All 75 entries tagged Wheres The Midfield

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August 10, 2007

It's like Christmas

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 months since the last entry. Usually the footballing close season of an ‘odd numbered’ year drags on since there is no summer football tournament to watch. This summer has been largely occupied by work, job interviews, writing papers and research proposals (on waffle factor 10) and trying – and failing – to avoid the rain.

Tomorrow being the 11th of August means it’s time for the football season to begin again. It’s a little bit like Christmas eve when you are 4 years old. And for once there might just be a little cause for optimism. After a 3rd relegation in 6 years, BCFC now reside in the old Division 4, for the first time since 1982. The spectacular implosion of last season (1 win in 17 home games, 4 in 34 overall) has meant widespread changes again, not least in the managers chair. Somehow, chairman Julian Rhodes has managed to persuade The Ginger One to make a 3rd Coming in BD8. Ginger Wayne is back as the assistant manager. New co-chairman Mark Lawn has written off the debts, meaning the club is essentially debt free. We’ve slashed the prices of season tickets, selling more than 12,000, meaning there might be an atmosphere for a change. Will there be a winning team?

In
Darren Williams (from Hartlepool, free). Signed as a right back, the ominous phrase “utility defender” has been attached. Not very tall
Paul Heckingbottom (from Barnsley, 6 month loan). A fabulously Northern name, and player of the year in 2003-4 which wasn’t saying much. Has been given the chop by Barnsley, and forms part of the very old back 4 that has no pace at all.
Paul Evans (from Swindon, free). Like Hecky above, left in the 2nd administration in 2004. Excellent from set pieces and once had an on-pitch scuffle with assistant manager Jacobs. We need 10 goals from him
Peter Thorne (Norwich, free). Once scored 30 in a season for Stoke, now spent most of the last year in the treatment room in Norwich, scoring a whopping 2 goals in 42 appearances. Is already injured…
Barry Conlon (Mansfield, free). Signed to be the “Big Forrad”, knows this division very well. Is prematurely bald
Alex Rhodes (Brentford, free). Has been signed to fill the problem left wing position, where there has been a gap since idiotic Scotsman Jim Jefferies decided Peter Beagrie’s “legs had gone”. Coincidentally has the same name as the chairman’s wife…
Guylain Nbumbu-Nsungu (Gillingham, 6 month loan). French striker who Gills fans are euphoric to see the back of. Has been signed for being “fast, but wildly erratic”. Had a couple of productive spells in this division. Is apparently known as “Big Dave”
Scott Phelan (Everton, free). Captain of the Everton reserves, and has represented England at junior level. We’ve been here before with ex Evertonians. If he is like a pre-injury Kearney, this is good. If he is like the latter-day Schumacher this is less good…
Kyle Nix (unattached). Once played for Aston Villa and Sheffield United at junior level (from where McCall knows him), more recently he has been playing in the Rotherham Sunday League. Has been given a monthly contract, but no squad number.
Nathan Joynes (Barnsley, loan). Spent last season on loan at Halifax and Boston. Has not shown up very well in preseason….
Thomas Harban (Barnsley, loan). Spent last season on loan at Tamworth. You know you’ve fallen a long way when Barnsley are using you as a feeder club for untried kids.

Out
Marc Bridge-Wilkinson (Carlisle, free). Very skilful and excellent dead ball striker, wanted to play in central midfield all the time despite being very flimsy. Not to be missed
Steven Schumacher (Crewe, free). Went seriously downhill after a good 2004-5, to the point where he gave fans the 2 fingered salute at Chesterfield when relegation was confirmed.
Richard Edghill (Macclesfield, free). Another entry for the “worst right back I have ever seen” awards. Will not be missed at all.
Russell Howarth (released). Reserve keeper to Ricketts. Couldn’t catch a cold.
Ben Muirhead (Rochdale, free). Expect him to run rungs round us when we play ‘Dale, and then revert to “Run Forrest, Run!” in the other 44 games

The team
As with last year, the first 11 looks good. But there is precious little else behind it when injuries and suspensions begin to hit home. Eddie Johnson has been moved back into midfield and looks at home there. If he and Evans can get 20 goals between them, and Conlon/Thorne/Big Dave get 30 ish we might be nearly there. Omar Daley has had a good preseason and looks the most dangerous player and he has a scorching long range shot. Worries remain about the lack of pace in the defence (and their age), and goalkeeper Ricketts needs to forget his annus horriblis of last year, in which an awful lot of shots went straight through him. How will they do? I think 3rd, behind (don’t laugh) “Big Spending” Peterborough and the MK Dons.


