Uninspiring stalemate at Stockport highlights growing Bradford City supporter disconnect – Mark Hughes must prioritise restoring dwindling belief

Stockport County 0
Bradford City 0

Written by Jason McKeown (images by John Dewhirst)

Let’s be rational. Getting a 0-0 draw at Stockport County is a decent result. Stockport have been in superb form for months, winning 11 of their last 16 – and four of their last six at home – prior to this scrappy contest with the Bantams. County top the League Two form table, and would have climbed into the play offs at Bradford City’s expense had they won this.

The Bantams were solid and organised at Edgley Park. They largely kept their well-drilled opponents at arm’s length, and ensured Stockport failed to hit the same level of dominant performance they achieved at Valley Parade last October. Given County’s resurgence since that day (29 points from their last 14 games), most people connected with Bradford City would have gladly taken a point here before kick off. And that’s what they got.

But here’s the problem. Being rational is hard to maintain when you’ve just watched a snooze-fest. Football – and football supporting – is an emotional sport. It’s about winning, it’s about losing. It’s rarely getting excited about drawing 0-0 at the home of one your biggest promotion rivals.

At Edgley Park on Tuesday, a sell out Bradford City away following produced one of the flattest atmospheres I can remember. There was barely any chanting. Hardly any noise. We stood passively watching a game of football that failed to offer any hook to grab onto and become engaged with. This was a dull, dull game that generated a detached response. The contrast with the home supporters, who made a superb racket for most of the game, was evident. A unity between County support and team that City are suddenly lacking.

This should have been a cracking Bradford City atmosphere. Under the lights, at a club not far down the road, with plenty in attendance – even the Valley Parade drum was here. But there was nothing on the field to get excited by. Little to get behind. And it’s a worrying indication of the re-emerging disconnect between the club and supporter base. Things are starting to drift. And we’ve been here before, too often, in the recent past.

This would have been a good point if City had shown greater attacking intent, rather than looking so timid and reserved. It’s all become a bit too cautious again. They never really looked like they were going to score here, and that adds to the fact it’s now five away games in a row the Bantams have failed to find the back of the net.

Mark Hughes kept City in the diamond, but with a splash of new faces that make team selection decisions look questionable. Adam Clayton came in for a full debut, playing at the base of the diamond. But to accommodate the experienced midfielder, captain Richie Smallwood was moved to the right side of the four. This was not playing in any way to Smallwood’s strengths, and the team’s overall cohesion suffered as a result.

It was a pretty good debut from Clayton. He broke up the play well, and set up attacks. He is potentially an upgrade on Smallwood, but is he the midfielder that Bradford City have been lacking? It’s felt for months that we’ve needed more of a playmaker to set the tempo and to spray around the ball in the opposition half. The sort of things we’ve been asking Smallwood to do, with little success. The is an issue that Clayton’s arrival does not appear to have fixed.

Then there was the first outing for new left back, Tolaji Bola, who has been signed on loan from Rotherham in a move that saw Matty Foulds depart on loan to Harrogate. There’s been plenty of debate on this reshuffle. For me, I thought Foulds was having a decent season and whilst he is not without his limitations, it didn’t really seem like a priority to renovate this area of the team.

On first showing, Bola is not the improvement on Foulds that was apparently needed. This was never going to be an easy game to make your debut in, and it’s really unfortunate for Bola that Saturday’s home match with Carlisle was called off. But even accepting the difficult circumstances, this was a really poor debut. Bola looked completely off the pace and was caught out so often, whilst going forward he struggled to have any impact. Some are saying it’s the worst City debut performance they can remember and that’s probably a bit too harsh, but it’s a reflection of just how much the 24-year-old player struggled.

It feels like the Bola/Foulds situation is a risky move by Hughes because you’re replacing a decent, competent left back with someone who prior to last night had only ever made 12 senior league starts in his career (backed up by Liam Ridehalgh, who is consistently having injury issues). Let’s not write him off just yet, but the kindest thing you can say right now is that Bola can only get better. And if he doesn’t, Hughes’ judgement is going to be severely questioned.

As it is right now over his choice of forwards. Andy Cook once again remained on the bench here, with Hughes opting for a Vadaine Oliver/Dara Costelloe partnership. If it felt a very debatable call before the game, nothing that happened over the 90 minutes justified Hughes’ decision.

