The Width of a Post podcast #52: What was that substitution?

The new Width of a Post podcast is now available!

It’s all over for Bradford City. No trip to Wembley. No return to League One. The play off defeat to Carlisle United means they are facing a fifth straight season in League Two.

In this edition of the podcast Jason McKeown, Tim Penfold and Alex Scott analyse the two legs against Carlisle United and undercover where it all went wrong – including those debatable tactical decisions.

Also in this episode:

  • After a less than impressive end to the season, is the honeymoon period over for Mark Hughes?
  • Where did the club fall short, and how can they put it right in the summer?
  • Is the 2022/23 season as a whole one of progress, or an underachievement?

You can listen below on Soundcloud and it is also on iTunes:

Categories: Opinion, Uncategorized


20 replies

  1. Thank you for your reviews ,this season,and your podcasts.

  2. Clearly Hughes has taken a tremendous amount of criticism from many City fans since Saturday over the Banks substitution decision etc. However, few people are talking about City’s absent German owner – Stefan Rupp is generally benevolent, but he remains unengaged. By contrast I expect – for example – Gillingham (a much smaller club than City, of course) to challenge strongly next season because of their new and enthusiastic US owner who has an experienced team manager to work with in Neil Harris (ex-Millwall / Cardiff etc.). City would benefit enormously from this kind of engaged ownership (and the funding that tends to come with it, of course) – would be a huge boost for Hughes. Hoping for better times ahead next season.

    • Talking of ownership engagement also look at Wrexham and Salford for active stewardship. I suspect Rupp is biding his time while waiting for an acceptable offer. Lack of interest from Rupp is a drag on City’s progress.

      • Salford City currently boast a £13 million Directors Loan whilst we are debt free (see their published accounts). Let’s see how things pan out for the mighty Gills before we laud their new American owner who will not have known where Kent is never mind Gillingham. The Florida based PROPERTY developer has no previous interest in SOCCER btw🤔. You are right that ideally Rupp wants to sell and recoup some of his considerable investment at least. Fortunately he had the balls and the decency not to cut and run when WAGMI rocked up. Rhodes and Lawn managed to get the club to the cusp of L1 sustainably. The challenge is to replicate that achievement

      • Edit; cusp of the Championship

      • Hi Phil, Rupp gave Hughes a good budget to work with, that enabled him to recruit a sizeable squad.

        I don’t think we can blame Rupp for this season’s failure to progress into League One. The blame for that must surely be down to patchy recruitment, poor home form, overly cautious tactics and, ultimately, a failure to rise to the big occasion.

        The podcast referred to the video of the Jamie Raynor interview with Hughes, after the game and, watching it, it’s clear it was not only the players who struggled with the pressure, as he stumbled, unconvincingly, through the questions, lost his rag and then cut the interview short.

      • Paul, City are technically debt free since Rupp is sole owner. However, City are carrying a long term liability of £1.7 million owed to Rupp. This liability was paid from the McBurnie windfall yet the liability still remains on the books.

      • Brief further comment on the new US owner of Gillingham – apparently he spent a year in the UK during which time he identified GFC as a club with potential sufficient to justify his investment – one factor was GFC’s potential catchment area. Rupp certainly appears to be a man of integrity but sadly he seems absent and disengaged from Bradford City.

  3. Taking Banks off just after he created the goal was wrong in all sorts of ways. He created the goal and he’s buzzing. The team are buzzing. Carlisle are worried. Our adrenalin kicks in. Carlisle under pressure. Starts making mistakes. City most likely to score again. Hughes’ decision to substitute Banks for Pratt is the best possible outcome for Carlisle. Bizarre! For Mark Hughes to say “he was tired out” was treating every City supporter as idiots. Totally unacceptable. I would respect him if he held is hands up and says sorry to all Bradford City supporters, back room staff and players. I had a lot of time for Mark Hughes. But after Saturday’s game my respect has gone.

  4. I honestly can’t remember a more incompetent substitution.
    The only one that can slightly compare was Turnip Head taking Linekar off v Sweden in his last ever England match. For that he got internationally castigated.
    As you amazingly put it in the pod cast, this season we repeatedly ‘find a way to lose’. Exactly. With the pathetic Smallwood last minute….whatever it was….cross or shot…I’d say neither….the Sub, the time wasting in the first leg, no attempt to attack even at free kicks (nobody even in the box on 62 mins when we got a free kick), we repeatedly had to make it happen and it took an outrageous tactical move of subbing the best player for a defender whonwas right in the mix a few minutes later when we conceded the final nail in the coffin, but eventually we found a way to lose.
    But hey, we are a profitable, high turnover L2 club on the brink of possibly going up and with a miniscule attraction to a potential investor which I dare say would not be the case as a lower L1 team struggling for budget and far less attraction for a potential buyer.
    Is our own Turnip Head really so incompetent with his track record and tactical nous to repeatedly find so many ways to lose leads or give up the ghost, slumped in the corner of the dug out as he was throughout this two legged tie or were there other factors at play to influence such repeatedly poor results from a team who we have all seen play excellent football over the season.

  5. On the face of it the Banks substitution was bizarre. On the other hand maybe there was a logical reason for the decision. With regards ‘tiredness’ this is no longer a subjective matter and the tracking of heart rate data for individual players provides real-time feedback on fitness levels. I have used it for cycle racing to good effect and know that on hot days in particular you have to watch it carefully. Typically you track your recovery rate after peak bursts of effort and if the HR stays high it represents an indicator that you are likely to blow-out or worse in extreme situations. The athlete does not necessarily feel tired given the adrenalin rush – and may not look tired – but the data never lies.