April 21, 2007

Cheery O's

Bradford City 0

Leyton Orient 2 Alexander 62, Tann 65

Attendance: 10,655

Ouch. In a season of lows, a new one. A crushing, hammer-blow of a result. All told, nothing short of a miracle is needed to avoid relegation now, and it would pretty well be confirmed by a Cheltenham win at already-relegated Rotherham next week, irrespective of our result at Chesterfield. Buoyed by last week’s win at Brighton and other favourable results, a win today would have seen City leapfrog their opponents out of the bottom four, and swing the goal difference in our favour, and with a game at Chesterfield an escape looked on.

But ‘if’ is the biggest word in football. We wondered what approach Orient would take; a draw would suit them nicely. And so they sat back with 9 men behind the ball. They time wasted from the off (there were 10 minutes of added time in the match). But City, urged on by a far larger crowd than usual, repeatedly carved them open with fast counterattacks.

In the first five minutes, Weir-Daley broke down the right for Paynter to be denied by a fine block by the keeper’s left hand. Weir-Daley had good movement, but his control was generally terrible, and frequent breaks petered out as he struggled to maintain possession. Omar Daley was also lively down the right, but his main first half contribution was on the left, where he danced past three players, to make it into the 6 yard box. With 3 players to square it to, he shot straight at the keeper from a yard. Disbelief all round. Weir-Daley was then played through the inside left channel where keeper Garner had committed to come and meet him. Weir-Daley reached the ball first but horribly sliced his attempted lob. Orient threatened only once, when a long ball caught the wind and bounced over Ricketts and towards goal before he recovered. But that was their only attempt, seemingly more content to spoil. They should have been 2 or 3 down at the break.

But as so often post 2001, a slow start to the second half proved crucial. Maybe Orient had been given a bit of a kick up the backside, but City couldn’t get the ball off them. And after 62 minutes; calamity. A misplaced pass towards Daley was inexcusably given up by the winger. The ball was worked down the Orient left for Gary Alexander to hit a strike from the angle of the 6 yard box with his weaker left foot. Which went straight through Ricketts’ hands and into the roof of the net. Three minutes later, it was game over. The utterly useless Parker dallied in the left back position, giving away an entirely needless free kick. A standard far post free kick saw the ball knocked down for midfielder Tann to find the net unopposed from almost on the goal line. Apart from the knot of Orient fans at the far end, the vociferous home crowd was silenced. Some of the part timers left there and then.

They had the right idea. The stuffing was knocked out of both team and fans. City didn’t trouble the visitors’ rearguard in the next 30 minutes as the afternoon descended back into the desperate, rudderless, mis-shapen rabble we’ve seen since October. Another poor side goes home laughing with 3 points to add to Brighton, Northampton, Crewe, Doncaster, Huddersfield and the rest

This season is proving a treasure trove of statistics. After a run of 12 home games unbeaten, we’ve now won 1 of the next 16, the sole win being more than 4 months ago. All told, since the Huddersfield game, it’s been 5 wins in the last 32. A third relegation in six years. David Wetherall is highly likely to be the first player to have played for us in all 4 divisions. In reverse order. I haven’t seen a win in seven months.

Where now? The basement is the obvious answer, for the first time in 25 years. The fear is they could, the mess the club is in, be down there for that long. The football in this division is atrocious, so the mind boggles what the like of Accrington, Rochdale and Barnet will bring. It won’t be many away supporters, that’s for sure. And so as gate receipts fall, so the club can’t afford the high earners. So once again, players are shed, to be replaced by cheaper ones who naturally aren’t as good and so the league position suffers some more and so further down the spiral we go. Of the playing squad, I might keep 5 players; Wetherall, Bower, Youga, Paynter and Eddie Johnson, who looked very tidy in central midfield rather than up front. Let’s not forget, the club doesn’t even own Paynter and Youga. So that’s three of them…as for the rest, most will end up at Halifax or somewhere.

