Another afternoon of disappointment

Scunthorpe United 1
Jarvis 39
Bradford City 1
Songo’o 68

By Adam Raj

“We have to win that game. There’s no other way.” 

They were the pre match comments from City midfielder Levi Sutton. His comments were only echoing what the rest of us were already thinking. Scunthorpe, sat rock bottom of the Football League, boast the grim accolades of the worst defence and second worst attack in the division. Winning this game was the only acceptable result for a City side falling further and further away from being realistic promotion contenders.

But win they did not.

The Bantams were backed by 1,700 strong travelling fans. But despite being battered by wind, sleet and rain in the midst of Storm Arwen, the travelling faithful were not rewarded on the pitch.

City started the game in typically lethargic and passive fashion. The early season intensity and high press has gone and is still yet to return. The visitors were nowhere near second balls, struggled to clear their lines from crosses into the box and failed to create anything of note at the other end. It was every inch a performance you’d expect from a side struggling for form, confidence and quality.

With the wind to their advantage, the home side sought to make the most of the conditions as well as Richard O’Donnell’s hesitancy in dealing with crosses. Alfie Beestin’s in-swinging free kick was met by the sliding Manny Onariase on the six yard line. The centre half somehow volleyed over the goal and out the ground when it looked easier to score.

But City didn’t learn their lesson. Minutes later, they failed to stop the cross from right back Ross Millen and striker Aaron Jarvis bullied Paudie O’Connor to plant a header into the far corner. Let’s be honest, it was inevitable.

As the ball hit the back of the net, there was a lack of anger from the away end, more a feeling of resignation that this would be yet another disappointing Saturday afternoon. The anger and frustration eventually boiled over as the Bantams were booed off at half time. That was not before Abo Eisa, making his first start of the season, pulled up with yet another hamstring injury. 

City continue to boast an embarrassing injury record, the majority of which being preventable, soft tissue injuries. It is evident that Ryan Sparks’ reshuffle of the medical department and the appointment of Greg Stebbings, who Sparks brought in from his previous club Featherstone Rovers, has far from worked. A hamstring injury for Lee Angol is no real surprise, given his rotten record at his previous clubs. But when players like Eisa pick up their third hamstring injury in the space of three months, despite having no prior record of such absences, the problem seemingly lies at the club and not with the player.

Eisa’s replacement, Theo Robinson, was at the centre of a lively start to the second half. Callum Cooke’s in-swinging free kick was knocked forwards by Niall Canavan into the path of Robinson. But the City striker missed badly from two yards out. Robinson, head in hands, was in disbelief that he’d missed. The City fans, however, groaned at the fact that City’s ‘miss of the season’ compilation has yet another entrant. 

But still, it was better from City. Sutton blazed over from the edge of the area and a few Liam Ridehalgh crosses caused discomfort for the Scunthorpe back line. It wasn’t much, but it was finally a bit of pressure on the home side.

City started to pick up second balls and at least compete in the game. Yann Songo’o was finally getting a grip of a midfield battle that he was way off in the first half. Sutton embarked on a few trademark runs through the Scunthorpe midfield and Cooke was seeing more of the ball in dangerous areas. And it was that man who helped drag City back into the game. His corner was nodded in by Songo’o at the near post ahead of keeper Kieran O’Hara.

This felt like the game that Songo’o finally arrived at Bradford City. Whilst he was way off it in the first half, he delivered a captain like performance in the second period. The former Morecambe man has suffered for form and consistency since his highly anticipated arrival in the summer. He’s often looked a poor midfielder and a decent centre half – but a centre half who has a mistake in him. Today’s second half performance could be the catalyst he needs to become the player that we’re expecting to get.

But Songo’o couldn’t win this game by himself. Sutton and Cooke delivered similar second half performances by really taking charge and leading by example. But those three were alone in that conversation. Yet again, the Bantams are carrying too many passengers. Too many players who are ineffective or who make more mistakes than positive contributions. It’s not a recipe for a promotion winning side.

In what was left of the second half, Gilliead struck against the post, Angol fired over, Cooke saw a shot fly just wide and Threlkeld put in a great cross that nobody anticipated. The intensity that was missing in the first half was certainly present in the second period, but the lack of quality could not be rectified. For all City’s improvement in the second half, it was still nowhere near good enough.

Derek Adams’ post match interviews bemoaning his side’s finishing is becoming tiresome. Tiresome for him to keep saying it and tiresome for us supporters to keep hearing it. His comments are also losing credibility by the week. Ollie Crankshaw’s hat-trick for Stockport this afternoon takes his tally to seven in nine league games for the National League side. It’s quickly becoming another Eoin Doyle scenario, with City, yet again, on the wrong end of it.

Adams’ comments about winners is something that rings true. Songo’o’s reaction to scoring his first for the club was not to celebrate, but to drag his teammates back to the centre circle to get the game restarted as quickly as possible. That is the winning mentality that is needed throughout this football club. There are too many players either used to mediocrity or used to losing. 

But Adams himself needs to take accountability. He was the one who signed players deemed surplus to requirements at clubs such as Scunthorpe, Walsall, Port Vale, Tranmere and National League Wrexham. He knew what he was getting. To pile the blame solely on the players is unfair. You wouldn’t buy an orange and then moan it wasn’t a banana.

There’s serious work to do. Adams needs to improve, the medical department needs to improve and there needs to be real investment in January to drastically improve a squad lacking in quality throughout. As it stands, there’s too much standing between City and promotion, and all of it of their own making.

Categories: Match Reviews

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18 replies

  1. Real investment in January?
    Sorry, not going to happen. The most ominous bit of info this week was the priceless assertion that the departure of Crankshaw had made room in the budget for January signing. That should tell all the fans just what we have to look forward to in January .
    I really hope.I’m wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • The comments made me think we were paying OC £50k a week and that we received £300k for him! Honestly the bar is so low for a club our size it’s laughable. I will ask again and again. Where’s the money gone and going ? The maths really don’t stack up still…We are accepting mediocrity too easily on and off the pitch allowing a careless owner to sit in another country and count his beans without any pressure whatsoever. Employing someone with a good heart to create a positive narrative should not be accepted as a responsible owner of a proud football club doing his bit. You don’t get out of this league or any league by being prudent. We have been prudent at best – skin flints is more like it. You have to risk a little / push the boat out . They say football is a business ….speculate to accumulate then..we have speculated for about 3 signings under Rupp in Rahic summer then that’s it. Then when didn’t work out we have had tears ever since about getting bruised by one crap season and a few contracts to pay up. 2500 fans have travelled this week to watch total average nonsense. You pay for what you get generally. Nothing new under the sun. DA is the sort of gaffer we need but he can’t operate with these restrictions and expect success. Why is Rupp getting no pressure still I ask? Another year since I asked the same and still no answers… come on fans what are we expecting or waiting for ? Or are we happy to be a watered down version of Charlton for instance (awol careless owner)

  2. I’ve questioned several times in this forum whether City’s recurrent soft tissue injury issues are normal, welcome to see at last even the manager questioning why that is. As you say, top to bottom, this squad and management & support staff need to ask & be asked what they’re really going to achieve.

  3. Just what are we going to get in January?!
    Unless its a striker who can convert the many chances we miss, a midfielder who can actually close down and deliver assists and goals, a right back who is solid and not erratic and a keeper who can command his box and distribute the ball better than the woeful O’Donnell….then its going to be another season of league 2 football next season. And worse still in the following season if this awful squad doesn’t see some real investment. Spend or die a death by a thousand cuts.

  4. responding to some of the comments accepted above its Good to see that fans are not just outing their frustrations on the manager (in the comments above) and starting to ask questions about Rupp and what he actually wants from this. If he wants to sell then what is he doing about it? The still positive fans about promotion this season, keep citing the January window. This mystical unknowable entity that ‘some’ have ‘faith’ that will seemingly be fulfilled and result in a dream ending to the season. Well like most conspiracy theories where is the evidence that this will happen? The announcement of further money from the premier league does still not mean that this will be available to Adams. not only that, but based on some of Adams signings thus far are you really certain that they will be a success? Objectively the chase to get Adams on board can be seen to be due to his previous promotions at this level but the cynic/skeptic would also say it is because last season he also did it on the cheap. Both desirable qualities if you are an owner or CEO. Taking the seer and/or faith advocates out of this, do we really think that the upcoming window is enough for Adams to push us forward? As Clarke said after the game we seem to be asking players to play a way that doesnt suit them and lack an “identity” in what we are doing. IF we do not support Adams in every way in what he deems he needs to succeed then we are merely patching up holes. Too many times we have failed to back the manager and allow the time for them to do their thing. Now is the time to do this or the merry go round will continue, I do not like watching pragmatic football, but still feel that we cannot carry on swapping managers before they have built a squad of their own and not the previous incumbent. Time to back him, like the fans continue do for the team.

    • You make some good points, Danny. I, too, don’t like swapping managers. However, the more I see, and hear, from Adams, the more I feel he’s not going to be a success.

      It’s a difficult one. Do we stick, and tread water for two more years or, even go backwards, or do we get shut? The latter option is even more difficult to contemplate as I can’t even think of a suitable replacement, from what’s available

      That probably means Adams stays, by default, which is never a sound decision in any business.

      In all probability, therefore, all we’ve got to look forward to is more of the same.

  5. The club should never let hamstring injuries happen — ever! (Or groin or other “pulls”.)

    In the age of very accessible, well understood yoga, professional athletes should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes of yoga (stretching, for those uncomfortable with the word ‘yoga’) every single day.

    If you can’t follow this basic guideline — along with proper diet, etc — then you can’t call yourself a professional athlete … or a club supposedly employing professional athletes.

    Come on City … get your act together!

    • Based on my own experience of training beside a river. I think the source of City’s ongoing hamstring issues could be the training pitches and high water table making them ‘heavier’ than normal. The calf muscles tend to be more strained running on soft ground. Just a thought.

      • Famously Clough used to take his Nottingham Forrest team for a walk down the Trent to feed the ducks.

        They went on to win the European Cup – twice. Maybe we should give that a go??!

  6. Frustrating to hear comments like “we seem to be asking players to play in ways that don’t suit them.” What about the August matches which we won..why can’t they just go back to that approach/style/ form?

    • after the defeat to tranmere Adams said that he told them at half time to stop messing with the ball and “hook it up field”. We subsequently spent the entire 2nd half booting it long and to no one towards players who do not suit that type of game imo. The early season success was built on more of a mix up of styles and confidence imo. We seem to play less on the floor at present. Watch how many times O Donnell boots it long rather than distribute to his full backs etc. The criticism of Watt who tries to pass the ball is hypocritical to anyone complaining about us ‘just booting it long and anywhere’. But his confidence has drained imo and does that apply to other players in the team?

    • This is genuinely the most baffling thing. We were playing some lovely football at the start of the season, the passing was crisp and quick, and we looked comfortable in possession. It’s almost like that was the players’ natural way of playing, and Adams has since ‘put his mark’ on the squad by concentrating on being hard to beat first-and-foremost. We’ve turned creative players like Cooke, Gillead and Watt into shells of their former selves in recent months. It makes for dire watching and isn’t a good fit for any club other than one looking to avoid relegation as their first priority

      • i think this way too regarding the early season to now. The players that like to play on the floor and do not suit a physical game have lost confidence and their way since the early games. Yep we also had Angol and Cook as a partnership up top but it seems to me we were playing more football on the floor and had a better mix to our play. The Tranmere 2nd half we booted it to no one all game and towards players that do not suit that style of football. This should have been recognised and changed accordingly at the time. IMO

  7. Another afternoon of disappointment.
    I predict there will be many more.
    Regardless of how we played it’s simply not up to the Required standard to go to the bottom of the league and not win if as a club you have a clear target of promotion
    We a exactly where we should be. Mid table. Lots of draws a few wins against teams that aren’t very good.
    It’s not promotion material at all.
    Hopefully we can gain positive momentum, hopefully we are targeting signings that can improve us next season(though I doubt as a club were looking that far ahead)
    Let’s see

    • I’ll elaborate. In 19 games we have beaten Mansfield 15th, Stevenage 21st, Oldham 23rd, Swindon 4th, Rochdale 13th and lost to: Leyton O 8th, Crawley 19th, Salford 11th, Hartlepool 17th, Tranmere 10th. with 9 draws.
      I’d describe that as absolutely average.
      Its simply not good enough for promotion. So my pondering is to who at the club has an eye on next season? how are we planning for that? How would we be planning for it even if we were to get promotion?
      I suspect we’ll be waiting to see what’s around come July 22 like most other badly run, small time clubs in the bottom leagues

  8. Could you please explain why my submissions, after the Tranmere game and, again, this morning, after the Scunthorpe game, haven’t been published? Both were acknowledged as “awaiting moderation”.

  9. Only stopping by to say that the title of this article says it all. “Another afternoon of disappointment”. No shock, no anger, not even enough energy to begin analysing why. We’ve done that all before and it’s got us nowhere. Just the plain straightforward resignation of another repeated afternoon.

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