Wasted opportunity piles more pressure on Gary Bowyer as Bradford City blow two-goal lead

Bradford City 2

Akpan 17, Vaughan 19

Scunthorpe United 2

Gilliead 33, McAtee 74

By Jason McKeown (images by John Dewhirst)

How much longer can this go on for? It’s difficult to remember a time when there was such a disparity between Bradford City’s league position and the mood of its fans.

The table remains healthy. The underlying stats look impressive. But football supporting isn’t about numbers. It’s about heart and soul. And right now, this Bradford City manager and squad just aren’t doing enough to fuel morale.

This was another really damaging afternoon for Gary Bowyer. Losing a 2-0 lead at home never looks good, but in a climate when even a three-month unbeaten home run doesn’t protect the City manager from criticism, he was never going to find Valley Parade in a forgiving mood here. Just like at Carlisle United on Boxing Day, the closing stages saw many City fans loudly chanting their disapproval of Bowyer’s style of football. The boos at full time were by some distance the fiercest at home this season.

It’s hard to find reasons to defend Bowyer for this lacklustre City performance. The team was set up so badly, allowing Scunthorpe astonishing levels of freedom in the middle of the park. Only two sides had lost more than Scunthorpe on the road this season, but after achieving an eye-opening 63% possession and registering almost three times more attempts on goal, the visitors will justifiably feel disappointed not to have won the match.

Although they’d have bitten your hand off for a point, 20 minutes into the contest. Having started brightly and seen George Miller denied one-on-one by City’s debutant on-loan stopper, Luke McGee, Scunthorpe suddenly found themselves two goals behind, as the Bantams flexed their muscles.

Firstly Eoin Doyle sent Hope Akpan scampering through with an excellent cross-field pass, with the recalled midfielder finishing well from an angle. Akpan was aided by Jordan Clarke pulling up with an injury as he attempted to chase after the former Burton midfielder. Two minutes later Akpan released the overlapping Connor Wood, and the left back crossed for James Vaughan to stab home for 2-0.

Akpan’s influence going forward had been impressive. His huge inconsistency continues to blemish his reliability, but he produced some strong forward play in the first half which you want to see more often. It was also encouraging to see Wood proving creative again after a slight dip in performances. Vaughan is also now into double figures for the season – he has six goals in his last nine games. With a strong wind, he should be pushing towards reaching the 20-mark over the season’s final 19 games.

Just before and after the two-goal burst, there was much to admire about City’s forward play. Vaughan had hit the post, and Eoin Doyle had seemingly struck a third but was denied by a linesman’s flag. Callum Cooke and Matty Palmer looked confident. A long overdue City thumping of someone looked very possible.

But it all began to unravel, which is where the set up became such a problem. Playing a 5-3-2, with Cooke, Palmer and Akpan in midfield, is useful going forward. But ultimately the trio provide no balance. Their strengths are too similar, and their weaknesses identical. None of them can tackle or track back, and they left a huge gap behind them.

This imbalance, coupled with poor game management, offered Scunthorpe encouragement. Ironically given criticisms of Bowyer’s safety first approach, it was a reckless push for a third goal that was more his team’s undoing.

Bowyer needed Akpan, Palmer and Cooke to be more disciplined and, well, brave. But even when they did go back to support their defence, they were weak and ineffective. Palmer pulled out of several 50-50 challenges – a disgrace, frankly, that does little to enhance the suspicion that many loan players can lack commitment. Even more tellingly, Cooke failed to support Wood in stopping Alex Gilliead from cutting inside and running into the area, and the former Bantams’ loanee finished well to put Scunthorpe back in it. There was no question it was a game-changing moment.

Over the final 12 minutes of the first half, Scunthorpe pushed hard for an equaliser. City’s midfield continued to leave alarming gaps behind them, and the Bantams were indebted to McGee for producing an excellent save to deny John McAtee. The half time whistle was a relief, but Bowyer failed to use the time out to address the midfield balance problem.

He lacked a suitable option to bring on from the bench. He doesn’t have an adequate midfield ball winner. It is criminal that, over a year after his departure, City still haven’t replaced Jim O’Brien. Bowyer has brought in several number 8s who basically offer the same qualities, without signing a proper number 4 to complement them. That is on him. Stefan Rupp used his programme notes to reveal money is available to strengthen. Bowyer must use it to recruit a midfield enforcer.

