Just not good enough as Bradford City stumble at home to Harrogate Town

Bradford City  0 Harrogate Town 1
  Kerry 74

By Jason McKeown

This was a very bad night for Bradford City. Defeat on national TV to their upstart neighbours, Harrogate Town. And a timid performance that does little to ease the delicate supporter mood. It all adds further unease about the prospects of a Bantams promotion push this season.  

It was, without question, a deserved victory for the enthusiastic visitors. Right from kick off, Harrogate signalled their intent, pressing City high up the pitch and attacking in numbers. In total, Town recorded 25 shots on goal and performed with a bravery and vigour curiously lacking in their hosts. It was a remarkable moment in Harrogate’s heady rise up the football pyramid – but it was a message, also, that they have the capability to climb higher yet.

For Stuart McCall and Bradford City, it will now be a week of trying to find solutions to issues that this dismal defeat has brought to light. Harrogate’s adventurous approach sharply brought into focus the limitations of the diamond formation. The large amount of space it leaves on the flanks, which Harrogate’s attack-minded full backs gleefully exposed. And the formation’s heavy reliance on the player at the tip of the midfield diamond – the number 10 – to provide the creative spark.

“Sometimes a diamond works, sometimes it doesn’t,” McCall reflected after the game, adding that his hope was that City would have passed the ball better, got their own full backs higher up the park and enabled Billy Clarke to be more influential. Harrogate’s approach to counter the diamond was far from flawless, and City did create chances, but the visitors were largely able to override the Bantams’ system.

For large parts of the evening, the home side were caught on the backfoot. Reliant on good defending and the goalkeeping heroics of captain Richard O’Donnell, who produced one particularly excellent first half block to keep out a header from former Bantam loan hero Jon Stead.

But the problem for McCall is that his backline always seems to have at least one mistake in it. One lapse of concentration, that typically is punished. So it was that with just over a quarter of an hour to play, Elliott Watt lost track of Lloyd Kerry, who stole in behind Reece Staunton to convert Jack Muldoon’s brilliant cross. It was a good goal from Harrogate’s perspective, but an exceptionally poor one to concede when viewed through claret and amber lens.

City were already seemingly battling to hang on for a 0-0 before falling behind. And they really struggled to muster a response. Even though substitute Austin Samuels could and probably should have salvaged a point, blazing a shot high and wide with three minutes to play. 

An equaliser would have been a get out of jail card moment for City, who just couldn’t get going save for a decent spell midway through the first half. There were few, if any, outfield Bantam players who could leave the field at full time with any credit. The game proved to be a significant examination of the squad’s character, and it didn’t throw up encouraging results. “We had too many 5 out of 10s tonight,” rued McCall.

The familiar problem of a lack of attacking prowess was evident once more. But the gloom it has been causing was added to here by the fact the hunt for the striker had reached its conclusion 48 hours before the game, with the arrival of Samuels. It’s no longer about waiting for reinforcements, it’s hoping that what is available is going to be good enough. Evidence was in short supply here. 

Samuels, who came on with 21 minutes to play, looked incredibly raw. He was caught offside several times and gave the ball away often in attack. McCall had sacrificed Billy Clarke and moved away from the diamond by introducing Samuels, but the 4-3-3 was overrun by a Harrogate side who never dipped in their energy levels. Kurtis Guthrie also made a late cameo, but his own personal hunt for a first City goal goes on. 

McCall started with Lee Novak and Clayton Donaldson, and it wasn’t without some flashes of decent moments. A first half link up between the pair saw Novak fire a half volley at Harrogate keeper James Belshaw, who made a decent save. Donaldson also had a reasonable first half effort saved by Belshaw.

Those opportunities were as good as it got for City. Too often, the build up play in the final third was laboured in its tempo – a contrast to Harrogate’s urgency at the other end. Several times City worked the ball into decent positions, but a lack of incisiveness led to one pass too many, seeing play either go backwards or the move breaking down. It needs to be faster.

Worryingly, Gareth Evans – who’s arrival feels like a genuine coup – had a second full debut to forget. Playing on the left in the diamond, he offered little going forward and was reluctant to take opposition players on.