The clearout shouldn’t be limited to the playing staff. Julian Rhodes and his steering committee may have saved the club in the administration crisis of 2004, but what have they achieved since? What money have Jim Brown (lets not forget as chairman he saw Halifax relegated from the league TWICE) and friends put into the club? What do the board of directors do? Are they “yes men” for the chairman?

At every point where a strategic decision had to be made, they have got it hopelessly, incompetently wrong. Granted, debt-rescheduling payments as a result of the CVA have had to be made, but we were told, post 2004, that the break-even attendance flgure was 7,500, and the club had “a clean slate”. The average attendances since then have been 8,839 in 2005, 8,265 in 2006 and this year it’s 8,765, yet the club continued to lose money. We were told, pre-Christmas, that the club was going to lose 600k this year, then in January we are told there are bills to pay. Jermaine Johnson was sold for £450k, Windass loaned to Hull (for a reported £100k+ fee), and now we are set to make a loss of £600k?! To get rid of the two best players in the team when it was in mid-table and struggling- allied to losing Nathan Doyle- was just insane. Sacking Todd and putting Wetherall in charge meant he had to drop himself; another of the best players gone. And as a direct consequence, the results since February have been dismal.

The club doesn’t own the ground (having fallen out with the previous owner/chairman, and now must pay £300k a year rent), doesn’t own the block that contains the club shop and ticket office (sold and re-rented), has franchised out the club shop and banqueting suite revenues for flat fees (plus a percentage of revenue received). Where has that money gone? And now the company that sponsors the stadium has been hit with a winding up petition. Add to that Peter Etherington and his disappearing ”£2.5M” fiasco of last summer, and his alienation of long-standing sponsors such as JCT600. It seems that in sheer desperation the club is jumping into bed with some very shady characters. And the “April Fool” PR gaffe did nothing for the mood of the natives. Or going on a skiing holiday while the club lost 2 hugely important games. Rhodes may be a fan, but in his stewardship he’s been at best naive and worst incompetent. In the event of the “10,000 season tickets for £138” promise, where is the contingency plan if, as seems likely, the 10,000 figure isn’t reached?

His defenders say “but there wouldn’t be a club without him”. Maybe not, but the way things are going, in a year or two there might not be one at all. The club owns nothing but the name of the club, a share in the league and a miserable rag-bag of players, widely condemned as “the worst team in 25 years”. Because they are. The chairman should do the noble thing and fall on his sword and sell up. But given all of the above, what successful business man in his right mind would invest? Everyone knows you don’t go into football to make money, but you can’t run a club that has no assets and has no control over the revenue it does create.

I might seem Mr. Angry in light of all of the above, but I’ve written this entirely calmly and rationally. What would make me buy a season ticket for next season? Nothing short of an immediate and complete clean sweep from the very top down, and someone in the hotseat who looks like he/she knows what he/she is doing. If it means everyone in the building gets their P45 well then so be it. Else the downward spiral will continue.

Bradford (4-4-2): Ricketts – Edghill, Wetherall, Bower, Youga (Colbeck) – Daley, Schumacher, Johnson, Parker – Weir-Daley, Paynter. Subs not used: Howarth, Penford, Clarke, Bentham.

Orient (4-4-2): Garner – Barnard, Mackie, Thelwell, Lockwood (Miller) – Tudor, Guttridge, Chambers, Tann – Alexander, Jarvis (Ibehre). Subs not used: Morris, Saah, Corden.

MOTM: Johnson. Just shaded Youga. Shame about some of their teammates.


March 17, 2007

Negativity

Follow-up to Positivity! from The Ginger Revolution

Bradford City 1 Paynter 62

Northampton Town 2 Johnson 64, Deuchar 87

Attendance: 8,140

So predictably unpredictable. We should all know better by now. Can they do it again on Saturday?

In a way, I suppose they did. There are three things certain in life; death, taxes, and wildly fluctuating performances in BD8. On the way to the ground we were discussing the last time I saw us win. It’s nearly 6 months since. I suppose, given Tuesday’s win, that retaining the shape and dramatis personae was a sensible thing to do. However, while the numbers 2, 3, and 5 are not that scary to most normal people, rearrange them into a particular order and to any Bradford fan it’s a like a wooden stake through Dracula. The last time we played 3-5-2 was 10 years ago in our last succesful relegation escape; we persisted with it for 44 games, got damned near relegated, changed to 4-4-2 and won 2 games in a row to stay up, something they didn’t do all season.