Costelloe was completely anonymous and it’s confusing how he was walked straight into the team rather than being given time to settle and make an impact from the bench. Oliver was below par and offered little all night. Cook remained sidelined until the 82nd minute. When he did come on, he made more of an impact than Oliver.

Hughes has talked recently about how Cook is still in his plans, and that he wanted to give the forward a mid-season break to avoid the risk of a repeat of last season, where the 32-year-old’s form badly dropped off. There’s a logic there for sure, and Oliver has in the main done pretty well over these past five games. But City are not scoring enough without Cook. They need their top scorer back in the side.

With Saturday’s trip to Walsall postponed due to the Saddlers’ FA Cup involvement, City don’t play again now until the transfer window closes. Hughes has strongly stated he won’t let Cook leave, but the club are clearly at risk of losing his services given he’s out of contract in the summer and suddenly out the team. It’s going to be an interesting few days. Cook ended the night with a bloody nose that apparently puts him in doubt for City’s next game against Mansfield. They need to him to stay. They need him fit. Break time is over, Cook must start matches.

Whether it was formation or personnel, City just never clicked as an attacking force here. Abo Eisa was below his recent high standards, and Alex Gilliead was the only forward player to perform well. Matt Derbyshire finally made his debut off the bench, replacing Costelloe, and showed some really nice touches. But City chances on goal were few and far between all evening.

Stockport certainly had the better opportunities. Just after half time, they had a spell of pressure where they forced several corners and Harry Lewis made one striking save with his head. But City weathered the storm, and they looked relatively comfortable in the closing stages. You expected Stockport to up it towards the end, but they never found top gear themselves. Credit to City’s defence, with Matty Platt, Romoney Crichlow and Brad Halliday back to their best, but these were crumbs of comfort to an underwhelmed City away following.

Hughes rightfully highlighted a first half penalty incident where Gillead was tripped in the box. The referee Martin Coy, who had a largely good game, waved away what looked a really credible appeal. If you compare the incident to some of the penalties City have conceded this season, not least the Rochdale one, it’s hard to avoid joining Hughes in crying conspiracy. But when you’re relying on such borderline moments to go your way in order to win matches, you’re leaving yourself too much of a hostage to fortune.

And that’s the problem. There just hasn’t been enough of an attacking threat from Bradford City lately. Only 10 shots on target over the last three games. One goal in that time. When you’re so limited in front of goal, you’re too dependent on fine margins going your way.

Hughes has the tools to be make City more of an attacking force. To be more dominant in matches. To let the handbrake off. Even with a few injuries, his squad is so strong that he could leave Harry Chapman and Dion Pereira out of the matchday squad completely. He can let Jake Young go out on loan to Barrow and Lee Angol – a key player last season, in Derek Adams’ eyes – depart to Sutton. Yet Hughes seems unwilling to trust in the midfield and forward players he has. The risks taken in this January window are not being mirrored in the approach on the pitch.

It’s now just five wins in the last 19 games. That’s a worry. Especially as the early indications are that the January transfer activity is not shifting the dial upwards. Where is the spark coming from to get the club going forwards again? Where is the promising, attractive football of earlier this season? And why does it feel like we’ve adopted a scarcity mindset of just trying to hold onto what we have?

But let’s bring back in rational thought here. If everything about this season so far feels a little too familiar to recent, failed campaigns, then we can predict with some accuracy what’s to come next. Hughes’ popularity has taken a hit of late. And there’s every chance we’re soon going down a route that leads to a change of manager.

I really, really hope we don’t.

Football managers deserve to come under scrutiny at all times. Hughes has some fabulous achievements in the game, including as manager, but that doesn’t absolve him of criticism at Valley Parade. There’s quite a few things to feel disappointed by with Hughes of late. For the resources he has, and the experience he brings, more is justifiably expected.

However, I really hope we stick with him. Even if we don’t get promoted this season, there’s no question we are in a forwards direction from where we have been. Despite some pretty significant questions about recruitment of late, the overall model is delivering a better standard of player and there’s plenty to build on – no matter what division City are in next season.