There was no change to the pattern of the game after half time, as City continued to play on the back foot. Scunthorpe kept exploiting the space, with the deeper lying striker McAtee especially effective. The Bantams were desperately disappointing at keeping the ball when they had it, too quickly putting themselves back under pressure. They needed to slow down the tempo. Just pass it around slowly. Be horrible. Embrace those darker arts.

The whole team structure just looked wrong. The front two are habitually isolated. Doyle’s loan at Swindon underlined how good he is in the final third, but too often here he had to come deep to get involved with the build up play. Playing three centre backs leaves obvious confusion over who should pick up opposition players during open play. Kelvin Mellor and Wood struggle to get up and down for a full 90 minutes. Both would be much more effective with a winger on their side of the pitch to link up with.

Scunthorpe’s equaliser was ultimately no surprise. McAtee produced a nice bit of skill to beat Paudie O’Connor, who had tried to plug the regular gap between midfield and defence. The 20-year-old McAtee – who up until the summer had been playing non league football – ran and ran, with Anthony O’Connor guilty of standing off, and he had time and space to unleash a powerful low shot into the corner for his first Football League goal.

There were 16 minutes to go, and attention quickly shifted towards the familiar Bowyer failing. Having lost the initiative, the onus was now on City to push hard to regain the lead. Bowyer’s substitutions were predictably safe, prompting boos. As the minutes ticked by, Valley Parade was near silent. There was no confidence in the crowd that we were about to see a late Bantams’ rally.

Bowyer’s supporters often point to the fact that Phil Parkinson – the last manager to get City promoted – played a dour style of football with obvious success. They have a point to an extent, but it ignores the Parkinson Push – he would often keep it cagey, only to let the players off the leash in the final 20 minutes. So many times, in the closing stages Parkinson would set up the team to go for it, relying on the wonderful fitness work of Nick Allamby to ensure there was sufficient energy in the tank. There is no Bowyer Push. His risk and reward outlook remains on the low side. And even when City did try to push forwards in the closing stages, many players like Mellor looked exhausted and unable to physically drive on.

Still, there was so nearly a late City winner. Substitute Shay McCartan broke clear with claret and amber shirts in support. His ball to fellow sub Dylan Connolly was poor, but the Irishman was still able to send a low cross into the box. Doyle got in front of Jake Reeves when he should really have left it for him to try and score, but even then you were waiting for Europe’s top scorer to get his shot on target. Alas, he got right underneath the ball and it flew harmlessly into the Kop. Not even close.

The sight of a crestfallen Doyle shaking his head summed up City. Since October, at Swindon Doyle had struck in 12 out of 13 matches. Two games back at Bradford City, and he’s yet to score. Absolutely typical.

Bowyer struck a curiously upbeat tone after the game, talking up the positives. It didn’t feel authentic. Privately, he must be feeling the pressure of seeing his public increasingly turn on him. Anxious to avoid it becoming toxic. Bowyer is right to preach calmness, but his skewed take of events doesn’t inspire confidence that he fully grasps the issues.

The manager is of course the focus of the post match ire, but in his partial defence he can justifiably feel let down by his players. In truth, this was one of the worst home performances of the season. To a man, the 90-minute display wasn’t good enough. So many poor decisions, dreadful passes, silly fouls. A contagious lack of bravery, especially by the end. They are capable of so much more than this.

The debate about Bowyer’s ability as Bradford City manager boils down to the question of whether you believe he is making the best of a poor hand, or is making a good hand look poor. Days like this suggest it’s probably a bit of both. But ultimately, with the right set up and greater trust in his players, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Bowyer could be getting more from the resources he has.

There is no chance he will be sacked as long as City remain in the play offs, and ultimately it is entirely right that his job is safe right now. City have won almost half of their league matches and lost just six times all season. They have third-best defensive record in League Two. And the division’s strongest home form. They are just two points and two places off the automatic promotion places. It is a record any replacement manager would struggle to beat.