It was clear it had been done to match up formations with the visitors, as it had been on Tuesday. However, Northampton were better at it. That’s not to say they were good. They weren’t. Just the latest in a very very long line of teams to come to these parts very low on skil, technical merit and aesthetic appeal but high on physical fitness, organisation, and being…er…’competitive’. And it became plain after about 10 minutes that this was going to be another one of those afternoons.

The conditions of howling gale and bouncy pitch made for difficult football, but you don’t need an IQ of anywhere near 100 to realise that if the ball is on the floor the wind isn’t going to affect it more than if you try and hoof it long down the field. And so the first half was devoid of almost anything vaguely resembling excitement. Bentham nearly headed an own goal at a corner, the ball going inches over, but that was it. The only relief was that Captain Moan wasn’t sitting to our left. “Son of” was having a good go in his stead though. The good thing was the crowd was behind the team. Had a Colin Todd team served it up it would have been met with cacophonous booing (if that’s possible when the ground isn’t even a third full…).

So to the second half. Not much happened. Then some rank bad defending let the Northampton striker Robertson amazingly sidefoot wide seconds after he’d been denied by keeper Ricketts from point blank range. A turning point? It seemed so, as 5 minutes of pressure was capped by Paynter heading in unmarked from 12 yards from Bridge-Wikinson’s corner. Maybe the lucky 1997 shirt was paying off after all. But here’s why I’m really annoyed today. Rather than take responsibility and take control of the game, the response was predictable; sit back and let the other side have the ball. And so 90 seconds later with about a million (alright I exaggerate, about 20) chances to clear their lines, defending so bad that shock has erased it from my memory let midfielder Johnson lash in from 6 yards.

And that was that. City put in a last 30 minutes worse than the first half. It looked like a point was going to be coming for a poor performace, but Northampton had the freedom of their right wing to counterattack and Kenny Deuchar – otherwise dreadful – steered home from 6 yards. Stunned silence all around. Wetherall went up front in injury time, but more long balls were gleefully dealy with by the obligatory man-mountain centrebacks.

On the radio after the game, Wetherall says he saw “lots of positives”. I saw one; Billy Paynter. Kicked from pillar to post, he didn’t give up. Others did…time to get the knives out. Steven Schumacher had a pop at people this week in the local newspaper for “saying bad things about us, like we don’t care”. Well Steven, if you think yourself, Craig Bentham, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Joe Colbeck and Ben Parker can be called professional footballers this evening you’re gravely mistaken. You’re flimsy, spineless, charlatan impostors of footballers that should all be drilled out of the club at the end of the season, irrespective of what division we are in. Even the most basic of skills are missing, they can’t pass, tackle or control a ball. Some couldn’t even trap a bag of cement.

How on earth Schumacher captained England at under-20 level is a mystery up there with dark matter, the Higgs Boson and string theory. Similarly, Parker has the positional play of a pub player who’s been out on the lash the night before (both goals from his side again) and Bentham and Colbeck have done the usual thing our youth products do in the main, and that’s go backwards in their second season. But the trouble is because there is noone else in the squad, they will be picked as a matter of course. Followed by more glib platitudes in the (never even remotely critical) paper about how “we’ll turn it round next week. That wasn’t the real us. To say it doesn’t hurt isn’t true” etc etc etc

In 1997, there were the likes of John Dreyer, Eddie Youds, Nigel Pepper, Edinho, Wayne Jacobs, and others. Not the best footballers, but they fought. I remember a game at Tranmere on a Friday night. We lost 3-0 and relegation seemed certain but they kept going to the very very end. They got a standing ovation from 3,500 travelling supporters. I can accept losing. I can’t and won’t accept doing so without a fight. I bet there weren’t 3,500 people in the ground at the end today. If today is a yardstick for the rest of the season, we’d better be dusting off the map to glamorous places like Dagenham, Rochdale, Accrington, Macclesfield and the like.

