, inevitably, swell to a clamour if these dreadful performances continue.

  6. It’s a badly set up team built in the managers own image. A manager who prioritises league over cup games but doesnt deliver or learn from his mistakes. Bowyer persists with 1 up top with a proven goal scorer that has no one to play off or link up with.

    It’s awful to watch hoof ball, there’s no ball retention or firepower. We have the top scorer in the country on our books but is loaned out to a club top of league 2. Pretty embarrassing scenario.

    18 league games in and ive seen nothing to indicate city will be in the shake up come the end of season. If the team carry on with same old formation and dont start playing to their full potential then a mid table finish looks the likely end product.

    • 18 league games and I’ve seen nothing to indicate City will be in the shake up.

      We’ve never been out of a play off spot. We’ve been in the shake up from day one to now.

      7th. Game in hand.

      Only 4 teams across all leagues have lost less.

      We had a mid table budget already eaten into by over paid players. The place was toxic.


      A sense of entitlement indeed.

      • It is not a mid-table budget. It’s one of the top budgets in the league and more than double the current league leaders

  7. Doyle !!!!!!!!

    • He doesn’t offer anything if we continue with the current tactics. If we are playing one up front and lumping high balls towards them, where do you see Doyle fitting in?

      Both Vaughan and Doyle are great strikers at this level but only if they get some sort of service. We currently don’t seem able to provide said service.

      I think we should try and get Swindon to pay all of Doyle’s wage in January. Use the freed up cash to sort out centre midfield so that GB doesn’t feel he has to play three there to compensate for the existing lack of quality and enable him to play two up top. If that happens we’ll see a lot more goals from Vaughan and forget all about Doyle

      • Hi Andy normally that would be sound, however from what I have read Swindon are already paying the majority of his wage, so if they take over 100% in Jan it is unlikely that will free up enough extra to bring in a new player without someone leaving. Most of Doyle’s wage has already been accounted for since he left.

        In reality to free up cash we need to get rid of Akpan and Anderson. Riley is out for the season so no one will take him.

        Not sure there is anyone else in squad we can afford to lose without a better replacement being available.

  8. Adam, another excellent game report. In particular, I appreciate your not placating the “happy clappers.” Please keep “telling it like it is.”

  9. Perhaps I count as a happy clapper, I prefer to think of it as positive but realistic. Agree we didn’t play well but we looked a lot better late in the game when we switched to 442 after Oteh replaced Ismail. Vaughan missed an open goal and Richards-Everton made another rash challenge and hoofing it up to Vaughan who is up alone against giant defenders is daft. I hold Bowyer responsible for the formation to begin with.

    I do think this article lacks a bit of balance though. There is no mention of Reeves return to the game after 22 months, putting in the best performance of any City player before going off to applause. Taylor had a good debut in my book too. We are also missing Devitt, McCartan and Donaldson, Palmer and Cooke due to injury, who must make some sort of impact on the squad available to Bowyer. Donaldson’s absence in particular has affected us badly.

    Also I note an “allegedly” against Cooke’s injury. Is there any reliable information that he isn’t really injured? Or just a rumour to fit a theory that Cooke is no longer flavour of the month after his recent sending off?

    • Well said. We have remained competitive with a horrendous injury list and from a standing start post Rahic. The first sign of adversity and the boot is well and truly stuck into GBs midriff. Not particularly impressive. We are not going to walkover this division. A point away to a team who have proved a tough nut to crack is not a bad result. We can improve but lets keep this season in some sort of sensible perspective.

  10. Agree that it is a missed opportunity not really taking advantage of our game in hand, but to me it is no coincidence that there has been a downturn in results and performances since Donaldson got injured, and we have no target man up front.

    I always dreaded it when we had Hanson and he got injured, as it led us to be totally toothless and ineffective, and we are seeing the same thing once again.

    We need to grind out a few results until January, and keep in touch with the top 3, then signing another target man is an absolute priority. Do that then I’m confident we will make at least the play offs.

  11. I agree that it was a missed opportunity not taking advantage of our game in hand, but to me it is no coincidence that there has been a downturn in results and performances, since Donaldson got injured and we have no target man up front.