Too often, Evans looked for the easy pass. He has the talent and experience to take on much more responsibility than he seemed wiling to offer. Defensively, he also left Connor Wood too exposed. He was taken off at half time due to an injury. He will perform better. He has to. 

Callum Cooke – who has also made a slow start to the season – replaced Evans. However, the substitute also missed a glorious opportunity, two minutes into the second half. Donaldson had held up the ball very well and backheeled it into Cooke’s path, but from an angle the midfielder flashed his shot across goal and wide of the post. A huge moment.

City did look more solid in shape after Cooke’s arrival, but also lost a bit more of their attacking impetus. What had been an end to end contest trundled into a war of attrition, but Harrogate’s threat remained throughout. 

Minute by minute in the second half, City players seemed to lose their confidence. Levi Sutton had a very poor 45 minutes, where he gave the ball away often. Tyler French and Connor Wood were less composed in possession and reluctant to go forward – perhaps fearful of their opposite full backs counter attacking. Clarke struggled to find room to operate. Watt wasn’t up to the same high standards he has shown this season. Novak and Donaldson were increasingly feeding on scraps. 

McCall wants City to play out from the back, which is commendable. But as Harrogate pressed high up the pitch, home defenders would be rushed into rash clearances that routinely gifted possession straight back to the visitors. The plan, whatever it had been, seemed to be lost along the way. If a City crowd had been allowed into Valley Parade, it would have turned on the team. Harrogate smelt blood, and eventually took their opportunity. 

“The best team won,” admitted McCall, before vowing there would be “no panic or knee-jerk reaction”. Nevertheless this is a test of his management skills, as he seeks to revive a squad that will want to lay low for a few days. 

Criticism will come pouring in from all corners, making this a long week for the players, coaching staff and management team. There is little they can do other than take their medicine. Accept they will be written off. It’s about how they react from this. 

To be out-played and out-thought by a newly promoted side is one thing, but it was the obvious sense of fear and panic in the players that will surely be the biggest concern to McCall. In front of a national TV audience, they froze. Faced with an opposition stronger in quality and sense of purpose than the previous three league opponents, they had no answer.   

There is a long, long way to go in the season – but on this evidence, the level of improvement needed from City is huge. 

Categories: Match Reviews

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26 replies

  1. Bradford City now have a chance to make a marquee signing, a signing that will make a statement. A signing that has claret & amber in his blood. Who has just come available & who we desperately need.

    Time for Bradford City AFC to send a SOS to the one & only David Baldwin.

    David Baldwin if your listening we even have prepared a little song for you;

    David Baldwin come home,
    Midland road,
    To the place that you belong,
    To the valley,
    To see the city,
    David Baldwin come home,
    Midland road…

  2. The difference between the two sides?

    One manager has been there 10 years it’s his players & squad. His system & tactics. His plans of how the football department work.

    The other manager been back 10 months including covid. The strikers weren’t signed by him & defenders majority not his signings. Only been able to fix midfield so far. So not all his players or squad. Hasn’t had time to implement a football structure.

    Conclusion one manger has been given time to build something which is showing results. The other needs to be given time to build something.

    Tonight shows if you have long term planning what can be achieved. If you keep thinking short term & change frequently you’ll never improve for a sustained period of time.

    • Let’s get real the owner has no interest he’s wants out ,but wants his investment back and is bit by bit his getting it out ,that’s why what you saw last night is probably on par with the investment gone into the playing squad this season on every signing we all thought ok a Squad player where’s the big signings but they never arrived and to cap it all off with a very raw striker with no league experience said it all about the club’s ambition this season ,at best on what we saw last night mid table and I worry we will struggle at the lower end of the table ,totally unacceptable it’s lucky for the owner there is no crowd in or it would torn toxic .

  3. I would love for Stuart to succeed. However, I’ve been critical of this year’s recruitment and it’s worth noting that five players in the starting lineup were his signings. I thought prudence was a factor but that was blown away by the signing of Gareth Evans. I’m quite puzzled as to why he put so much money re. wages into signing him? After tonight’s performance it is even more puzzling.