Maybe the rate of progress is slower than we’d like. Maybe it’s still an underachievement considering the resources available. But the route of sacking managers every February has not proved successful. Resetting every 12 months isn’t working. We have to give managers more time. Especially if their qualities outweigh their minus points.

And I think that’s the case with Hughes. Things are not good enough right now, but the foundations are visible and, in time, there’s every reason to believe he can deliver success. Hopefully, that’s still this season – City are in a good position even with recent results. But even if we fall short and have to again next year, this feels like the right path. We need to build up the club again, and that comes from sticking to a longer-term plan.

Still, that’s down to Hughes to prove himself to a public that’s beginning to be sceptial. The reality is that – like this dull, 0-0 stalemate – we’re not really going backwards or forwards. We can, and should, be doing better. It’s time to be more positive in our approach on the field. To pick the best XI players for the best formation – rather than the square pegs and struggling loanees selection of this game at least – and to start scoring goals.

More than anything else, it’s time to get back to giving us supporters something we can really get behind.



Categories: Match Reviews

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41 replies

  1. How reassuring to have one’s own impressions gained from merely watching a screen validated by someone who was at the match – and man of mature football judgement and fine expressive powers, to boot. Jason has tact but does not pull any punches. This was a match we could not afford to lose, especially after suffering defeats in two other recent six-pointers. Stockport would have overtaken us on goal difference had they won. Having been critical of our indifferent approach against Northampton Town and Leyton Orient, I must applaud the resolve we showed last night. The system we employed, with only three outright attackers, Oliver, Costelloe and Eisa, severely restricted our potency, however. As Jason points out, Clayton may be a commendable upgrade on Smallwood but is not the attacking midfielder we still need. Bola, unfortunately, offered no sign of the superior attacking threat for which he was apparently recruited. Costelloe does not so far appear to suit the role of second striker. There is even a suspicion we were better as we were a few weeks ago. But two battling away draws to in-form teams are on the face of it perfectly acceptable and may have set us up nicely for the good run that must come if we are to attain the top three. Recently Northampton have kept blowing their chances to pull well clear and we have kept blowing ours to catch them. Now would be a good time to go into overdrive, if we have it in us. I hope Cook will be able to play in a mask against Mansfield. Our goal threat is severely diminished when he is not playing. It’s not easy to achieve momentum with all the blank Saturdays!

  2. In the main I agree with you Jason and commend your last 5 paragraphs specifically.

    It was one of the worst games I’ve seen and that’s from both sides. Stockport clearly edged it but I thought we were the more likely towards the end. A point would be a good outcome before the game, so a point is a good result!

    The problem is the negativity. You mention the brilliant Stockport crowd – well their away following was brilliant earlier in the season too. Bradford City fans are quick to see the negative and slow to see the positives.

    Bola was not that bad. He made a couple of errors, as did Crichlow, but on the whole got through a difficult match unscathed and will be better for it. He’s probably never played in a game of kick and rush for years! They clearly targeted him from the start and so did our fans – I heard a small group next to us shouting ‘we want our Matty back’ after his first touch! OK, so it was in jest, but for me it highlights the starting point of City fans, they want to criticise.

    There is so much that goes on that we don’t know about and will never know. The performance analysis they have these days says how long players can play for, whether they should play, etc – Cook looks unfit to me and that might be supported by the stats but we go off what we can see and criticise the manager who does actually know.

    For me Cook, if fit has to start, and start with Derbyshire (if fit to start) as he looked very good. Costello was lively for 20mins but then faded out of it. Chapman (if fit) can feed those two and we will score!

    Let’s just trust the Manager and Coach for once, let’s trust him and stop being so negative all the time. It must get through to the players and management. Let’s face it they tried to play attractive football earlier in the year and got booed off the field when we lost a game.

    Last point, if you don’t win a game – football, cricket, any sport – it doesn’t necessarily mean the Manager doesn’t know what he’s doing, they just didn’t win – both managers might be bad, both might he good. It’s just sport and it’s unpredictable.

  3. Both teams will be happy that they didn’t lose last night. A venture onto Stockport’s social media suggested that they were also frustrated with the lack of threat from their side. Despite Lewis’ bizarre headed save, he had a relatively quiet night thanks to the impressive performances from those ahead of him.