    It was the same when we had Hanson and he got injured, as we were just toothless and ineffective, and you are seeing the same thing once again.

    Grind out a few results until January, and keep in touch with the top 3, then signing another target man is an absolute priority. Do that then I’m confident we will make at least the play offs.

  12. All comes down to Donaldson for me, we had enough to cause problems with him, without him, we get today. Organized, able to win the possession battle but no plan beyond that.

    Reeves looked a level above, always there to take the ball.
    Those asking for Doyle are deluded, assume they drop Vaughan put in Doyle and see exactly what we saw today?

    • Clearly we need another striker but I’m not sure a partnership of Vaughan and Doyle would work assuming that this would convince Bowyer that 442 is the way to go.

      Possibly leaving Doyle at Swindon and agreeing a financial package in our favour so we could get Charlie Wyke back on loan from Sunderland at no additional cost to City may be the way to go? We would then have two traditional centre forwards plus two support strikers in Vaughan and McCarten not to mention Oteh if he is not recalled.

      I realise that Charlie is currently injured but for how long I don’t know. Maybe a month would see him fit. Assuming Parkie is still at Sunderland by January he must be after another striker given their current league position and maybe willing to let Charlie come back? Reading the comments of the Sunderland fans they would be happy to drive him back to Bradford, preferably with Parkie in the next seat!

  13. Again thanks for the report. I cannot go to away games and do look forward to these reports.
    But I do think we expect too much. City were dreadful last season and I feared the real worst this year. We have done rather better than I feared.
    But we are not a good team. Yet I think our league position is higher than at this stage in 2012/13.
    I hope for promotion. I don’t really expect it.
    Please give bowyer 2 more Windows.
    You don’t mention Reeves and I would like your opinion on his display.
    I think we badly miss Donaldson.
    Keep the faith.

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment, you’re right I should’ve mentioned Reeves a little more.

      He was excellent yesterday, by far the best player on the pitch. His range of passing and his football intelligence is something nobody else in the squad possesses, so it is a massive boost to have him back.

      Like I said, his passing was very good, he also wasn’t afraid to get stuck into some hard challenges and was a real leader in that midfield position. I would personally like to see him in the side with Cooke in a more advanced role and I think they’d complement each other well.

  14. The team we had out yesterday was better than most of League two sides on paper. It was full of talent, but they looked like a bunch of strangers. There was no cohesion, no plan, no togetherness. You can only pin that on Gary Bowyer. Why is he persisting with 4-3-3 when our best performances this season have been playing a 4-4-2 formation? You can look back on our previous mangers and describe their style of football (apart from Collins) but I just can describe Bowyers football. One week we play nice passing football and another week it’s just aimless long ball to the lone front man. I really don’t know what goes through his head? I like Gary as a person, he’s a nice bloke who really want to succeed at the club, but i’m really losing patience with him. Long term we need someone who can stabilize us in League one and then get us in the play-offs again. Is Bowyer the man to do that? I’m not sure he is.

  15. Beat Newport and Orient and all is forgiven. Simple as that. The players have to take some responsibility as it is not Gary Bowyer that gave the penalty away nor missed from 6 yards out ! I for one don’t care about the style so much as promotion is about winning, not a style award. We have won i matches but desperately need 2 on the bounce now to restore momentum. The involvement of Taylor and Reeves gives me hope as both were really bright and purposeful. I now want Shay McCartan to become more involved and yes we need Clayton back asap. At the very least a 442 formation will provide a better balance with what we have at our disposal and mean we give a better attacking accountbof ourselves. One point ftom six us a mini slump but nothing more. Six from the next six restores the faith and is completely possible.

  16. The pattern of city’s play is very predictable. I believe the coaching is lacking. Hoof ball is a percentage tactic and whenever Vaughn wins a header there is no one to feed off it. It’s as if all the city players want to stay inside their own half, afraid to be caught on the back foot when possession is lost. If the midfield play is lacking or there is little trust in them keeping possession then the high ball option is used. There is no plan B! I would prefer a style of football that entertains. The last few games have been very poor to watch. I feel that the style we play which is negative will result in a mid-table or worse position. I believe we need a new coach. Drury has been the head coach from the start of last season and it is clear that the combination of Bowyer and Drury is not working.

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