But of course, it comes back to the hearts and minds. We were playing some decent football up until mid October. But now, it’s horrible to watch. There’s little joy to take, even from recent victories. And when the team inevitably has dips like this, no mercy is shown from a cynical crowd.

There continues to be this argument from some that ugly football is the only way to succeed in League Two. That is simply not true. It is, of course, an effective way to succeed in a division of low skill, but not the only way. The four teams sitting above City are all well regarded for playing a more passing, adventurous style. We can reasonably expect more than what is being served up.

Bowyer is entitled to play the way he sees fit, even though of late his vision seems increasingly muddled. But with such a pragmatic approach, it all comes down to if he can deliver success. Get promoted, and the ends will justify the means. But if City fall short, it would be difficult to make a case for keeping Bowyer in the summer – if we keep playing like this. He might have another year on his contract, but another year in League Two, deploying this type of football, would do nothing to attract season tickets and restore trust from supporters in the club.

Any day of reckoning is still a long way off. But things cannot go on this way forever. No one seems to be happy – not fans, not players, and not the manager. This had been an afternoon that had offered the chance for everyone to come together. To ease the growing tensions. But instead, the levels of frustration are up to the highest they’ve been all season.

Something is going to snap soon.

Categories: Match Reviews, Opinion

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35 replies

  1. I have often felt dejected during the 70 years I have supported City. Today was one of those days. Unlike Jason I don’t blame the players . But I blame the manager.. I have never claimed to be a tactical expert but it was clear to anyone that the team were set up badly today. The midfield was a City free area populated only by Scunthorpe players. No wingers but Connelly sitting on the bench. Mellor slower than a carthorse. Palmer chickening out. Akpan making two superb contributions then retiring from the game.
    I am angry. The last time I was angry was against Wimbledon last year but that was because the players did not try . Today they did try but were let down by their manager.
    He needs to learn now. Please. Gary get your thinking straight . Today was not good enough .

  2. Looking forward to reading the optimistic comments from the glass half full posters. I’m sure they will remind us that City moved up to fifth place and we are only two points from automatic promotion. The realistic posters like myself will point out that City are only two points above ninth place. Since early November, City have won only 3 games out of 14 in all competitions.

    In retrospect, my opinion… the return of Doyle was pointless, because I doubted Bowyer’s willingness or inability to change tactics appears to becoming reality. If there is no improvement by the end of January, Rhodes will have to seriously look at a change in manager. Since Stuart left, City have done a poor job in manager and player recruitment. I dread the thoughts of bringing in our fifth manager in two years. Talking about Rhodes, I wonder if he was blinded by Bowyer’s promotion with Blackpool??

  3. it was a really disappointing afternoon – too often the players looked static, and even disinterested – I can’t believe Scunthorpe were that much of a threat. We never seemed to get to the 50/50 balls, and there were never players free up front. Where’s the fire & commitment?? that’s it for me at Valley Parade for a while – I’m not spending my pension watching such a lack of imagination & effort

  4. The amount of possession we gave up was frightening as the home team who expect to be in the mix come the end of the season. Stats also say Scuntorpe had double the amount of shots than city and completed 200 more passes.

    I cant argue with anything written in this article. Apart from a 10 minute spell when we scored the 2 goals and missed 2 other great chances Scunthorpe ran the game, dictated the tempo, over ran us in midfield and played as team with a game plan and a passing style that can succeed and lead to promotion at this level.

    The 3 at the back is not working with wing backs that dont get forward. Theres no balance in terms of wingers to link up play with the full backs to make chances for Vaughen or Doyle. The 2 strikers have to drop deep to get into the game or they end up tussling with defenders trying to win flick ons from long balls.

    We are so light weight in midfield with no real ball winner to protect the defence and break up play. A Oconner appears to be the dominant centre half whilst his name sake and Richard-Everton flounder about not looking at all comfortable with their supposed roles.

    Bowyer really has no idea how to change tact and set the team up that gets the best out of them. I am absolutely astounded that this approach 28 games in leaves city in a play off spot. Are players such as Akpan, Palmer, ishmail, McCarten capable of upping their games and putting in a shift worthy of the name over 12 to 15 games? I dont think they are.