  4. The team / squad started the season with a modicum of self-belief and confidence but what is alarming is that this is draining away and it feels like a repeat of previous seasons where team morale starts to fall apart. I have massive sympathy for Stuart McCall and remain confident that he is entirely capable of motivating his players but I do not envy his task and the pressure he is being put under.

    What is utterly depressing is the ritual outpouring of venom and anger on social media from the same predictable individuals looking for scapegoats in the wake of another dreadful defeat. No opportunity is missed to criticise the club and its staff when things go wrong and no quarter is given. The same individuals congratulate themselves on how clever they were to have predicted failure all along and you get the distinct impression that they enjoy their opportunity to boast. Whilst it vents their spleens, the #ruppout #rhodesout demands provide no further insight or suggestions as to how a turnaround could be achieved if indeed the club got a new owner or CEO (as if either could miraculously change things overnight).

    There is little wonder that Stuart struggles to recruit players. His targets can do their own research about the state of affairs at BCAFC. How many decent players want to risk their careers and reputations at Valley Parade where the club goes from crisis to crisis? Perceptions of the club from what has happened over the last few years can hardly be positive.

    A good number of players use Twitter and see for themselves the full extent of the toxic exchanges. Neither was the Sky broadcast a fantastic advert for the club. Hence it is not surprising that team morale becomes fragile and confidence undermined and maybe it is a blessing in disguise that there is no-one in the ground to barrack the players.

    Harrogate had a number of better players but they benefited from a feelgood factor of their players having been successful together as a team. With the best will in the world Stuart cannot inject that with a couple of new signings. Arguably his predecessors discovered the same.

    Everyone has the right to criticise but surely this is also the moment when supporters have to back the club and allow the manager to do his job, accepting that this is going to be a long haul and manage their expectations. Do the critics of Stuart McCall really believe that BCAFC is an attractive career opportunity for new candidates? The most vocal critics say that they criticise the club in the way they do because they love Bradford City. I am sure that they do.

  5. John,

    It’s rare I comment on here, but I feel bound to respond.

    You point out frequently the abuse on social media, the direct Twitter messages, the criticism of the club, the lack of constructive criticism and so on I think your comments have some validity from time to time, but in my opinion you’re not above the odd divisive comment yourself. Like I say, my opinion.

    Your post contradicts itself, you say changing owner or CEO won’t change things, yet in the next paragraph say the club goes from crisis to crisis. The last three proper managers, Grayson, Hopkin and Bowyer have failed and frankly I don’t see Stuart here next season unless there is a dramatic improvement on the pitch, performances against Lincoln and last night were not good enough.

    You say nobody offers insight into how a turnaround can be achieved, yet those who say for example an effective backroom set up of scouting may help are derided. Would effective recruitment have prevented millions being squandered on players who find themselves now in non-league or out of contract? Who knows eh, but the fans are wrong.

    The apparent lack of vision, visibility and communication or Julian and Stefan are pointed out, but no, that’s what they want to do. It’s the fans who are wrong.

    We don’t hear what you would do though John. What would YOU do? You frequently criticise those who don’t share your views here, on Twitter and presumably elsewhere, but you don’t say how you would fix the problems at the club. You’re a business turnaround specialist John, what’s on your priority list on day one as CEO?

    So how would you sort this out? You criticise others for not offering solutions. From the play off final to today the club has been in a mess on and off the pitch in one form or another. Five managers, countless players and who knows how many millions of pounds later the club is in the bottom half of the bottom division.

    You say players and agents do their own research before joining. Do the fans really contribute to the state of affairs at VP? Did the fans appoint Michael Collins, sign unsuitable players on large multi season contracts? Release goal scorers without adequate replacements in January and then sack the manager shortly afterwards?

    You ask how many players, managers too, want to risk their reputations at VP when the club goes from crisis to crisis? A good question, but who is responsible for the club going from crisis to crisis? The fans on social media? Why does the club lurch from crisis to crisis? Is it wrong that the fans think the club exists from season to season without apparent long term thought? Is it wrong that fans see perhaps 10-20 clubs promoted to the EFL in the last two decades higher in the league and for them to ask why Bradford City are in the position they are?

