Decisions, decisions

By Philip Jackson

Ever since the weekend it’s been on my mine and perhaps on yours; come Tuesday, do I bother? 72 hours of dithering and debating.

Come 7:20 tonight I was still on the fence, had been all day; it’s too cold, too toxic, too much else to do.

Yeah, but it’s City and you never know.

Light traffic, green lights, quiet roads and we’re there, through the deserted concourse and down the steps of a quiet ground. The rake of the Kop swathed in empty seats. As expected many have made the opposite decision and stayed away.

It takes a couple of minutes to register the play, the match, the flow of a game we have broken in on late. We attack and the referee finds a fleeting moment of clarity, pointing to the spot and giving a penalty.

The remainder of the half, with some attempts from both teams to create something meaningful, meanders away. Broken up by whistles and fouls and attacking intent snuffed out by indecision.

The boys in claret and amber showed more fight, resilience and willingness than seen in recent weeks. Encouragement came in the return of Clayton Donaldson, seemingly attracting and holding the ball up more than all other attempts by any other City forward during his three month absence put together. Dylan Connolly and Shay McCartan beside him more purposeful and probably hopeful of feeding off him,

Added enthusiasm needs to be tempered by good decision making however. This is essential when you throw in the true wildcard of the first half; referee Stockbridge. Reading from the league two referee’s handbook of ineptitude, he gave fouls where there were none and missed the plain and obvious. I can only assume he’d decided to penalise one team solidly for ten minutes then swap and do the same for the opposition for the next ten, I felt that the football was merely a conduit allowing him to take centre stage.

Faced once more with the irrationality only a referee can bring, the City players fell into the trap and made it easy for him to book and penalise with alacrity. The returning Jamie Devitt more than most. An encouraging first half was soured as he received a second caution for a sliding challenge, and you knew it was going to happen. He may of got the ball, he may have caught the man, but he slid into a trap and Mr Stockbridge did what comes naturally.

The second half seemed to sum up the team’s stuttering season perfectly. The inability to make decisions. The inability to retain the ball and do anything at all with it.

My inevitable neck strain of always looking left I had predicted came true.

Instead of the midfield deciding to pressure Cheltenham as wave after inevitable wave endlessly, slowly and inaccurately washed up onto the shore of City’s penalty area, they erred. Backing off and backing off, getting a boot on it, to kick it to no-one except a blue shirt to advance again.

As a collective they just didn’t seem to know how to find an answer, unaware of being able to pass to a team mate find space and allow the team to breathe.

I wonder if this is indecision comes from a lack of belief in Bowyer?

Araminde Oteh, on for the tiring Donaldson after an hour had a couple of runs, but fell over on both occasions.  He didn’t seem to worry the Cheltenham backline the way Donaldson had. The younger man lacking the guile and command and experience of the veteran. A fitter Clayton may have encouraged a greater willingness from his teammates to commit more to attacks.

In the end, a rare shot on target was parried and redemption fell into the path Alfie May, gesticulating at the crowd on his way back to the halfway line.

Perhaps I’m too harsh, half the team lay drained and empty on the Valley Parade pitch at full time, clasping a hard-earned point in the hands with applause rather than boos filtering into their ears.

There are still more decisions to be made. My gut tells me that, like the team in the second half, the club will just keep booting it away and try and see this storm out, hoping they can get through it by making the easy decision of keeping the status quo. Deciding not to pay off the manager and his staff is cheaper and easier, instead of putting your foot on the ball, making some passes and working your way out of the mess. Whatever that may look like.

They will point to the first half and see the fight and commitment. That the dressing room and season are not lost and to stick with their man.

As for me, I’m just happy with the decision I made, late though it was. I heard no boos or Bowyer out chants. Bradford City looked like a team desperate to win, to please, to claim some pride back, so that is a start. It is all any of us have right now.

I enjoyed laughing and shouting at the referee, the opposition’s ineptitude, bad throws and wayward passes, paid professionals kicking the ball into their own face, a million droplets of rain dancing in the floodlight’s glow, worrying why the tunnel traffic lights went to yellow, being with my son in a place we love, and many other moments that somehow add up to something.

Categories: Opinion

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14 replies

  1. In terms of the game they were always going to sit in with two banks of four and play safety first when in possession after the break.I don`t necessarily agree that keeping GB is the easy option given the clamour for his head. Sacking the manager is we all know is often the first response to adversity .That said your last paragraph says it all mate….your Club…your family…your mates in a place you can genuinely call home. Nothing beats it and invariably if you turn up when others are failing you get rewarded. Loved the sentiment

    • Keeping GB is a massive gamble. Potentially, the inquisition at season’s end could be quite toxic. Especially, if Doyle returns to promotion winning Swindon and City continue to slowly slide down the table.

      If the rumours are true that Vaughan was a negative influence in the dressing room and yet still remained captain. What does that say about Bowyer and his leadership skills?

      The other rumour about him wanting to be closer to his family in Liverpool is comparable to Trump wanting witnesses for his impeachment trial. Absolutely laughable!!

  2. Good article

  3. We have played against 10 a couple of times and the opposition managed to play a part. We may have had more possession but never did we monopolies like Cheltenham did last night. We should have held the ball better than we did. It’s clear we need a midfield player in the Cullen or Jones mold and along with a dominant experienced striker. If we don’t we will drift downwards. I am currently not confident in Bowyer doing the business long term. There are still problems particularly on the coaching side. I always felt that management and coaching should be singing from the same hymn sheet. Currently that is not happening.

  4. Very enjoyable article

  5. Funny last night against Cheltenham, seemed like a different side totally, Passion, Commitment, Chasing, Blocking, Chucking Bodies On The Line, and who could miss out Dylan Connolly, take a bow my son, that kid ran His Heart out for everything, to a Standing Ovation at the final whistle.

    I was saying to my son a long time ago, something is not right here from how we started season, and I said I think it’s Vaughan, He has not been ripping trees up and as He is captain this is a difficult situation and over time it has shown, and it could not have been Doyle as He was at Swindon.

    As soon as He is left out of squad, due to a possible loan move to Tranmere, a different team turn up, I am not a mathematician, but I will leave it up to You Wonderful Fans to work that one out.

    Best bit of business from Bradford City so far this season, Goodbye Vaughan and Good Riddance.

    Yes, we will Terminate your contract by mutual consent at the end of the season, so you can sign for Tranmere

    Obviously, we are waiting for players in before we release Doyle, unless this is going to be a kamikaze transfer window, which I would doubt, interesting to whom will get to walk through the Valley Parade doors.

    Come Friday this nightmare will be over and we will maybe have a couple of Fresh new player’s and we go again for one last big push we are still in a Good Position and it’s in our hands with Fresh Galvanised side.

    So let’s make Valley Parade a fortress with Noise, let’s get out of this league because the Ref’s are too good, Lol 😂

    What’s the saying….one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
    Or the other is… you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter.
    Our club is in a total mess.
    Owner doesn’t want to be there.
    Chief executive doesn’t want to be there.
    Manager not wanted by fans.
    Style of football boring , rubbish, not entertaining.
    I hoped we would have some kind of silver lining after last year, but no.
    Bowyer was the cheapest option, a bloke desperate to stay in the show business of football management.
    Assembling a team of ex tangerines, or cronies all desperate to hang on to the business called football.

    One thing though……. they ALL forgot about the audience.
    They Couldn’t manage a sweet shop !
    20,0000 YOUR HAVING A LAUGH.
    Couldn’t sell 20,000 penny chews on this effort.
    Look out chesterfield here we come.😴

  7. Decisions, Decisions…..A lot is happening and even more being said…
    For what its worth this is my considered reflection:
    1. Bowyer unlikely to be sacked at least whilst City are in, or on margins of, play off positions. So let’s put change of manager on hold for awhile and focus on next 10 games with as much positivity as possible in these trying times.
    2. Vaughan is gone. Let’s hope Bowyer learns something from this.
    3. Let Doyle return but for cash. No thankyou re any deal with Woolery Do not spend cash but rather get 4-5% on it and ‘save’ it for next season – it will be needed.
    4. Stick with what we’ve got up front – Donaldson and McCartan provided a glimpse of what might be on Tuesday night.
    5. Get Pritchard fully fit and play in a free-roving role.
    6. Deploy Cooke as midfield ‘leader’ and tell him its his position for next 10 games barring injury or suspension.
    7 Persevere with Akpan (and possibly Taylor) but threaten a 50% pay cut if they go absent for long periods of game!
    8. Put Reeves, Palmer and Anderson on gardening leave.
    9. Who is Motley-Henry – never heard of him – certainly not seen him !
    My prediction at start of season was 9th – but follow this plan and maybe we’ll sneak into 7th !!

    Rick H

  8. IanL

    Fantastic input of Turn your caps lock off.

    Using it to highlight Key Words.

    Lol, lol, lol.

  9. Regarding Vaughan allegedly being a bad influence….what happened to football being a village? Does the Tranmere manager not live in this village?
    Surely the job of the manager is to manage players and the influence they bring to the dressing room? And did Bowyer only move to the footballl village after signing Vaughan… smacks of the club captain doing his job by telling it the way it is, and the manager reacting badly to me….

  10. Surely the only decision left after today’s debacle is to tell Bowyer and his lot not to bother turning up on Monday and clear their desks !! Absolutely embarrassing and an utter shambles of a group of players and management that are supposed to represent this club.

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