    I’ve been very disappointed with what Bowyer has shown so far and the fans chants of “yours football is shite” is reminiscent of the chants from the kop of “we want football” under the dark days of John Docherty.

    For me I have no faith in what Bowyer is trying to achieve and his analysis of performances on the pitch are so wide of the mark that I really think he is losing the plot. If performances and tactics dont change for the better and soon get ready for futher unrest and the pressure been cracked up further on both manager and players alike

    • Talking about football tactics….City played with no width and had 14 crosses compared to Scunthorpe who played with width and had 31 crosses. City currently have 4 attacking wingers who are under used. Why??

  5. Your match assessment is accurate. The need for a ball winning number 4 is urgently needed. Bowyer states there will be no signings coming in before the deadline ends.
    I felt so sorry for Doyle today he really tried but like last time the front 2 were looking for scraps to feed off.
    Vaughn is unavailable for the next 2 games. Unless Donaldson returns we are in for a tough time.
    Bowyer’s post match comments does not inspire me with hope. He praised Scunthorpe as a good team in a false position. Say he was impressed with the way city battled. I honestly thought I must be watching a totally different game. Other than the 10 minute spell in the first half city was not in the game. Scunthorpe must feel badly aggreived they didn’t win this match. City for 80 minutes were dreadful. This has been an ongoing pattern with no signs that things are going to improve. The coaching and tactics are not right. The midfield were poor and showing no desire to get stuck in.
    It’s clear that radical action is needed. Bowyer needs to go. I expect that many will disagree with me but there seems little alternative. Unless there is a seismic change over next few games, there is no alternative but for both the coach and manager to go.

  6. Remember the days when Bradford attacked the kop in the second half? Nailed on pressure and expectation from fans coincided with anticipated intent. Those days now seem far away. Andrew Davies on the pitch at halftime. Gary Jones co commentation on radio coverage. Two examples of bygone players that maybe didn’t always demonstrate technical ability, but always demonstrated leadership, braveness and commitment. Traits sadly lacking by the majority wearing a Bradford shirt today.

  7. Great read Jason and do you fancy been the manager, you are are absolutely right in your summary of the game,I’ve been a poor mans manager in the Football for over twenty years and the tactics especially at home are so negative with no plan b or ability to change the game tactically and his use of his subs are a joke ,I was sat with my son and he left saying to me thinking we had a home game this Tuesday ,there’s no way I am coming on Tuesday wasting my my time watching this ?,I wonder how many are thinking like him and start to vote with there feet,the club and the owner should be worried .

  8. Well, I’ve been on the glass half full side for weeks but now I have turned. These performances are not a one-off. They are now week in and week out. Boring football. I felt sorry for Doyle and Vaughan who both put in a shift for my money and like previous posters, I cannot say that going to Valley Parade is a thrilling experience these days. Just a frustating, boring experience which leads to anger for the rest of the evening.
    You are right that we are not going to sack Bowyer while in the play offs, but our form for the last 12 games or so will mean we are not there by Easter. The board has backed Bowyer far more than I expected this season but he is now in a very dangerous position with an ever-dwindling base of support on the terraces. I have now left that diminishing number.

  9. Its coming to an end. The bubble will burst around early Feb. The tactics will finally drop us out of the play offs and we will sink to our rightful place of mid table. It will be too late to change anything significant and it will bring the season to a slow and even more painful end. The only saving grace is Leeds are capitulating early this year. Time for the owner to give a realistic update on to his strategy for the next couple of years. Season ticket sales . . . . hahaha.

  10. Thanks Jason for another sound report and analysis.
    I do not like to single out players because of factors like team set up etc. But I’m making an exception in the case of Palmer for his second half performance. In effect it meant Scunthorpe had 12 men to City’s 10. How he stayed on beggars belief. I would love to know Bowyer’s rationale. I’d like to watch and comment on the second half again with him by my side.
    I remain hopeful that things will improve a little if Donaldson can make an effective return but not sure if this is likely before March.
    Optimism after first half of season has turned to depression!

  11. Obviously it was a poor performance, particularly in the 2nd half, but I actually thought the Morcambe and Mansfield displays were worse than this, but what masked them somewhat were the results.