I feel sorry for some in the team; principally those either side of the midfield. The defenders are offered no protection and the forwards are given no service. All that remains at the end of the year is a huge clearout. Of the entire weakness-in-depth playing staff, how many would you keep? Bower, Wetherall, Ricketts (at a push), Paynter (not even our player!). Whoever takes over has an onerous task, whichever division it’s in….

MOTM: Youga. Kept his head under aerial bombardment. Honourable mention to Paynter. The rest of them were rubbish.

Bradford (3-5-2): Ricketts – Youga, Wetherall, Bower – Colbeck, Schumacher, Bentham (Barrau), Bridge-Wilkinson, Parker – Paynter, Ashikodi. Subs not used: Howarth, Daley, Johnson, Ainge.

Northampton (3-5-2): Bunn – Hughes, Doig, Pearce – Crowe, Hunt, Gilligan, Bradley, Holt – Robertson (Kirk), Deuchar (Taylor). Subs not used: Dunn, Aiston, Dyche.


March 14, 2007

Positivity!

So predictably unpredictable. We should all know better by now. Can they do it again on Saturday?


February 22, 2007

Some people have too much time on their hands

Three cheers for the internet for providing moments of joy when you’re under the weather…

DirtyLeeds


February 12, 2007

Out of the blue

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/b/bradford_city/6354497.stm

So it finally happened. Captain Beige Colin Todd got the sack, after a run of 3 wins from the last TWENTY matches. In some ways, it was an impossible job, especially after having lost his 3 best players in the transfer window. Certainly, losing the star creative player and top scorer precipitated a further downturn in results, leaving us only 3 points from the drop zone.

His first season, after the turmoil of the 2004 close season saw a comfortable 11th placed finish when all the bookies (and some of us) had us down for a difficult season post relegation and administration. Similarly, 2005-6 saw us finish 11th. This was not so good, but a season blighted by two or three chronically useless new signings put paid to the top 6. This year has been mad; starting the season like a train, only for it to be a false dawn to end them all. Now we look nervously over our shoulders at the bottom 4…

David Wetherall has been put in temporary charge. It’ll be interesting to see whether he plays or not.

But already, the rumour mill is in full swing. Who’s out of work? Who would want a job at a club with no money in a seemingly endless downward spiral?
Lets examine a few categories (with help from the League Manager’s Association website) of would be managers…

The One The Fans All Want: The Third Coming
Stuart McCall. Promotion winning hero (x 2). Currently assistant manager at Sheffield United. Would be utterly mad to come back to the club in the present shambolic state.

Other Ex-Players On/Off The Managerial Merry-Go-Round
Chris Wilder/Wayne Jacobs. Both ex-City players, and currently the managerial duo at Halifax, having got them to the Conference Playoffs last year. Would be cheap, but Ginger Wayne is popular -though not with the gentleman that sits 3 seats to my left at home games....
Lee Sinnott. Presided over non-League Farsley Celtic’s rise up the Unibond leagues.
Peter Beagrie. Hugely popular for his role in 1998-2001, even more so because Colin Todd and he didn’t get on. Previously player coach at Scunthorpe.
Terry Dolan. Now manager of non-league Guiseley, warmly remembered for the McCall-Hendrie side of 1987-88. Not so fondly remembered in Hull…

Managers Once Highly Thought Of But Now Fallen On Hard Times
Iain Dowie. Would he seriously even look at our job?
Mickey Adams. Done well whereever he’s been but not too popular of late in these parts.
Andy Ritchie. Got Barnsley out of this division last year, before harsh sacking
Phil Parkinson. Rumoured player revolt saw him leave Hull just 6 months after his protracted move from Colchester

Dear Lord No, And I Might Never Buy Another Season Ticket, Ever
Gary Megson, Carlton Palmer, Kevin Blackwell, Howard Wilkinson, Nicky Law, Peter Reid, David O’Leary, Bryan Robson, Alan Ball, Sven-Goran Eriksson


February 03, 2007

Brucie Bonus

Bradford City 2 Dyer 8, Paynter 89

Nottingham Forest 2 Tyson 10, Lester 18

Attendance 10,160

Bradford have had a difficult week; having lost both Nathan Doyle and Jermaine Johnson in addition to the departure of Windass the week before it was all change today. For yours truly, a first chance to see 4 new players: Omar Daley, our new right winger signed from Charleston Battery ; Bruce Dyer loan from Doncaster; Billy Paynter on loan from Southend; and Kelly Youga – quite possibly the first footballer from the Central African Republic to ever play for Bradford, and likely the first ever player called Kelly – on loan from Charlton. Doyle would be replaced at right back by Richard Edghill. Not something to put the locals at their ease…

From the off, the game was open. Both sides committed to attack, and City took the lead after 8 minutes. Not for the first time, Daley raced clear on the right and put in a fantastic cross for Paynter. His header was saved by visiting keeper Smith, but the rebound was headed goalwards by Dyer, and despite the efforts of a defender that caused him to hit post and bar, the goal was given.