    With many key attackers not available, it was vital that we didn’t lose so I don’t have any qualms with Hughes’ approach. We always like to hark back to 2012/13 and that season there were similarly forgettable Tuesday night 0-0 draws away at Port Vale & Plymouth where Parkinson was forced into leaving key attackers out of his starting line-up. Had we lost those two games, we would have finished outside the play offs so there is value in being pragmatic sometimes.

    That said, there is work to be done in an attacking sense and the onus is on Hughes to find the right balance. But we are fortunate that players like Walker, Chapman and Banks should be back for Mansfield. Derbyshire & Nevers have impressed in their brief cameos thus far as well.

  4. I have been a season ticket holder for 25 years and we have had Windass Hanson and Wells as the only recognised goals scorers in that time and we have the same problems again we have not got the money to compete and I have now made the decision to not renew my season ticket I will follow City from my armchair as this will stop the miserable live performances

  5. Value for money spent is a big problem at VP. City look a very bloated organization both in squad size, backroom staff and payroll. I agree the revolving door approach when it comes to managers is not productive and patience is required. However, credibility in the leadership at VP has been a chronic issue for quite some time. Professional football is a results business. When it comes to permanent signings City have one of the oldest squads in the league and is relying heavily on loanees to be competitive in a very poor league. Patience is a virtue but where are the green shoots to be optimistic about when it comes to on the pitch performances?

    • “but where are the green shoots to be optimistic about when it comes to on the pitch performances?”

      1 defeat in 5.

      Three of those against promotion contenders.

      Two of those against teams who have the best form in the division, in the last 14 or so matches.

      One of those spent with 10 men for 30 minutes.

      It’s Tier 4 footie. I’ve rarely seen any more than say a third of matches, you could rank as a good footie match.

  6. I generally agree with your assessment but we could have had Harry Kane playing last night, it would not have made any difference forewords need something to work with, our midfield created nothing.

    • Dave Challiner (Stockport manager) seems far more impressed by our performance than most of our fans.

      We might not have created much, but vitaly we stopped them creating.

      I’m puzzled why fans don’t realise that, when you’re playing two on form teams away from home – we’re not going to be on the front foot for much of the matches.

      Everyone points to Stevenage as a great example. That’s exactly how they would have played last night.

      Yes. We now need to take this new strength and turn it into 8 to 10 points from the next 12. I don’t see why we can’t, given that we’ve had key players missing in recent weeks.

      I also think fans forget that L2 is a terrible league. Even we got automatic back in 1982, we had many attritional matches like this. Half of our 2013 play-off winning season matches, were just as turgid.

  7. Great result last night.

    And I liked the attritional performance it was needed.

    This is now just 1 defeat in 5 and a defensive set up that is getting back to been as mean-spirited as early season.

    So I’m baffled by all the negativity. Particularly with Walker and Banks both set to come back.

  8. How active has Gent been in this transfer window? The only player he was involved was the Irish lad, we have yet to see. We have the Walsall midfielder that’s been injured all season on the way back. The signings so far this window, based on early performances doesn’t inspire confidence but we have to be patient.
    Judging by social media there is a worrying negative number of posts regarding the quality of Mark Hughes management. One thing city must do is not to react to those voices who do not know what goes on behind closed doors. Mark could be restricted by budget pressures. The big loss in this window was Wright. As a crictism, it may have been wise to get him signed on a decent contract before Plymouth snapped him up.
    Cook needs to play and we need Chapman and Pieriar pushing for a spot. We lack flair. Midfield is still lacking and time is running out.

    • We’re just over halfway through the season, so I don’t get the “time is running out”

      Walker has hardly played and is due to come back. Banks has been out for a while and due to come back.

      I could understood these comments if we’d had five matches against opponents at the bottom and lost two of them. But I don’t get this flat feeling.

      Maybe too many thought we would breeze this division. As Orient are finding and could easily end up folding, it’s simply not a division that is easy to dominate.

  9. You can set a team up in the way you want it, You can pick the players to fit in to that system.But when your up against referees who havnt a clue.or are corrupt.Then you havnt a chance.At least 10 points have been lost with bad decisions so far this season.Not many teams go through a season not having a bad spell of luck.Things will change of this l have no doubt.

  10. I thought it was just me but I ended up with excactly the same conclusions on the game. I’ve watched City for 74 years now and without seeming to be your typical ” it was better in the good old days” person , I don’t remember games where we hit the dizzy heights of getting one corner and having one feeble shot on goal over the whole 90 minutes. The good old days , when I wasn’t good and I wasn’t old .

    • I agree with you.
      I have watched City for 60 seasons and currently cannot stop feeling “where have all the exciting games gone”.
      Not just City for when.i watch other teams on TV they all.look the same and are happy to win 1-0.
      Oh for the days of 3-2 games or even 2-0 games.
      Oh for the days of wingmen taking on defenders and whipping crosses in.
      The present days players even at L2 level are fitter, more athletic and more skilful than the days of yore.
      But the way the game has gone means that the spectacle has gone.
      It’s the result of managers fearing for their jobs and/or reputations.
      They are in the entertainment business and in recent seasons that has gone out of the window.
      It’s not just City.
      It’s the way the game has evolved.

      • Football today is boring
        I watched arsenal Man U other day
        What I watched was not what I read afterwards. Different planet

        I thought game was average.
        I read it was an amazing spectacle. A throwback to 98-04 era swashbuckling football.

        I’m old. I’m grumpy. But I just think football is boring nowadays. Unless of course you can be there in the stands and vibing off the electric atmosphere of people all being in the moment together. Tv watching is just rubbish

  11. Please please for goodness sake folks don’t try to force Hughes out.
    Bowyer and all the others since Parkinson were not given a chance. Hughes and his team are top men. Sparks is reorganising the admin very well.
    Please everyone give them time. They will get us promoted given time.
    Just imagine if Lawn had listened to the fans wanting rid of Parkinson when he was struggling.
    Have faith.

    • I thoroughly agree with you. Unfortunately we live in a world of instant gratification and so our fans, more than most others (because of how far we have fallen) seem to think that unless we’re winning and playing entertaining footie, the manager must be rubbish.

      Parky has four dodgy spells (the winless January 2012, the 1 in 21 win spell of 13/14, the slow first third in 14/15 plus the even slower start to 15/16) and in every one of them fans on forums like this wanted him out.

      It’s the first time in six years that we’ve been as handily placed in the promotion race and we need to realise that performances like last night are actually “inspired”. As I can’t think of anything much more “inspiring” than going to an on form team and stopping them playing.

      • I think it’s very disingenuous to suggest WOAP readers wanted Phil Parkinson to be sacked during dodgy spells. I remember WOAP readers in the main remaining very supportive of Phil Parkinson throughout his time at the club. I’d challenge you to find concrete evidence of such an accusation. I’m sure you can find one-off comments on this site but I doubt you will find much.

        When PP went on a run of 1 win in 21 the vast majority of fans stayed right behind him. Ditto 2014/15 and 15/16. I can’t remember a single instance where PP came under serious pressure from fans. Yes there are always some who disagree, but I think most of our fans deserve credit for their support.

        To be honest your constant attacks on every reader you disagree with are getting tiresome. It’s great to share your views but you don’t half try to make it personal to everyone you disagree with. Please debate sensibly and try to understand why people might disagree/have concerns with City right now.

      • I never mentioned fans of Width of a Post. Most fans don’t necessarily comment on here.

        I find the way that a comment I make is misconstrued by you, very upsetting.

        It’s a debate and we all have different opinions.

        Maybe you don’t go on other social media platforms, i.e. like the T&A, but I can assure you – during all those spells there were fans mumbling that they should go.

        Ironically, I vehemently disagreed with their views and perhaps even more ironically, I prefer the WOAP way of debating than the others.

        I think lost of fans lack perspective but that’s their view. I’m allowed surely, to put a counter opinion. Note, I didn’t like your “uninspiring” headline but didn’t comment on that.

    • Totally agree – let’s enjoy where we are and how far we’ve come so far !