    It’s pretty clear that the 3-5-2 formation doesn’t work from an attacking perspective, and there is no point in having Doyle and Vaughan up front, if there is no-one creative to supply them.

    Ideally you would want to have 2 up front, with either those two, or play 1 of them with Donaldson, but if we keep on getting over run in midfield, then Bowyer might have to play just 1 up top, with either a McCartan, Devitt or a Pritchard behind them in the number 10 role, flanked by 2 wide players, which was a formation that worked well for Scunny yesterday.

    I think we’ve missed that big man to hold the ball up in Donaldson, and Vaughan’s suspension could be a blessing in disguise, as Bowyer will either have to bring in Clayton, or play someone in the number 10 role, who can track back and help out the midfield.

  12. I’ve turned too! Does Gary Bowyer think we are daft or blind? His post match comments are now becoming insulting to us all. He’s never once said since he came in that he got the tactics wrong or taking an ounce of ownership for any crap performance of which there has been many let’s be honest. I don’t think any fan can say we haven’t got players capable of getting promoted and/or playing well so it’s only tactics or motivation that can cause us to be falling down the table. Surely the Chairman can flex his muscles at a time like this and just give him a nudge from a commercial perspective if anything? We stand to loose another load of ST holders at this rate for next season and beyond. Yes he stopped the rot, has players giving effort and improved the home form but now it’s time to kick on from that. He has to take action on yesterday by in my opinion sending Palmer and Cooke back to their clubs. We can’t carry midfielders who can’t track back or be brave enough to tackle . We’ve enough on our own books we don’t need anymore from other clubs. In L2 having a tackling, tracking back combative midfield to get promoted is a necessity. Out of our 13 midfield options we have nothing of the sort. Anyone seen or heard of Danny Devine for 2 months by the way? One of our own that’s been cast aside with no explanation. Is it just me or does anyone else have a feeling that a 4-0 drubbing is just around the corner?


    • I absolutely agree with you about the insulting version of the game which we get from the manager every week. If he thinks that was a fighting performance then god help us.
      Just be honest Bowyer how about: “yes it wasn’t a great performance, I’m glad we got a point. We’ll keep battling away to improve it”. Remember we’ve been here longer than you and will be here long, long after you have gone, whatever happens this season, so don’t treat us as idiots.

  13. Gary Bowyer made no impression last season. Twenty seven games in this season, and it feels as though he’s “lost” the majority of the fan base. I’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but it seems these performances are going to be the “norm”. Yesterday was unacceptable and,worryingly, from his comments, it appears he’s fairly relaxed at the situation and can’t see the obvious problems.

    The question is “how long do you leave it?”. Life has taught me that if if something’s not right, or not working, after a reasonable period of time, the sooner action is taken the better. Certainly, the current discontent will cause Rhodes to worry about the effect on season ticket.sales.

    The problem facing Rupp and Rhodes is not so much the timing of pulling the trigger but, who’s available to replace him? Neil Warnock is the name being bandied about but he’s 71, for heavens sake.

    Therefore, the lack of any obvious replacement waiting in the wings, may be the only factor in prolonging the tenure of Bowyer and us fans will have to suck it up in the meantime. Following the failures of the recent past, the club needs to get the next appointment right.

  14. Just a query Jason. It has been suggested that Palmer has a, ‘if fit must play clause’ in his loan. Do you know if this is true? If it applies to Palmer, then why not the other five loan players? Such a requirement(s) would seriously limit Bowyer’s options. Frankly Palmer seems to be ‘underachieving’, it seems surprising that he can claim a starting place and avoid being substituted. If such a clause is in place, this is a serious additional burden.

  15. Great article again Jason. As the crude social media polls currently offering a simple ‘IN’ / ‘OUT’ binary choice in The Trial of Gary Bowyer lack any nuance or context, your article does a brilliant job of summing up how many of us feel right now.

    In particular, your point about ‘hearts and minds’ rings very true for two reasons.

    First, Bowyer is learning quickly that we City fans remember. You can’t throw a line out here and there to the media because it sounds good or captures a moment. Because we’re really listening. Because we really do care.

    So if you enter a new season, quite rightly dampening some high expectations, but in a way that promises City fans at the very least that we’ll see “passion, pace, and power”, then you can’t shirk the responsibility of having said that when you’re now delivering “poor, pragmatic, and pedestrian” football.