    You say Stuart cannot inject togetherness into this team, the squad is about half his signings though.

    No fan of Bradford City wants to see the club fail, to prove themselves right or not. But in my opinion you criticise others for offering no solutions but fail to offer any yourself. How would you turnaround the sinking ship that is Bradford City.

    • Graeme, I shall reply in turn to your comments.

      In any situation of corporate failure it is easy to be critical of failings but sometimes you need to look for positives and adopt a glass half-full approach. I can assure you that I can find fault with matters at VP but prefer instead to be constructive rather than dismissive (as is the vogue among many supporters).

      The first priority would be to manage expectations that BCAFC is not going to be fixed overnight and that means a shared understanding among all stakeholders – including the supporters – about what is the art of the possible. Given the likelihood that any new regime is not going to be blessed with boundless resources it means making the best of what is available, prioritising but ultimately managing expectations.

      If resources were available you could invest in a recruitment network, training facilities and backroom staff but even then it will take time for these to deliver. In the meantime it would be a matter of making the best of what was available and being open minded.

      I believe that the club / JR has failed to communicate what was actually achieved in the absence of a benefactor prior to 2016. BCAFC was managed on a shoestring yet had a squad capable of challenging for promotion to the next level. JR and ML realised that they did not have the resources to bankroll a promotion attempt and realised the need to sell the club in order to realise that ambition.

      Clearly that sale did not work out and in the final event the last three years have demonstrated that the club was built on weak foundations and handicapped by chronic historic under-investment (that cannot be made good overnight). Since 2016 £0.6m has been invested by BCAFC in capital expenditure and you could probably spend five times that amount to get to a decent standard of infrastructure.

      I won’t comment on Rahic’s actions and the appointment of Collins etc but I think we can all agree that it has set in place the negative dynamic to which I refer above.

      In the circumstances – and in the context of the C19 situation – there are few options for the management of the club in the absence of a benefactor stepping in (the chances of which I believe to be minimal to say the least). What worked pre 2016 was the financial strategy adopted by JR/ML and it has the basis of an operating model going forward. Pre 2016 the club was broadly break-even, without external debt and covered operating losses through transfer revenues/bonuses and tight financial control. Rivals such as Wigan or even Sunderland racked up massive losses to fuel ambition but that was not an option for JR or ML. Whether through luck or otherwise their strategy got us to a Wembley cup final and close to the Championship. In the medium term there is potential for the academy to realise further revenue. In the new world of C19 in which the football bubble has burst, all clubs will have to be self-sufficient to a greater extent than before so it is a strategy that has considerable merit.

      If you look at the history of the club there has been a consistent failure to be successful with big name signings. My suspicion is that more often than not the club has panicked and signed headline transfers to appease fans and sell season tickets which is what I would avoid, albeit necessitating the building of trust with supporters to explain the recruitment logic.

      On the other hand there has been more success with home grown players or hungry individuals signed from lower division clubs. My focus would be on such players but I would also commit to introducing some stability in the backroom and not sacking managers every nine months. We can deceive ourselves that BCAFC is a big club but it isn’t. We can also deceive ourselves about perceptions of Bradford but the fact is that neither the club not city is an attractive proposition for many players. I sympathise with Stuart’s difficulties to recruit. As part of my bigger vision for player development and succession I would focus very much on youth and home grown players – which has incidentally also generated £9m of revenue for the club in the last ten years through sales. Stuart McCall would be an ideal person to develop younger players if given chance.

      As regards the specific examples of Doyle and Vaughan, neither wanted to be at the club. Period. In an ideal world they would have been retained and provided an effective goalscoring solution for the club but we don’t live in an ideal world and hard decisions had to be made.