The advantage was given up straight away. Almost from the kick off, Bentham gave the ball away (for neither the first nor last time), Forest swept forwards and Tyson outpaced the labouring centrebacks to beat Ricketts and score off the post. The game swung Forest’s way, City unable to retain the ball. And yet 8 minutes later when Lester received the ball with back to goal, there seemed no danger. Except Wetherall and Edghill just stopped and allowed him to turn and beat Ricketts without a challenge. And then back to the usual routine; inability to do any of the important things at all. They were fortunate to go in only 1 behind at half time.

The second half was attritional and scrappy, and Bridge-Wilkinson seemed to give up with 25 minutes to go. Unacceptable. Right then, it looked like there was going to be a long 4 months to the end of the season. Yet City graduallly edged far enough forwards to start to threaten. They were presented with a golden chance to equalise 10 minutes from time when keeper Smith’s awful clearance was squared by Paynter to Daley, who blazed wide with the whole of the goal to aim at.

The game opened up; City went to 3 up front, and Dobie thought he’d scored when he broke away from Bower and chipped over the advancing Ricketts, only for Edghill to clear off the line (the only positive thing he did in an otherwise nightmarish afternoon). Then, from a similar breakaway Ricketts denied Grant Holt with a brilliant block when you’d put your house on him scoring. There was a long remonstration between the Forest keeper and his centrebacks over them defending too deep in a goalmouth scramble. And then with a minute to go, in an almost identical situation, Edghill’s high ball to the far post was headed down by Dyer for Paynter to score from 6 yards.

Forest should be sick. Here was an easy three points in the bag, but they seemed to be more content to sit back and time waste than grab the game and finish it. For City, well done for those that kept going – particularly the front two who had almost no service all afternoon. But a midfield clearout is badly needed; none of the current personnel seem to be up to it.

MOTM: Youga. Bizarrely replaced with 20 minutes to go, because the manager thought “he was struggling”. Struggling???!

Bradford (4-4-2): Ricketts – Edghill, Wetherall, Bower, Youga (Parker) – Daley, Bentham (E. Johnson), Schumacher, Bridge-Wilkinson – Paynter, Dyer. Subs not used: Hibbert, Muirhead, Howarth.

Forest (4-3-1-2): Smith – Curtis, Morgan, Breckin, Bennett – Perch, Clingan, Prutton – Lester – Holt (Chambers), Tyson (Dobie). Subs not used: Holt, McGugan, Agogo


January 25, 2007

Goal of the century

January 25th 1997

Everton 2 O’Brien o.g. 54, Speed 90

Bradford City 3 Dreyer 49, Waddle 51, Steiner 59

Attendance: 30,007

Yes, time for more BCFC related nostalgia. Ten years ago this very day, a huge cup shock, with what should have been goal of the season (yet didn’t even make goal of the month). On paper, this was a mis-match. City were in the bottom 3 of the Championship, having struggled desperately post-Wembley promotion. Everton were only 19 months out from having won the FA Cup against Man Utd in 1995…

City persisted with the fashionable 3-5-2 system (almost until it was too late in the league), hoping to pack the midfield and frustrate. Cheered on by 6,000 travelling fans half-time came with only 1 real scare, a fine tip-over from Mark Schwarzer denying Duncan Ferguson’s header. Yet having drawn 0-0 at half time, manager Chris Kamara withdrew Hamilton and Kiwomya for Wembley scorer Stallard and the always entertaining Liburd.

And 4 minutes into the second half, complete disbelief. A scramble on the edge of the area led to John ‘Tumble’ Dreyer, normally a centreback but deployed in front of the back 3, rifling in a half volley from 20 yards. But that was nothing in comparison to what followed.