    We remember, you see.

    As you say, we are asked to give Bowyer the benefit for the doubt because he has made some huge strides in repairing the club from last season – both on and off the field. But this brings me to another point.

    And that is, second, the narrative of the club just seems all wrong to me. Where is our vision, our strategy, and our grand plan for the FUTURE?

    I appreciate “get out of League 2 and then we’ll reflect” makes some short-term sense, but I fear the club – in seeking to mend what Rahic broke – has become a little too obsessed with who we were, not who we are or want to be.

    We’re a bit stuck in the recent PAST.

    Countless initiatives – from the new #CityforAll campaign videos through to the seemingly endless reunion dinners being put on by the club for high prices – are inviting fans to remember just how great things were only 20 (premiership) or 5 (history makers) years ago.

    Two consequences follow from this way of engaging with your fan base.

    One – it sharpens minds in their assessment of the current squad, as we start to benchmark where we are against (quite literally) “exceptional” moments in our recent history, which is very dangerous for morale; and two – it looks as if you’re papering over the cracks in the club’s sense of itself and where wants to go. Nostalgia can be good, but not at the expense of addressing the pressing issues of today and tomorrow.

    Pre-season, after all, we were promised more and expanded supporters clubs meetings, greater fan engagement with Bowyer and the squad, as the club looked to build a new era of openness and transparency to reconnect with supporters fast losing faith and interest. Admittedly viewed only from the outside (so I may be very wrong here), but it appears little of this has sustained momentum beyond some early meetings

    The club just seems to have drifted for months from one game to the next with only platitudes from Bowyer to stitch things together – we’ve heard nothing from Rhodes and only a rather strange video from Rupp.

    VP can be awfully silent these days, but where has the passion and belief gone inside the club – from the manager, the Board, the players? It looks and feels like a burden on everyone just being at the club.

    Which, to return to the point, asks just how repaired is the club on and off the field? As supporters, it’s starting to “feel” a lot like last season, even though – as you rightly point out – it isn’t: we are far, far better off in terms of league position and other records.

    But something isn’t right. The club need to step up with something positive soon, or I fear we might (yet again) be stuck in League 2 looking for a new manager come May.

  16. I understand people’s frustrations, but here’s my view

    City finished bottom of league 1 last year, the last 5 teams to do so are as follows

    Bury (kicked out of the football league)
    Chesterfield (non league)
    Crewe (still league 2)
    Yeovil Town (non league)
    Stevenage (still league 2)

    from what i’ve seen being an inch away from the championship is very much in people’s memories, but that’s ancient history now – this season was always going to be about consolidation and re building, stability is needed anything else is a bonus

    we have no right to walk this league

    • But we have a right to watch a team who are playing with passion and a desire. To play to strengths to compete and play for 90 + minutes. To play tatics that compliments the the side on the pitch and how the opposition are likely to play. All the above has been a rare commodity this season. From October onwards we have been dire. Yet we have a manager that seems to be oblivious to the concerns the mass of the supporters have. If we continue to play this way going forward then the goal of 20k supporters buying in for next season is as unachievable as Sala signing for us before the end of January.

    • Try selling 20,000 season tickets on the back of ‘a season of consolidation. Hopefully the club have more ambition than you seem to do.

      • Theres nowt wrong with trying to put our current position into context. You are going to get a very limited perspective of the game if you don’t look at the history of this club and the record of others. Doing so does not mean you lack ambition or set challenging goals. Recent performances have been atrocious but that does not negate the progress made or preclude an early return to winning ways.

  17. Saturday’s formation was the worst managerial display I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t even blame the players as the formation prevented them from attacking. How could you have a formation which vacated the wings when coming up against Gilliead who inevitably had Wood on a string. I thought Scunthorpe looked very average, however Bowyer set us up to allow them to have the ball all game. It baffles me how you can let a side come to VP and play. To me Bowyer looked lost on Saturday. I understand the tactic of having 2 wing backs pushed higher up however this idea is based on us attacking and having the ball. Wood and Mellor simply aren’t very attacking and therefore it just means you have 5 defenders. It won’t happen as Bowyer will have 5 at the back again, however I hope with Vaughan injured he’ll set them up 4231 with Cooke and Reeves in midfield, Pritchard just in front with Mccartan and Connolly on the wing and obviously Doyle up front. I truly believe we have the best squad in this league, so please please just attack.

    • Will you can play whatever formation you like but if you cough up the ball continuously and allow the opposition possession without any pressure on the ball you will get tonked. Three in midfield would work if the three will work their socks off and give some cover out wide. Cannot see Palmer or Akpan getting through that workload sadly. You a right that the wing backs did not really have the ball enough in the last third.

      • I understand your point and Akpan and Palmers workrate don’t suit the press frustratingly, however I remember in the game Akpan went to close their lad down (rare I know) but they just played it in behind as there was too much room. City could have pressed in midfield all they wanted however there was too much room for them too pass it around them. The press would have been far more effective with the wing backs higher up.

  18. Two points from this article first Scunthorpe away record may not be that good but they have won three of the last 4.
    Secondly Doyle should look crestfallen because in the last two matches he has missed glaring opportunities to give us more points.

    • It is a good point you make regarding Scunthorpe’s form away from home. Scunthorpe are the best performing team in league 2 over the last six away games -winning 4, drawing 1 and losing away at Crewe.

      Maybe we can scrape some consolation from Saturday’s result -if not the performance- after all?

  19. Vaughan isn’t injured, he’s suspended.

    This raises the question that, somewhat surprisingly I feel, hasn’t been asked so far – is he fit to be the captain? Following his reckless challenge on Saturday, made in the full knowledge that he was one booking away from suspension and with Clayton Donaldson still not fit to play, suggests very strongly that he isn’t.

    The example he sets to his teammates with his endless pantomime pratfalls, rash challenges so far resulting in 10 bookings this season, and out-of-control rantings at the ref must leave his more restrained teammates wondering how on earth Bowyer saw fit to give him the armband in the first place.

    The job of the captain is to lead by example and gee up/console/put his arm round the players as necessary. He is the Managers emissary on the pitch, but he’s got to be on the pitch to do the job!

    Bowyer needs to grasp this particular nettle and take the armband off Vaughan – but who to give it to? The last time we had this problem was during the Parky era when Ricky The Terminator Ravenhill was skipper – another one who didn’t stay on the pitch long enough to do his job properly. With the arrival of Gary Jones, Parky had the ideal replacement and the armband was passed to him with Ricky becoming ‘Club Captain’. Trouble is we don’t have a Gary Jones this time.

  20. I agree on the Vaughan issue, He has not ripped trees up, and is constantly waiting for a free kick, from chucking himself on the floor, show some strength and keep hold of the ball, rubbish football, it will be interesting with Him suspended for the next two games and maybe Doyle will get His goal and if we win the next two games without Him, then its time to drop Him and give the captaincy to Dylan Connolly, who is the only player with passion and desire at the moment, and if you lead by example then a deserved captain for me, even if He is on loan, He is here for the rest of the season, great character.

    Donaldson could also pick up the captaincy on His return, but for me Vaughan has been found out, started well and now sat on a 3 year deal, loan Him out for 3 year.

    • Connolly as captain – seriously? Takes more than fist pumping gestures to the crowd.
      I like Connolly but to put it in so me kind of perspective, he’s only played league football since Jan, been bombed out at Wimbledon and not scored a single goal for us. Scunthorpe’s winger Eisa by comparison has scored 8 and the universally reviled Akpan has 4 or 5!!

  21. All about results for me..and the last two gave not been good enough…Colchester, Mansfield and Cheltenham have to yield at least six points to turn this around.

  22. Bowyers tactics recently are a disgrace let’s have it right. He’s lucky to have a job still. We’re too soft as a club and are obsessed with stability etc. We should be protecting our identity and clubs honour. This is an embarrassment which now the players are becoming embarrassed with you can see it. Get on with it. Find something that works and stick with it. GBs time should be up – any club of our size throughout the country wouldn’t let this shambles continue any longer. Loosing fans week by week. 14,000 last 4/5 home games -? my arse – Warnock please. Get the job done and get out of this grim league.

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