    • I see you’re a paid up member of the infinite patience brigade.
      Unlike Barrow, Stevenage and Orient where their newly appointed managers are having an immediate positive impact, we’re slowly ebbing away.
      So ok, lets look at a longer return from MH, one, two or three more seasons perhaps.
      Therefore what is the point of 36 and 34 year old players coming to the club.
      Please don’t bleat on about Gary Jones, them sort of lads are as rare as Bradford City been in the top three.
      Oh and give me your take on a decent adequate left back, been replaced by a ‘player’ that’s barely capable of taking a throw-in, who’s masterstroke was that Gent or Hughes.
      Bigger clubs from time to time fall on hard times and drop into the basement, but financial constraints or not, they don’t hang about long before they’re back on the up, Coventry, Bolton and even Luton ( that dropped right out of the league) come to mind in recent times.
      Fans with this tired old mantra of ‘give them time’ will still be reeling it out in 10years time.
      It’s L2, we’ve a decent budget, we’ve (allegedly) a decent manager, nothing less than top three is satisfactory !

      • I get where you’re coming from, but as we’re still in the race for the top 3, then surely we should be a little bit more ‘happy’ than we currently are.

        We need to give Bola more time, i.e. I’m sure in two matches he’ll be better. It was a very tough baptism of fire, but I couldn’t see Foulds doing better in that match, where physicality was very important.

        And just a polite pointing out;

        1 defeat in 5, with three of those matches against promotion rivals isn’t “ebbing away”.

        Luton spent 8 seasons below L1

        Jones was one older player. Stead and Peter Thorne, were two others. We saw at the World Cup that older players can help with that vital direction to a team and Derbyshire looked fine when he came on.

        We’re really not in a bad position. Admittedly the next four matches, with three at home – need a major points haul.

      • I’m 76 years old and City have been in the bottom tier of League football for half my life. Before you defend Hughes and Sparks with the claim of give them time I suggest you reflect on the promises and claims they have made. In summary, over promising and under delivering sums it up nicely. I would also say that summation accurately reflects my 67 years of following City with a few magical exceptions.

  12. My comment was not really intended to have a go at the manager and was an attempt at putting the ‘dullness’ of last night and other games into some kind of perspective.
    More a comment on the game as an whole rather than City in isolation.
    I was hoping it would prompt some comment on the game as an whole in terms of entertainment.
    Because I don’t know for sure whether the game is less entertaining than it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago.
    I too do not like the revolving door nature at VP and the same goes for the short nature of many players contracts
    It seems just as we are getting to know them they are off.
    And push me further and I am.not that keen on having a team made up of loans.
    But I accept that the days of players making 300 to 500 appearances for one club have gone.
    Football like everything evolves.
    But at the end of the day we go to be entertained and my own.view is that we see that in decreasing amounts,.not just at City but throughout the game.
    On.one of the above posts there was discussion about Phil Parkinson winless run.
    My own memory was that the fans did not call for his sacking at the time and the mantra was generally “give him time”.
    Which it did courtesy of a McHugh header at the Kop end in a midweek game if I remember correctly.

  13. Jason, would it be possible to restrict contributors to two posts per topic? Most of us can get our views contained within one post. There are 29 comments in this article and one individual has monopolised the thread, not for the first time, with ten posts.

    As you say, it’s tiresome.

  14. Sooner or later we need to stick with a manager. We are in the play offs and have a manager with a proven track record.
    If we don’t go up this season and are struggling at Christmas 2023 it might be time to question the manager. In the meantime, get behind our team and keep the faith!

  15. Let’s see what we end up with come Feb1st. Cook will likely leave I think it’s obvious, however if say Charlie Wyke (fitness permitting) replaced him then who would be moaning? If Ridelgh was released and another full back signed permanently as competition for Bola then things would start making sense. With Walker, Chapman Osedebe, Banks and new attackers settling in properly before we all write them off then we absolutely should be a new proposition for the run in. For me the winter games are about grinding it out at times 0-0 away to an in form rival when a defeat would have signalled a huge load of negativity treble what last night triggered is a good result. we are a squad in transition (Jan window)who have played only 5 games in 7 weeks. No normal Saturday 3pm action since 19th November! Rhythm and repetition is so important to create momentum which creates form.

    Even if we are 5 points adrift with 3 games left we are still in with a shout and calmness and experience come into play then and from what I can see we have lots of that around the place these days.

    PS – Of course Stockport fans are buzzing these days they’ve just been promoted and living the dream!! They weren’t so lively approx 8 years ago when we last played them after years of pain like we have had behind us.

    Keep your peckers up everyone. Better is yet to come from this squad.

    Rich

  16. It’s 8 years this week since since we had anything to cheer about at City (Chelsea). It’s the most damning fact for the state of the club. Managers & players come & go. The fan base has seen it all before. For all the good PR nothing has changed. This is a poor league & with the attacking options we have we should be up there challenging for the autos. The biggest disappointment for a season that promised so much, is that one of footballs greatest strikers is playing ‘Derek Adams’ football… again.

    Welcome to Bradford City, the Groundhog club of the EFL.

    • Rarely does a team silk it’s way out of this division especially through winter months. Don’t let the last define your present and stick with this mate I know I have to fight this vibe myself but it’s the only way we can pull out of this by remaining positive and realistic at the same time.

      • I’m just puzzled & disappointed (again) by this season. It promised so much (again!), especially with the signings in the summer. I worry that its going to be another lost season. You have to question some of the January window transfers. Jake Young, who is currently 2nd highest scorer off very little game time is sent to Barrow and replaced with some green kid from Burnley, who looks out of his depth already. Steady away Matty Foulds replaced by Bola who lets be honest had a mare vs Stockport. The team that has stopped scoring & one of the leading goal scorers in the league is sat on the bench. This is a weak league this year, we should be challenging for the top 3, but we seem to be settling for a “chance of the playoffs”.

        I don’t think the club can afford yet another lost season, hence why managers have such a short window to succeed at City. The fan base is sick of being told, we are “too big for this league, players can’t wait to play in front of our fantastic large crowds” The pressure is soon too great and the buckle leading to Ryan Sparks & Stefan Rupp pulling the plug fearing a drop in revenue that reduced season tickets & commercial sales would bring.

        The season ticket renewal window is just around the corner. I do hope that Mark Hughes can turn it around, I’m increasing starting to doubt that he can, especially given the recent tactics & team selections. The honeymoon is definitely over, lose the support of the VP faithful and it will be back into football retirement for Sparky.

        We live in hope, but its the hope that kills you.

  17. I imagine Hughes is sat very pleased with his evening’s work. Restricting the form team to very little, keeping a clean sheet where many have failed, all while having depleted forward options.

    He went to not concede bring at least a point home and that’s what he did. Now that’s only worthwhile if we follow it up against Mansfield.

    Cook – a confidence player in need of a goal – would have had yet another frustrating night that wouldn’t have helped us over the course of the season. Oliver allowed us to get up the pitch and go direct. Not pretty to watch and dull but the but also the best approach to help achieve our goals.

    Also with Cook let’s not forget he had (I think) 11 goals at this point last season and finished with 12 or 13? We shouldn’t pretend he is simply the answer but Hughes will restore him to the lineup at the right time. Probably at home 15K singing his name.

    Last night we were without Chapman and Banks. Wright has gone and Walker suspended. Our 4 most dangerous attacking options unavailable and no team would be unaffected by that.

    For those who quote Chapman’s stats at me, I agree he must have more end product but what he does by carrying the ball commits players and allows space for others.

    PPs 1 in 21 was mentioned above which I believe coincided with the sale of Wells? We were overly dependent on him (also look at Windass sale in our relegation to L2). Our best attacking displays were built around Wright this year. we are better placed to cope but Hughes needs to find the answer and, just as PP did, he will – just hopefully quicker to keep our place in the promotion race!

  18. Doesn’t matter if it’s Oliver or Cook up front – last few weeks we have had ZERO width.

    Playing FAR too narrow for a 1-up-top formation and teams put 2 or 3 on our striker all the time to nullify the threat.

    Losing Wright is the BIGGEST problem we have – Eisa shows promise but not on the same level – Pereria? Don’t get me started on this watse of space this season! – Banks, we desperately need him back and need to give this other new loan a start out wide.

    But we simply need some true PACE in the team. Everything is SLOW – even our throw-ins. When was the last time we took one quickly to catch teams out??

    We also really missed Chapman’s quality on the ball on Tues night – he’s the one that gets things moving across the pitch switching play, just doesn’t score enough himself.

    If we don’t change quickly well will drop to mid-season obsurity again.

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