      I don’t believe that the club has helped itself in the last three years with lack of communication by SR and JR although I believe that Ryan Sparks has made a positive impact and was it not for C19, there’d have probably been supporter forums at VP. The communication has to be improved – of that there is no dispute – because it is the basis of building trust, again a priority for any new CEO. However the communication issue works both ways. The fans can demand transparency, accountability and all the rest from management but equally the club should expect its staff to be treated with decency by supporters. No CEO would tolerate his/her company’s customers abusing its representatives and yet that is what we see on social media daily with no opportunity missed for people to condemn the manager, players and officials at VP.

      I have no idea what is your line of work (well i suspect I do) but I doubt very much that you could perform to your potential if you faced incessant criticism and online abuse yet that is what the individuals at VP face and in turn, it wears them down and demoralises them. You could see for yourself a collapse in morale among the team members last night relative to the start of the season. Surely if we support the club we should try and get behind it to achieve shared objectives. That is not about happy clapping, it is about constructive support and also being responsible/civil online. My memory is of the post-85 rebuilding of the club and the unity and sense of purpose then that is sadly lacking now.

      You refer to clubs joining the EFL and rising above us. As we saw last night with Harrogate, and Lincoln previously, success breads success and confidence develops its own momentum. Sadly we are experiencing the complete opposite and hardly surprising we have been overtaken.

      It leads us then to the issue of ownership. SR could have cut and run and had that been the case the club would have been bust, insolvent, stuffed etc. Hence he has sustained the club and by paying wages over the last two winters kept it alive. The ideal scenario is for a new owner to be found but what investment case is there in the current climate for a buyer to pay the asking price and have funds left over to invest in the club. For sure we can suggest that SR writes off his investment but I would resent someone instructing me how to deal with my family’s inheritance and my personal wealth. At some point SR will have to make that decision but the grass might not be greener on the other side for ourselves. What sort of buyer will we get? Maybe a professional Chinese gambler or a Saudi prince?

      As regards being CEO of BCAFC, JR is looking to step down in the near term and a successor appointed. Much as though I am committed to the club and have a good understanding of its affairs there is not a cat in hell’s chance that I would want to do the job even if I was considered suitable. One of the reasons that JR doesn’t do the public speaking stuff is that it is a thankless task to be consistently and continually criticised. It is one thing to have the responsibility of keeping the show on the road, quite another to deal with the endless criticism and barbs that are targeted in his direction. I wouldn’t put myself or my family through it and wouldn’t have the patience to deal with it.

      So Graeme, sorry Bill, what is your big turnaround plan? I appreciate that your TCA chums have asked you to respond to my post whilst they concentrate on the vote rigging, but tell us what would you do to deal with the situation?

      • Hi Jon
        Good to see somebody has a realistic view of Bradford City AFC….at the end of the day we are a small club in a run down City where nobody wants to invest. Least of all the football club .Even its “supporters” dont want to pay the going rate for a season ticket.
        Its been like this for as long as i can remember…with the one occasion when a minor millionaire got us to the Premier League only to implode…not even a Chinese gambler would take us on .
        At least Harrogate Town have got a millionaire owner who wants to make something of the club

      • The non league recruitment route certainly has merits. It seems to be the go to option for Accie Stanley and obviously Peterborough scout well in that area. Interesting to note that Josh Falkingham at 30 has had plenty of setbacks and a career to date playing at a very modest level. He certainly played like a man with summat to prove and edged Watt on the night.Its obviously a risk (think Hannah/Speight/Neilson) but not as potentially catastrophic as the big money signings which bomb (Hopkin/McClean/McGinley just for starters). Its not just City who limit the potential with plenty of footballers ( pre covid) continuing to pick up fresh contracts despite underperforming consistently season after season. Must be plenty of gems out there

  6. For Sale – Football Club, patchy history, no assets apart from long term lease of ground which needs urgent TLC. Low income & no future windfall sell on clauses. Due to negligence of current ownership now mid-table tier 4 of EFL, rather than cusp of Tier 2 when purchased. Offers in excess of original purchase price required… if this was an advert for a 2nd hand car that had been screwed by its previous owner you would be walking away. Yet Rupp wants his brass back? He needs to be realistic. What he bought and what he owns now is not the same football club and he, Julian Rhodes & Mr.IKF have no one else to blame.

