Déjà vu

Crawley Town 2
Ferry 39, Tsaroulla 73
Bradford City 1
Cooke 81

By Adam Raj

During the week, the City media team tweeted a rerun of our last victory at the People’s Pensions Stadium – a 1-3 victory under Phil Parkinson in August 2014, with some excellent goals scored, including a Billy Knott screamer. Unfortunately, it seems Derek Adams and his players were sent a copy of the January 2020 horror show defeat under Gary Bowyer. Today’s result and performance felt like déjà vu.

Performance and result wise, this was dire. Long gone is the high press, high energy and intense brand of football that we saw in the early weeks of the season. Back is the safety first, pedestrian and unimaginative style that seems to have plagued the Bantams since the play off final defeat in 2017.

Of course, there are some mitigating circumstances, namely injuries to key players. As was the case last season, when City lost Lee Novak and Reece Staunton, the depth was and is not there to cope. The difference, this season, is that Ryan Sparks promised that this wouldn’t be the case and that City would have a strength in depth when the inevitable injuries strike. As it was, as soon as the news that Charles Vernam would miss today’s game, any remaining enthusiasm dissipated from the fanbase.

Today’s viewing was entirely predictable.

Whilst not blameless, you have to feel for Adams. Whether or not he wanted to drop the underperforming Alex Gilliead, play another striker alongside Andy Cook or change the game from the bench – the options at his disposal dictate that he can’t even ask himself these questions.

One option that Adams does have the luxury of choice in is the partner to Paudie O’Connor. Adams has chosen the experience of Fiacre Kelleher over the youth of Reece Staunton, but it is looking an increasingly questionable decision. Since his sound debut at Salford, Kelleher has struggled. With all due respect, he looks every inch a player who was released by a National League side.

And it was his strange positioning that led to the opening goal this afternoon. Having lost out on the initial dual with striker Sam Ashford, Kelleher followed his man over to the left back area and that’s where he remained, despite Ashford releasing the ball to Jake Hessenthaler and Liam Ridehalgh being in position. Because of this, City were left short in the box as Hessenthaler crossed for Will Ferry to tap home.

The goal wasn’t all Kelleher’s fault of course. Oscar Threlkeld and O’Connor were fast asleep as the ball came in. For all the publicity surrounding City’s goalscoring problem, they’re leaking goals like a sieve. One clean sheet all season, coming on opening day at Exeter, is extremely poor.

Meanwhile, City struggled to create anything from open play. Whilst that hasn’t really been an issue in recent weeks, the absence of Vernam meant the City frontline was full of underperforming or out of form players. The Bantams, therefore, had to rely on set pieces and Callum Cooke’s delivery. Two Cooke free kicks were the closest City would come in the first half, with Cook powering a header over the crossbar and Yann Songo’o forcing a good save from Glenn Morris.

The second half was more of the same painful viewing from a City perspective. Especially as the distinctly average home side doubled their lead. The ball was worked from right to left where Nick Tsaroulla drove at the City backline. The left back was faced by Oliver Crankshaw, Songo’o and Threlkeld, yet all three failed to engage Tsaroulla, instead choosing to back off.

Under no pressure at all, Tsaroulla picked his spot in the far corner of the net past the diving Richard O’Donnell. It was a desperately bad goal to concede, but one that feels all too familiar.

It was actually somewhat of a surprise that City managed a consolation in a game where they looked anything but threatening. Crankshaw’s tricky run into the box saw his deflected cross fall to Cooke who finished well past the defender on the line. With ten minutes plus injury time to go, City looked to have set up a grandstand finish. But as is to be expected these days, that didn’t happen and instead the game fizzled out.

It marks the fifth defeat in seven games in all competitions, and the third successive defeat on the road. After such a promising start in terms of both results and performances, City are in reverse. The Bantams keep losing, the performances are getting worse and the injuries keep mounting.

Post-match, Adams stated, “a manager can only deal with the cards he’s been dealt.” This is after he inferred in the week that he was happy with only 16 of his 25 man squad. That’s a considerable amount of players that he doesn’t think are good enough.

Whilst Adams seems to be a manager who doesn’t take much responsibility himself, I can’t really disagree with him. The fact that we’re not even in October, and the January window is being looked at as yet another salvage mission, is tiring.

For a season that was sold to the fans as being one that broke the never-ending cycle of underperforming, it feels every inch a repeat of seasons gone by. A poorly assembled squad (specifically beyond the first XI), a mountain of injuries, a goal-shy attack and a fragile defence.

It seems like little has changed, if anything at all.

Categories: Match Reviews

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19 replies

  1. Whilst Adams still has a lot to do to convince during his first few months at City, but he delivered some damning words about the club today – from the top down to our underperforming players. Such a sad state of affairs and hope is yet again being extinguished.
    Going to be interesting to see what the response is from Sparks because this cannot go on – something has to give

  2. Believe me the fans will turn very soon, its as though the club as coned the fan in there season ticket marketing plan.Tell the fans what they want to hear and deliver nothing. I said earlier in the season where are the new players that will make a differance ,simply not good enough on all fronts the players the manager and the owner sort it out .

    • My wife and I buy season tickets because we support BCAFC not because of any ‘marketing plan’.

      • Agreed Lonnie, and those of us who are like you will continue to do so.

        However, there’s more than one way to build a football club. What seemed like years ago now I went to watch City on the first game of the season at Exeter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day – friendly fans, a bar doing craft ales, nice pasties. They were doing free teas for the away support.

        It was as if it was just another day out – and oh – and by the way – there’s a football match on starting at 3pm!

        In the same way as people join golf clubs, rackets clubs and Conservative clubs who don’t necessarily play golf, squash or vote Conservative but enjoy the bar, or fitness suite for example I got the feeling that for Exeter supporters a day out at St James’ was more than just a game of football.

        Its these types of fans, often with kids to entertain, that are swayed by the ‘marketing campaigns’ and are the ones we risk losing or alienating if everything turns toxic.

  3. A Spot on summary. A merry go round of manager after manager and player after player with the results and style of play and attitude displayed been no different with what gone and that same old sinking feeling since 2017. Over the last 4 seasons we must have the worst playing record result wise in the entire football league. Adams has had all Summer to assess the situation and the players brought in have made little impact and are quite frankly substandard.

    The spine of this seasons team
    O’Donnell, Canavan, O’Conner, Evans, Watt, Cooke and Cook were all at VP that finished 15th in the basement division. The players added by Adams are simply not good enough yet again. The front line is laughable with players brought in to support Andy Cook been just fillers with a no better than a 1/5 scoring record.

    Early days however, very worrying signs already with a lone striker with no support and a system that looks so predictable it’s embarrassing. What’s going on Sparkes?

    I can’t believe that Sparkes sacks the 2 head coaches last season and Trueman resurfaces as Adams number 2??

    Less than 2.5k at Crawley today. City had roughly the same number with pay on the the gate fans at the last home game plus 13k in ST sales and we are still unable to put together a team capable of getting a result today.

    Injuries yes, but I agree with Adam no responsibility taken by Adams today and nothing from Sparkes in relation to the change of direction from the club in terms of player recruitment and the release of Turnbull. It appears second rate pros have been signed and are playing at the expense of youth development. Absolutely baffling but oh so predicable.

  4. “One option that Adams does have the luxury of choice in is the partner to Paudie O’Connor.”
    In my opinion, Paudie should be our 3rd choice CB as backup to Canavan and A N Other. McHugh to Davies and McArdle if you will.
    The results of not recruiting another seasoned, hard, no-nonsense CB in the summer to partner Canavan and cut out the stupid goals and bringing in another bench warmer instead in Kelleher are starting to bare fruit, sadly.

    • This is the dilemma that the manager finds himself in.

      AndyR wants youth to be given a chance, yet you are advocating dropping Paudie, a young player who has won many plaudits for his committed displays. One can probably give a similar argument for Reece.

      As you rightly point out the problem is no back up. Young players like Reece and Paudie will have peaks and troughs in terms of form. Playing them week in week out when they have lost some form damages their development and damages the club’s chances of promotion.

      It’s all very depressing.

      • Hi Andy,

        Totally agree with you.
        I’m not slating Paudie or his commitment but just like last season, as soon as Canavan gets injured Paudie looks half the player and the mistakes start creeping in. We clearly needed another proper CB in the summer. Instead we got a man who was released by Wrexham before they got their Hollywood money! And that’s depressing too…. Wrexham got serious investors from Hollywood, we got Stefan and Edin!

      • Wrexham don’t seem to be doing that well with the Hollywood money.
        Like everyone it will take time.
        Look at Brentford and Norwich . That’s how to run a clu.

  5. In November last year I truly thought City were heading for the national league.
    Two years before that I watched Chesterfield at Harrogate. I thought City were going the way of Chesterfield.
    Since sparks took over I I am certain that the future is far brighter. But it won’t be quick.
    Form is bad at present but I am sure it will improve. Sparks knows what he is doing. Adams has now had no more than a dozen matches. He is an experienced successful manager.
    For goodness sake give him time.

    • Did you listen to our manager on radio Leeds,if he had not lost the dressing he has now.This is not just i dip in form ,reading between the lines of what our manager said, he was calling the players but when way past them and was having a go at what had happened over the last few years at the club . what has he found out which is not public .

    • I agree totally but I don’t think it’s as simple as saying give Adam’s time.
      He has called out the players today and more importantly the overall failings at the club over the past 4 years, this is going to gets certain people’s back up.

      For what it’s worth i think DA is right, we have too many ‘soft centres’ at the club – i sometimes think there is a very calculated way he addresses things (to get a reaction) but this is not engender harmony in the ranks

    • What evidence do you base your claim that Sparks knows what he is doing on?

      Adams says that there is no more budget left. The question should be 1, Why?

      2, What happened to Sparks statements pre season, how we would be competitive, challenging for promotion, will have more depth and cover? Where is Sparks accountability? Sparks has seemingly lied or at the least deliberately attempted to misguide.

      Inhis own words he will have failed if we do not get promotion this season. He reaps what he he sows and his naivety (if not it was deliberate), has been truly on show

  6. What’s worse than the current run of form are the comments on Twitter, T&A and hhere.Unlike the others, I expect more of WOAP.

    Adams has a terrific record as a L2 Manager and has been brought in to deliver promotion. What are we – 9 games in? Comments like we should beat them because they only get a small crowd, because they are only Xxx and we are Bradford City are ridiculous. We are 9 games in, you don’t have to be pleased but suggesting ‘something has to give’ and suggesting a change in manager are utterly ridiculous.

    Half the side is out injured. Give it time – I certainly will.

    • Well said Rob!! I cannot believe some of the stuff I’m reading at the moment with so little of the season played. We need to back the team and manager for once and get behind them rather than looking at who’s to blame and needs a good flogging. He’s our manager and that’s it! Keep the faith!

    • Injuries mean nothing to these fans. They turned on McCall when he had 12 or so injuries at the same time last season. They expect Derek Adams to click his fingers and we get 100 points easy.
      Sadly WOAP has changed and the angry Twitter types are here too.
      Just support the club through thick and thin. If you want endless and soulless success watch Man City or Chelsea.

  7. It is now at the stage where we go into a match expecting to lose. We have the bulk of possession but we are no threat. We were toothless yesterday. Little threat going forward. The only encouragement I took from the game was Songo’o performance. He worked hard. Always looking for the ball.
    Adams seems to have an attitude to some of his squad. If you are out of favour you just don’t get a game. Yet if you’re in favour no matter how poorly you play you’re on the team sheet. This must breed discontent amongst the squad. Last season Staunton was a quality player, now he hardly features. You do not become a bad player overnight. Adams has qualities. He is no mug. He has a great record of getting teams promoted. So far he does not seem to be getting the performances from this squad of players. I don’t know how much he was involved in the recruitment of this season’s influx of players but it appears that the recruitment in the main has been very poor. We must be the only club with no loan players. Why is that? Please explain Mr Sparks.
    I don’t want Adams to be sacked. I believe he still has a lot to offer. Questions need to be answered. Who was involved in the recruitment process? Why certain players are excluded? We are the envy of most clubs in the bottom tiers of the football league yet, we perform like a Sunday league team.

    Please give us an explanation to why things have gone pear shaped?

  8. Not enough genuine competition for places in the squad.
    However a United front from manager and CEO is needed. Not a pack of lies and ifs buts and maybes. This month would be a great time for manager and CEO to hold another fans session with some detailed information (as much as they are able to give) about the change in strategy on recruitment, about the finances, the wage bill , the strategy for the second half of the season including January.
    Bcafc fans are some of the most understanding fans in the country, if they are spoken to straight, truthfully, and like adults.
    Attempts to pull the wool over our eyes, or worse still, silence (as happened for far too long under Julian Rhodes) is when bcafc fans get most disenfranchised

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