    On Saturday I was sat behind MH with my wife in the main stand and we both noticed that immediately prior to his substitutions that MH and GH spent quite a bit of time in conversation with one of the fitness coaches who had a clipboard on each occasion. Given that the HR data is monitored during games I’d be massively surprised if MH wasn’t being kept appraised of the information and that it wasn’t being referred to. Hence when MH says that Banks was tired I suspect that the HR data is what he was referring to. At that stage of the game he likely thought that a substitution was the safest option whilst also allowing a potential penalty taker to get warmed up before a final shoot-out. The decision obviously didn’t work out but in my mind it can be forgiven if it was based on evidence that suggested it was necessary. The fact is that we don’t know.

    • But we do know that he replaced Banks with a central defender when the game was there to be won. That is the most frustrating thing concerning this whole substitution circus. Anyway we move on to supporting Spurs on Sunday instead of us and hope that we recruit well and most importantly get off to a good start next season instead of playing catch up. Thanks to all at WOAP for all the content, enjoy your summer.

    • We’d scored and had the lifeline of an opportunity to win the tie in extra time, without the lottery of going to penalties.

      We had the option of two attacking players on the bench to capitalise on the newly found momentum and Hughes puts a centre half on, so he can “warm up”, before taking a penalty!

      Come on, John, that explanation is as weak as MH’s unconvincing response to Jamie Raynor.

      Platt couldn’t even do the job he was put on for, to stop Carlisle’s third, never mind score from the spot.

      • Neither of us know the facts as to why that decision was made. Whilst you prefer to jump to a conclusion based on your fixed opinion about MH I am suggesting that there might have actually been a logical reason for the substitution. The point about HR metrics is plausible unless you are trying to tell me to the contrary based on your own expertise. Or maybe MH had sunstroke and lost the plot. Either way we don’t have the luxury of the facts at our disposal to conclude.

  6. …Another consideration. Scott Banks was not our player and accordingly BCAFC had a duty of care to Crystal Palace about his health and fitness. No doubt Crystal Palace officials would have been entitled to see fitness data about their player and let’s say that if Banks’ HR metrics were going off the scale on Saturday and being ignored by BCAFC officials, the club would have been subject to payment of damages if something went wrong. We simply don’t know.

  7. We can debate the Bank substitution until the start of next season but this is merely a small fraction of a season.
    We need to focus on the bigger picture. Seasons are not successful or failure based on one substitution.
    As I mentioned on on another article; over the course of the season we had a a poor home form which ultimately cost us promotion. Plus we relied way too much on Cook to score goals. It says a lot that the first goal scored by a defensive player was in the final weeks of the season.
    Regardless of the Banks sub, I thought we were poor all game last Saturday and we were lucky to drag the game into extra time.
    We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water here. We need to analyse the shortcomings of this season and strengthen for next season.

  8. John, what is indisputable is we replaced an attacker with a centre half, when a more positive option was available.

    An unsurprising move from a cautious minded manager

    • For all that we know MH might have had concerns about his defenders and felt that Platt could provide the necessary support at the back. He might equally have been concerned about how the balance of the side would be impacted by various permutations and considered Platt to be the best option. It can definitely be said that he took his time making the decision. We just don’t know the facts. It comes down to whether you are prepared to respect his judgement and give him benefit of the doubt and in that regard it is clear that we differ.

  9. Against Leyton Orient a similar substitution was made with I seem to remember three players coming on and off.
    It was unclear to the fans around me what shape and system was going to be used.
    Even worse it seemed that the players were unclear and having a discussion amongst themselves. Critchlow even came over to the dug out before going back on to explain to teammates what was required.
    So when Platt came on at Carlisle, it may well have been a defensive ploy but that worked well didn’t it?
    When the cross came in for Barclay to head the eventual winner, not one of our centre backs was near him..
    A case of ‘too many cooks’?
    One does wonder if we would have been better making an attacking change ( even if Banks needed to come off) as the change may have disrupted what has been a strong part of City’s season ( the centre defence).
    As JD says we are not party to all the facts and if the change had proved to be successful (Platt heading a late third and sending us through) we would not be having this conversation and MH would be lauded for his genius.
    That is football.

  10. If Banks was tired he would / should have been subbed during ET HT about three minutes earlier, just before he sprinted down the line absolutely roasting their LB for pace and burning into the box with a perfect cross before running off in celebration! 🙂

    The tiredness rationale makes no sense whatsoever. We can only hypothesise but it makes no sense. If he said he tweaked a muscle torchuring the LB fair enough but he didn’t.

    And bringing Platt on, who isnt even a penalty expert, and who stood by watching the goal a few minutes later, sorry, its an absolute disaster of a substitution and again makes no sense.

    I watched MOTD that night and the difference between us and the likes of Everton and Brighton, putting 100% into every tackle, pass and shot for victory, or even draws was plain to see and put us to shame. Quite concerning really.

    Judging by our players levels of effort, performance or managers tactics, we never wanted it over either leg, and fully deserved to get knocked out.

    How Carlisle didn’t put us to the sword a lot sooner lord only knows and shows what a poor division it actually is.

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