    While he and the invisible CEO & owner are in charge nothing will change and the fan base have nothing positive to buy into. This season could be a long hard struggle. It will be easy for fans to turn off the PC/TV and stop watching the club.I really worry for the future of our club under the current ownership & CEO.

  7. With regards to the game, it was a very poor night in every department. Only Richard O’Donnell comes out with any credit after his excellent first half save.

    I’m concerned though that Stuart stuck with the diamond for the full 90. It was clear pretty early on that it was probably the worst system to play against Harrogate with considering how high they press and how dependant they are on their overlapping fullbacks. We didn’t get to grips with it all night and it’s no surprise that the goal came from a cross.

    Our ball retention was horrendous, not just in midfield but throughout the team. We did the basics all wrong, with their number 4, Falkingham, winning every second ball in the middle of the park. Stead’s hold up play was just as good as I remember it to be, which is one thing which we were sorely missing. Due to their high press, we ended up launching it too often and neither Donaldson or Novak held the ball up, aside from one flick for Cooke by the former. That and the chronic lack of pace and mobility upfront saw a turnover in possesion when we went long more often than not.

    I was surprised when I saw the teamsheet last week vs Wolves, considering we had the weekend off and didn’t then play again for another 6 days. After the 6 month layoff players and managers alike have been saying how it will be 10 games or so until players build up their match sharpness, so to see us play the kids last week was bizarre. Last night looked like a team who hadn’t played together for two weeks (three weeks in the case of Anthony O’Connor). I think this was a big mistake on McCall’s part and may account for the sloppiness and lack of fitness last night.

    If, as McCall says, our business is now done, then I’m concerned. The lack of wide options at the club is alarming and limits the formations we can play to probably only the diamond or the 3-5-2 without having to play players out of position and/or inadequate players. Ismail is perennially injured and Mottley-Henry still hasn’t justifed his signing. Evans has been brought into play centrally, as he should considering that’s where he mainly played for Portsmouth and I’m not convinced on Pritchard as a wide man. The lack of a ball winning midfielder and a winger with pace and flair have been glaring deficiencies since last season ended, yet we still have neither and last night further emphasised that fact.

    • Totally agree with these sentiments , just a thought Stuart is well respected around the footballing world , and mainly Everton and Rangers , isnt there any decent players at these two to be had on loan for a season or two ?

  8. It was a bad day at the office, that is all we can be sure of at this stage of the season. Extreme knee-jerks, I either direction, are just that, and we need to give it a few more games before resorting to unhelpful pile-ons. There are things to learn from this game, as I’m sure Stuart and Kenny will, as is the case with any game whatever the result.

    It is irrelevant that it was Harrogate, and good luck to them they played well and deserved to win. The idea that there is some sort of constant pecking order, and that we should feel more aggrieved by losses to certain teams because of respective histories makes a nonsense of the entire concept of the football system. In a way there is something to be celebrated about such a system, although obviously not about last night’s result in particular.

    One point I would like to pick up on in the – excellent as ever – article is the one about Harrogate having only just been promoted to L2. My other team is Grimsby, and it took a few years before Town could escape from the National League back to the EFL. I can report that it’s a very tough division, with only two places up for grabs, and it takes a pretty decent team to gain promotion, so we shouldn’t be surprised at how good Harrogate are, we should expect it.

  9. I agree completely with Adam that SM’s decision to play a second string team against Wolves was bizarre as it was the perfect opportunity to assess his proposed team and tactics for Harrogate. In the event it didn’t work he would have had a further 6 days to tinker. I really want Stuart to succeed but at times he doesn’t help himself.

  10. Just a quick site update.

    Today I’ve received emails from a few readers unhappy about the tone and personal attacks of the reader comments for WOAP articles, which are quite a bit removed from the way the debate has traditionally been.

    As a result, I’ve reluctantly taken the decision to change the site settings, so all comments now have to be moderated and approved before they appear on the site. It’s not something I frankly want to spend my time having to do, but we are where we are.

    Up until now, any user commenting for the first time had to have their comment moderated, mainly as a defence against spam attempts. But after getting that first approval, they could subsequently post comments that went live straight away unchecked. The comments have generally worked well self-policing, and I haven’t had to step in too many times. Unfortunately, this approach just isn’t working anymore.

    I don’t want to create any false impression of thought policing the comments going forward. WOAP has been going for just short of nine years now, and over that time we’ve published more than 12,000 comments. I’ve disagreed with thousands of them, and will continue to publish comments whether I agree or disagree. However, recent events have shown we need to set some standards in place. So in future all comments will be judged on;

    – Is the comment attacking another individual in a personal way? This includes attacks of fellow WOAP readers, other City supporters, players, staff and manager.

    Disagreement is great and constructive arguments can lead to good outcomes, but the comments need to about the topic not the personality. Criticism should be fair and constructive.

    In addition, the measurement mechanics I have available through the software I use conclusively show that some users are marking down reader comments multiple times – eg pressing the thumbs down option for a comment they don’t like repeatedly. One user has done it over 50 times today. This is a disappointing approach that creates unfair distortion – also, let’s be frank, it’s pretty pathetic behaviour. I don’t plan to go back to taking the thumbs up/down options off again like I had to do a few months ago. But I will be keeping an eye on it.

    Without getting preachy, I’ve worked a lot over the past nine years to create and maintain a website that has consistently strong readership numbers. And there’s just a few too many people of late contacting me to say the comment section is rapidly going downhill. Some even adding they are reluctant to post any more because they fear the reaction it might get.

    I think it’s fantastic when an article produces lots of comments and I don’t want to discourage that. I really enjoy facilitating a platform for constructive argument. But we need to get the standards higher again. Everyone deserves and can have a say – but let’s be civil. Please.

    • This is the best Bradford City website going around.

      The club doesn’t have a chat room anymore like it used to. So naturally people come on here to share the views on Bradford City A.F.C.

      Discussion & debate is great to have, like you all of us don’t agree with certain opinions of others but it’s good to have different views.

      I don’t agree with this “Is the comment attacking another individual in a personal way? This includes attacks of fellow WOAP readers, other City supporters, players, staff and manager.”

      Yes, no need to attack personally. In relation to the club surely it’s ok if discussion takes place on poor performance, direction of club?

      At the end of the day 99% on here reading because they want what’s best for Bradford City A.F.C.

      The reason they choose this website is because it’s the best one in my opinion for Bradford City matters.

      If I had journalism background I would love to write article on here to open up discussion & debate.

      Keep up the good work it’s very much appreciated. ❤️

      • Thanks for your kind words Zane.

        To be clear, you’re absolutely right that it’s okay to discuss poor performance on and off the field. Being critical is good. It’s just not overstepping the mark and moving into personal abuse, which sadly is what a few people have done. I’ve had to delete several comments this week because of it.

        You are always very welcome to submit articles as well if you fancy a go.


  11. For me the fans need something to get behind.
    Next summer provides the ideal opportunity to have a clean sweep. Only seven of the current squad will be under contract, McCall and Kenny will also be out of contract.
    In addition we are told that Julian Rhodes is ready to move on.
    Stefan Rupp has to be implored to sell too, ideally to a consortium or individual who is going to give the club the due care and attention that it deserves.

    A new owner and a new forward thinking CEO who can put a long term plan in place are vital. Something that the fans can get behind. Then appoint a scouting, coaching and playing staff appropriately.

    Now is time that it has to happen because without it we will continue to drift backwards towards the abyss.

    • I think we could all get behind that as an outcome. A reluctant owner and stop gap CEO is nobodies idea of a healthy scenario. However finding a credible buyer in the current economic climate and a new CEO who can operate in such a niche industry is not going to be easy. Last night was a bitter pill to swallow but as has been suggested above Htfc are 11 years down a well financed and stable strategy whilst we are back at year zero.
      Silver linings …some really promising youngsters to build a team around and despite the current rancour a large and committed fanbase.
      What should be clear to all is that unwarranted criticism (on occasions defamatory ) and personal abuse of the owner /JR/RS is only going to harm the club and make the task that bit more difficult. Did we not learn how successful the club could be under PP with a real unity of purpose.