Everton piled forward and won a corner. The move broke down, and City counterattacked. The ball ended up with Andrei Kanchelskis on the half way line, with noone behind him. Not being used to playing in such a position, he dallied on the ball and was ambushed by Swedish striker Rob Steiner…the ball rolled to Chris Waddle (in his late thirties, but still our best player by a mile) in the centre circle...who saw Neville Southall in his own penalty arc…and hit it first time.

It sailed goalwards, over the stranded keeper, clearing the underneath of the bar by centimetres and hitting the back of the net 6 feet up. Stunned silence. Following by mad cheering from the visiting hordes from Yorkshire. The best goal in the world, ever.

Everton were now really mad. Again they threw everyone forward, and following a header down from Ferguson, 17-year-old Andy O’Brien misdirected the ball past his own keeper. If you listen hard enough, Keith Coates (legend) – the commentator on the club video – is heard to remark “oh, s—t”. Here we go, we’ll lose 3-2. Yet the next meaningful attack saw Waddle send Steiner through a hopelessly square back 4, outpacing the ancient legs of Dave Watson to coolly beat Southall again. Delirium in the stands. Steiner’s best performance for the club by some distance; a mobile, aggressive, strong centre-forward – oh for one now!

The next 30 minutes were spent in a furious rearguard action, with Ferguson mostly marked by 2 players. We looked like we had got away with it only for ex-dirty-Leeds man Gary Speed to fluke a deflected one in from the left touchline in injury time. But it was the last meaningful kick of the game.

To give the Everton fans credit, they gave the City players a good hand as they left the pitch. We’d lose in the 5th round to a very poor Sheffield Wednesday side, and it would be the last time we had any sort of a cup-run. 10 years since the last cup-run!

The epilogue; what should have been the BBC’s goal of the season ended up losing the goal of the month contest to Trevor Sinclair’s spectacular (but entirely speculative) overhead kick for QPR against Barnsley on the same afternoon. A travesty. Biased? Me?

Everton (4-4-2): Southall – Barrett, Watson, Short, Phelan (Grant) – Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Stuart, Speed – Barmby, Ferguson. Subs not used: Gerrard, Unsworth.

City (3-1-4-2): Schwarzer – Mohan, Sas, O’Brien – Dreyer – Hamilton (Liburd), Duxbury, Waddle, Jacobs – Kiwomya (Stallard), Steiner. Sub not used: Pinto


December 30, 2006

Bad Wether

Bradford City 2 Wetherall 15, J. Johnson 65 (Wetherall sent off 56)

Cheltenham 2 Finnigan (pen) 57, Odejayi 60 (Spencer sent off 90)

Attendance: 7,264

[For those not interested in yet another rant in its entirety, the game can be described in one word; desperate]

Todays ironic quotation is taken from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus. In the review of the footballing year, in September Donovan Ricketts said

It’s better this year. The fans are behind us now, they don’t boo at half-time anymore.

No, now we boo during the match and at the end…..

Tis the season to be jolly? Oh no it isn’t! Just when you thought you couldn’t see as bad a performance as on Boxing day, along comes another. Cheltenham had taken 7 points from the previous 51 (thats P17 W2 D1 L14), and, with the exception of their front two, looked like it. Cannon fodder for the rest of the division, City didn’t have a clue.

In mitigation, the conditions weren’t great for football today. Driving rain made for very heavy going on the pitch. For 15 minutes nothing at all of note happened. Then, from Bridge-Wilkinson’s free kick, chaos in the Cheltenham ranks, a fumble by the keeper, and Wetherall smuggled in his first goal of the season. A bit of a shock to the fans who’d seen 7 failures to score in the previous 9. But City didn’t get the second goal, and Cheltenham edged back into it before half time, forcing several corners, and keeper Ricketts being kept on his toes by the dangerous frontmen of Cheltenham.

Into the second half, and it all came unstuck. Rather than keep the ball, the midfield reverted to the tried-and-trusted “hoof it long and make JJ chase” tactic. Didn’t work! Instead, Wetherall (having been booked for taking him out in the first half) felled the lively Odejayi in the penalty area, resulting in a second yellow. For all the referee’s ineptitude today it was the right decision, