Bradford City nil

Bradford City 0
Scunthorpe United 0

By Adam Raj

In the most predictable event to happen in this strangest of strange seasons, Bradford City drew yet another blank. Yet another blank at home to make it four successive games at Valley Parade without scoring. And in that time, City have amassed a measly nine shots on target, five of which came against Crawley Town last month.

It’s a truly dire record for a football club that has been starved of attacking and positive intent for too long.

This afternoon’s encounter saw a matchup between two sides in equally poor form. Scunthorpe’s slump, however, was much more alarming given their proximity to the drop zone. A point was all they needed to ensure safety and send Southend into the National League. A point they needed and a point they were evidently set up to achieve from the first minute.

Sadly, City approached the game with the same mindset. A mindset that, with nothing to play for, is hard to fathom. It was another free hit for a City side whose season ended weeks ago. The fact that goalkeeper Sam Hornby was man of the match in a game at home, to a side who have conceded 15 goals in six games, tells its own story. It is an increasingly worrying theme ahead of next season.

Fresh from their ‘experimentation’ at Port Vale, Trueman and Sellars once again elected to go with the 4-2-3-1 that started the Salford defeat in midweek. The only change saw Lee Novak start ahead of Andy Cook. And for the most part, Novak, like his teammate Cook, was isolated and struggled to make an impact. It was a change that had little effect on the general set up of the team. The general cautious and dull set up that we have been accustomed to watching over the last few months.

Charles Vernam, as he was on Tuesday, was City’s biggest attacking threat, not that the bar was set particularly high. His early run, latching onto a Levi Sutton pass drew City’s first chance of the game as he forced a decent save from Mark Howard. But that was as exciting as the first half got for City as they let it drift by, again failing to impose themselves on obviously weak opposition. Those watching on iFollow would have been forgiven for nodding off.

Despite their obvious deficiencies, Scunthorpe, as Salford did midweek, created the best chances in either half. Gareth Evans lost Alfie Beestin from Alex Gilliead’s in-swinging corner but the midfielder somehow managed to head wide from six yards out. It was one of those that looked easier to score. And in the second half, a fatigued Paudie O’Connor was easily brushed aside by a fresh Ryan Loft and the striker went one on one with Hornby, who produced a fantastic block to deny the striker.

City meanwhile, dallied, dawdled and struggled to do even the basics. The possession stats may look favourably upon City. But as has far too often been the case, that possession was in all the wrong areas. It took until stoppage time for City to create anything worthwhile. A good run from Vernam down the left saw his low cross narrowly missed by the stretching Clayton Donaldson.

Creating chances has been something that City have struggled with all season. Their deficiencies in front of goal have been there since day one. Even when Trueman and Sellars were on that fantastic run of form, it was built around clinical finishing rather than creating lots of chances. Now that the conversion rate in front of goal has predictably dropped, games have become stale and dull affairs.

City are apt at keeping the ball in the defensive third and controlling the game from that area. But as soon as the ball is required to go forwards, their weaknesses begin to unravel.

Often, both O’Connors play the ball between themselves before a pass back to the goalkeeper to launch up field. On the majority of occasions, this results in a loss of possession and City begin to retreat into their ultra-deep defensive shape.

City seem incapable of passing the ball, with pace, between the lines and are so deep that the lone striker has no support on the rare occasion they win the long ball. The team, as a whole, is far too static and everything is seemingly done at a snail’s pace.

An argument can be made to say that the players available to Trueman and Sellars aren’t good enough. But the general negative and conservative approach to games, even when there is nothing to play for, suggests the issues run deeper.

Whilst the joint managers have built up a lot of credit for their efforts in ensuring survival, there is very little to get behind ahead of next season, with Trueman and Sellars once again failing to capitalise on an opportunity to show the City faithful that they can produce something that resembles attacking football.

Categories: Match Reviews

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32 replies

  1. That was about as bad as it gets. I lost count of the number of times we gave Scunthorpe the ball. Control of the ball was none existent. Evans was by far the worst player in every respect. How on earth did he manage to stay on? What does it say about the rest of them/

    Sorry boys it just isn’t good enough. Experience elsewhere tells me that joint managers (of anything, not just football teams) never work. Someone just has to take charge and I suspect (and hope) it won’t be either of these two. Thanks but no thanks

  2. Sparkes has to act and axe these two. This style of football is just not acceptable. Personally after 42 seasons following the club I cannot commit to a ST and watch another 23 home games of utterly negative side ways passes followed by hoof it long to a lone striker.

    I really don’t see how this style of football is a blueprint for next season. Unless these 2 are removed from the front line then expect more of the same negative brand of football with a dwindling fan base. The fans deserve so much more than the crap that’s been served up this season. Disillusioned doesn’t come close.

  3. Scunthorpe conceded something like 16 goals in the last 5 games and we still can’t score against another very poor side!!!

    With these 2 (3 if you include sparks) in charge we’ll be facing yet another relegation battle next season!!

    Absolutely no idea between them!!

    I’d be seriously worried about ST if I was the chairman I can tell you!!

    I predict 6-7k sales at best! and then that begs the question about how sustainable cheap season tickets are going forward.

    Without SERIOUS investment this club is on a downward spiral!!

  4. Reading between the lines on your article you are in the same mindset has me .We need to let go of our joint management team who are clearly out of there depth. It’s not working, change it now and give us something to hang on to .If you do not ,you will see a further decline in season ticket sales .The football is dire and hard to watch.Football is about entertainment not this negative tactics of been scared to loose ,so don’t waste another season it will put us back 10 years .

  5. Today was very poor. Scunthorpe came for a point but imo they should have had all 3. Trueman and Sellars can say what they like, I could see nothing from that performance. Kovac was often left isolated up front. Substitutions did very little to change the negativity on the pitch.
    I was concerned with the level of fitness. Paudie looked dead on the pitch.
    I am not looking forward to next season. No level of recruitment can change the fact if the fitness, tactics and team selection are wrong, the results will be poor.
    What is the answer? The management duo has taken us as far as they can. I am worried that entrusting them to get the summer recruitment right is a big ask. I believe we need experience and someone with a proven record that is developing and not on the wain. It cannot be last minute. He has to start now.
    We seem to be in a phase of sacking and recruiting replacement managers but I feel there is no alternative.
    Sparks needs to act quickly and decisively. We need the fans onside and judging by forums there are very few positive comments.

  6. The most amazing thing about todays set-up and perfomance is that there are TWO people thinking that this was the right way to set up and play. You would think at least one of them would say “well these are on a truly awful run, we have nowt to play for and we haven’t seen how some of the lads operate in a more attacking formation and intent. So why not go for it?”. Hearing Sellars post match interview he sounded ridiculous defending this result and performance. Praising Evans for tracking back shows all their intent in games for me. Don’t want to be ‘ageist’ but he sounded inexperienced, cliched, and out of his depth. The team picked was ‘stubborness’ at its most extreme. Absolute dire and shocking 1st half performance and got marginally better when we went to 2 up top and allowed Vernam to play on the side of his natural footing. I just cannot fathom their thinking before the match and then standing there watching that. They needed a result and that was put before trying alternatives or players to see what they can do in a meaningless game. They are in for a rude awakening when fans are allowed back in serving up this dross and i fear for season ticket sales and thus a chance to get better quality players in the building. And what forward in their right mind will sign for us if they see these tactics?I don’t want managers sacked but their team selection, approach and formation today defied logic for me and they are bringing this on themselves. Unbelievable Jeff.

  7. They’re done.

    We know it, Sparks knows it, and seemingly the players know it too. T&S must be in denial because if they suspected it then they’d be throwing everything at trying to get a bounce from the players, and you don’t get a better opportunity than today.

    No managers survive this kind of end of season form and go into the following season. For a team wanting to get promotion next season, this isn’t good enough. There are not enough promising signs and are no foundations upon which to build. You don’t watch us and think “this set up, with a few quality additions in the summer, will be up there next year.” We did up until Newport away, but everything has given way from below.

    If they walk away now then they will be remembered as the guys who stepped up and kept us up. If somehow they go into next season then they’ll be gone by October and so will our season, and we’ll be forced to watch a repeat of this season; writing off another year as part of the next leg in our downward cycle.

    If Sparks is serious about arresting the decline and not accepting mediocrity then he needs to be doing his planning now, and then doing what needs to be done after the Morecambe game. If he’d given M&S a contract until the end of the season only, then there is no way he’d be extending it right now. The only way they stay on over the summer is if he can’t face admitting he got it wrong with the 18 month deal. But if that’s the case then the fans will tell him right enough when they are allowed back into the ground.

    • the contract offer was naive tbf. They would have accepted a contract until the end of the season. Who in their position wouldn’t?

      • Yes Danny I’m afraid our CEO got it wrong again. After getting it wrong with Stuart it was right to try T+S but just to the end of the season guys surely!

        All right what’s done is done, moving on its got to be an experienced Manager like Parky.
        Hopefully Turnbull is doing his research and has a dossier the size of an Encyclopaedia ready for the next Manager.

        Parky anyone?

  8. In brief because the message is simple: if the Chief Executive cannot see his two appointees are not up the job then he himself is part of the problem. I don’t intend to make the point again. If you need to be told, Mr Sparks, you will never know

  9. Ten years ago we had Phil Parkinson who brought in James Meredith, Kyle Reid and Andy Davis. What have we got now? No wingers, no full backs, and no prospect of getting out of the Fourth Division. Let’s thank T&S and get a manager in who has some vision.

    • If I was in Ryan Sparks shoes I would be speaking to a certain Mr Parkinson. If he has any hope of selling a decent amount of ST’s next season then this is his best option imo.

  10. These two put negativity and protecting a result well above entertaining the fans.
    They could have been lauded at the end of the season had they set the team.up to ‘have a go’ once we were safe. Instead the vast majority of fans have fallen out of love with them and their achievement in keeping us up is lost in the mists of recent results. They have been fortunate in that no crowds were in VP.
    They have done nothing to sell season tickets.or carrying the right kind of momentum season.
    I fully expect Ryan to say “Thanks but no thanks” Saturdays game.

  11. I’m not really a fan of sacking managers when things get tough but I simply cannot watch anymore of this style of football! Living in Sydney means watching matches at 12am or 4am so to get up specially for each match and see this crap served up is very hard to take. It really winds me up to see balls continually being played between players in our own half, backwards, sidewards, backwards some more, sideways again for no reason whatsoever then back to the keeper to hoof and lose possession. How on earth T&S can even begin to think this is going to be acceptable to City fans is beyond belief! I don’t care anymore that they seemingly saved us as in my eyes now I only see how they’ve completely flushed this season down the toilet! If you do both get sacked – you will only have yourselves to blame as even the players look thoroughly bored of this football too! I for one do not trust that you two being in charge over summer and involved in recruitment will bring any good fortune next season.
    I also think Evans was the laziest man on the field yesterday and he stood out for me as being there in body but not in spirit so I’m not sure what Sellars is banging on about? Absolutely cheesed off and that’s putting it mildly! Not to mention that six games ago I was looking forward to grabbing $2500 of Sportsbet’s cash next week so that’s not helping with anger management either!!! Aaargghh!

  12. What struck me about today’s event (I can’t really use the word performance), was the slow and ponderous build up of any moves (decides not to use the word movement). I have a turntable for LP’s, wonderful machine. LP’s were meant to be played at 33.3rpm. If you play an LP at 30 rpm, then it will sound weird, out of sync. For me that seems to be the best analogy I can come up with. City are always ‘off the beat’, the syncopation is not there, the high notes are stretched, the beat is not keeping time, the solos are ponderous and slightly out of tune, the bass lines are not driving!

    These is a sad lack of imagination, creativity, spontaneity, pace, etc. The number of passes which get played wide, so Vernam or Evans (sadly past his sell by date), are having it hit too high, slightly behind or directly at them, so they lose momentum.

    Today was woeful. It wasn’t insomnia inducing, rather it was an event which created waking nightmares.

    Thanks for the fish T&S, but time for you to return to coaching the youth (hopefully with an eye to playing forward passes) and sadly for City to look again for a new manager. The sooner the better.

  13. Trueman and Sellars need to realise that you cannot fool fans.
    The post match analysis of recent games has been a joke including today.
    They said we had most of the possession recently but most of it was passing across the edge of our own box. City seem to do this ad nauseum until either AOD or POD decide to launch an aimless long ball for Cook to try and win (Not his game) or a diagonal ball to Vernam usually. This then goes back to Evans usually and back to AOD or POD to have another go.
    The Fans are there to be entertained.
    These two dont seem to realise that.

  14. A few days ago I responded to the club’s questionnaire on season tickets and ground admission. I was quite willing to accept the proposition that season tickets should be priced realistically. The club can’t continue forever to run on a “discount “ shop basis. However, we are being treated to “discount” football and have been for more than a year. Poor quality play at an individual level; poor performance collectively; abysmal tactical decisions. No strategic view of how to move beyond what we currently have on the pitch. And, what we have isn’t worth watching. Messrs Sparks and Rupp need to act fast, before it’s too late to convince people that the quality of what will be on offer will be worth it.

  15. I always try to find the positives but, I’m afraid to say, I can’t find any either from today or the previous 7 or so matches. The last decent performance was against a Forest Green team who were just at the start of a terrible run themselves.

    The performance yesterday was ponderous and lacking any sort of intensity, drive or positive direction. I DID fall asleep! I am not an advocate of sacking, hiring, sacking regime. It doesn’t bode well for any club who are trying to build a base for success with every new manager having their own ideas and preferred players. Chopping and changing does not bring success without having a shed load of money to be able to afford to abandon plans it the click of the fingers (Chelsea?). Short termism is a dreadful business model and ultimately, without regular vast investment, doomed to failure. However, I find myself agreeing with many comments on here. From the evidence, I don’t think Mark and Scott are up to the job. To laud the possession stats is false idolity and seem to be the ‘go to’ assessment of every performance.

    Despite losing to Gary Bowyer’s Salford team, I feel it was the correct decision to have parted company with him. The football was awful under him and I didn’t see anything in that Salford team to suggest he has changed his approach. It was a case of us being worse than them form two very poor teams. No wonder he was ecstatic going away with 3 points. He probably knew that another teamon the day would’ve slaughtered them.

    I still question the sacking of Stuart but do understand why. I’m not that blinkered but I do think Stuart had more knowledge on how to move the club forward. I accept I may be in the minority on that one.

    However, I am looking hard but can’t see a way forward under the current manager(s). I do think we need a manager in the ilk of Keith Hill who has the experience and track record at our level. We are a 4th Division team and need to set up to WIN matches at this level, not be setting up ‘not to lose’

    • I’m with you on keeping Stuart. The horrendous injuries and the covid uncertainty were big enough factors to allow him more time. Shame our fans think we are Barcelona and deserve to win every game because we are a large city with a large fan base. That’s the same arrogance we despise about Leeds…
      Ryan Sparks handed McCall the extension then flinched due to fan pressure. Shame

  16. Season ticket survey

    Dear Ryan – I will happily pay £250 next season and renew for my 3 kids, if,,,

    We have a major clear out and get a decent manager and bring in the midfield general we have been missing for the last 4 years.


  17. So the saviours are now the hunted. People turned on McCall for wanting to play expansive, positive football, despite regularly having 7,8 or 9 first teamers out injured. People wanted him out, they wanted a balanced, tighter game plan. Well you have that now, it’s as boring as hell but it guaranteed safety but nothing else.
    (We’ll never know if McCall, with a fully fit squad and a transfer window, could have kept us up as people wanted blood.
    Now all knives point at T&S.
    When will it ever end…
    The people who lauded the dynamic duo now want them out. Who’d be a Chairman?? The City circus rolls on

    • We’re going over old ground here, but McCall’s issue wasn’t injuries, it was going into the season with a small squad (his choice) and putting his faith in the likes of BRE, DMH, Guthrie, Evans etc (so bad judge of player as well). People forget these 2 have had a long injury list too but had the sense to strengthen and clear out the dross.
      McCalls tactics, set up and team motivation were also lacking and McCall’s other 2 spells have showed he can’t recover when the team get in a tail spin. Ultimately it was a lazy appointment by Rhodes.
      These 2 will be gone soon – Sparks won’t risk the big impact keeping them will have on season tickets.

    • I feel sorry for McCall to a point as Rhodes and Rupp went into this season with no interest in getting promoted. That said, McCall didn’t help himself with not spending the budget and then having to rely on utter dross like BRE and DMH because of it. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Rhodes and Rupp had given McCall the backing that Trueman and Sellars got with a recruitment manager brought on board and money spent in January. Only reason we went big in January was because of the real threat of relegation.

      • McCall inherited a squad just out of the play offs. I presume he wanted to give all the players a chance. Most were sadly very poor with BRE and DMH terrible.
        I do think it’s down to a Chairman who regrets ever been introduced to Edin Rahic. I bet he can’t well to sell up and never venture to Manningham again!

  18. Richie Wellens please

  19. Eight years now since we had any meaningful success. We’ve had nearly as many managers since then and are still floundering around in the basement division. We’ve tried hiring and firing without any major improvement on the field and I feel we need some stability and thus should retain T and C for another season.
    Their brief was to keep us in the league which in itself looked a challenge at that time.That they did and whilst I agree there is huge scope for improvement they should have their contracts honoured.

    • That’s a fair point but they are 1 trick ponies. They cannot change their approach. Good manager(s) should recognise when things are not working and change it. They are not capable of doing that. Vernan was a better player on his favoured left but they have played him on the right and he was poor but they persisted. Evans doesn’t deserve to start but they keep picking him. Yesterday he
      Was worse than poor. It is a results game and to be fair they have been uninspiring defeats with little prospect of improvement. Supporters are fickle I agree but it’s them that pay the money and feel they have the right to be intertained.

  20. Looking at the wider picture of football as a whole. As a younger fan, I always thought football was a competitive sport based in the industry of entertainment. However, my experiences over the last few decades have seen my attitudes shift.

    For me, football has lost it’s way from the perspective of fan enjoyment. Reasons including financial inequality, media scrutiny, revenue, and internet hysteria have led to Managers adopting must not lose policies (for fear of losing their jobs), at the expense of the fan’s enjoyment and experience.

    I don’t mind, in fact, I enjoy a good backs to the wall game of football, as an exception, when there’s a true David vs Goliath encounter. But, run of the mill league games shouldn’t be dour, limp, dirge festivals!

    Maybe it is time for the authorities to reassess how points are awarded for league games, so that entertaining football is encouraged. For instance, scrap the current 3 points for a win; 1 for a draw etc… How about 1 point for every goal you score; and then a bonus point for a win?!

    Look at the scores in most league games over the last few years. I bet there aren’t many matches where a team has scored more than 2 goals…

    Football should be an enjoyable experience, with end to end, exciting play on show – where the fans are on the edge of their seats, biting their finger nails through nervous energy rather than boredom.

    Just a thought.


  21. Watching the latter performances under T&C has been excruciating. However, they have shown that they can get good entertaining football AND winning performances. I didn’t agree with the sacking of Stuart but it could certainly be objectively justified. Once T&C had demonstrated they could produce that consistent level of quality football, combined with a superb points haul, Sparks was right to give them an 18 month contract.

    We need to give T&C time to place more emphasis on a more positive entertaining approach to their coaching. Spark’s should make it clear that the philosophy of the Club requires a similar approach to the one Stuart McCall has had all his coaching career but with the ability to be able to adapt to a defensive attitude when required. With -hopefully- 13k plus fans behind T&C and the players at VP they could become successful long-term managers.

    I keep reading comments about the problems of the lack of ‘success’ on the field being down to matters embedded deeper in the Club. However, nobody can put their finger on it. Well, we’ve had owners and CEO’s that have been long-time supporters of the Club putting their heart, soul -as well as a significant amount of personal financial risk- good support, good player budgets and, on paper at least, managers that have the ability to get the club promoted. The one thing that is staring us all in the face, but continuously ignored as the real reason we are where we are, is that changing managers after only a few months in charge -mainly because of relatively short period of poor results- has not worked.

    Successful teams start by being built on a good defence. T&C did a good job on that front and that allowed us to get away from the foot of the table. They now need to be allowed time to show they can add a more productive goal scoring approach to that defence.

  22. Stu, may I suggest one additional improvement to the game. The Offside Rule: is only applicable to inside the 18 yard box. Surely, that would create more excitement and goals. Shame it is unlikely to ever happen. The traditionalists would never allow it.

  23. T&S should resume their previous roles – the club must look to appoint a credible manager AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

  24. Well its over now, the only good recent issue in the last few games is Sam Hornby give him number 1 spot for good now, and get a midfield captain in for next season after the clear out, lets start next season with the new now and let the old Rahic, Bowyer recruitment go no matter what, we need the right mentality now from the off what the backroom staff are making sure we get on board, looking forward to new season back in stadium, let’s make it a fortress with massive points on the board for Christmas.

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