  12. Ps: Great report, Jason. Spot on.

  13. I think some City fans need a reality check. Some clubs are weeks away from going bust, hopefully not City. Now is the time to batten down the hatches and make sure we have a club at the end of this C19. It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t get into VP this season through no individuals fault. But to constantly be negative doesn’t help. We may made need our current owner to underwrite a lot of costs this year and we are lucky in that he has the resources to see us through this, presuming he wants to and doesn’t get fed up with the criticism.

  14. We lose a game and suddenly the sky has fallen. We played OK. Harrogate played better. Two great chances missed and a VAR penalty ignored. As always, we will not go through the season unbeaten. Yet the keyboard warriors want to change the manager again.

  15. I have not been on here for a while. Can I just say that the way to avoid all the social media hate is not to read it – I look at this site and that’s it.

    And the reason I do that is for the great articles (Jason, as usual) and reasoned debate – the comments I’ve seen have been a good read.

    Look we are where we are. We have been a shambles since the New Year 2018 (?), from the Yeovil cup game more or less. There is nothing we can do about that now.

    I lived in Harrogate for 18 years (5-23) and never watched Town – they aren’t that club any more. They have stuck with their manager and they have lots of money and they invested it well. They can buy players from Celtic, whereas we pick up youngsters on loan – that’s where we are – we have to live with it.

    I don’t think we played well last night but they did – full credit. I was baffled by the tactics but Cooke scores as he should have and who knows! What you can’t do, is view City on last night – we have to give them time – and for me, that is the whole season (unless we look like being relegated, which I hope and don’t think will happen).

  16. I think a lot of the reaction (overreaction?) is down to the fact that we saw yet another Yorkshire team appearing to be on an upward trajectory whilst we continue to muddle on. Both Stuart and Billy Clarke eluded to the fact before the match that it wasn’t easy for City fans to see us playing Harrogate in a League match and for our self esteem, I think we needed to see us put the new boys in their place on Monday but they well and truly mullered us in so many ways (tactical, organisation, physical strength, will to win etc)
    Having been a City fan for many years I know only too well this is sadly what to expect – but it is not easy seeing us continually slip down the pecking order. We occasional get spells when we see ‘what could be’ but I think Monday was just another kick in the nuts when many of us were hoping we would stand up and put in a performance that meant we could at least hold our heads a little higher in the local football hierarchy.
    PS all credit to Harrogate who looked a very motivated team and definitely potential to be up there this season

  17. The fact that many of us half expected the result on Monday says much about our present state.
    Whilst we cannot deny that the reason for our defeat what that Harrogate have gone down a long and constant planned route up the football pyramid we are currently falling steeply in the opposite trajectory.
    Momentum, confidence, swagger, team spirit, organisation, and the ability for the players to know their own roles cannot be minimised and Harrogate are currently able to use all of these factors to their advantage.
    We have see the same from Accrington version 2, Fleetwood, Wycombe, and others that have appeared in the league and used those qualities to propel themselves upwards, passing established league clubs along the way.
    But as far as City are concerned we might just survive the next few weeks which in the short term might just represent success this season.
    I have a great respect for Andy Holt, the Chairman/owner of Accrington Stanley.
    He forecasts that several lower league clubs may well not make it into the new year.
    If we believe what we are told we are not one of them.
    The nett result could be a real shake up of English football with regionalisation, less clubs in less divisions, and even part time professional clubs becoming the new `norm` when Covid eventually allows.
    Success could be measured by still existing in 2021.
    I know certain fans will look on this as a `gomper` stating `well at least we have a club to support`.
    Its not that at all. The reality is that football at the lower level ha been living on borrowed time and `Covid` could be looked upon as the straw that broke the camels back, or an opportunity to have a major reboot of Engish football.
    And a chance for Bradford Citys recent demise to bottom out and to start to climb back towards respectability.

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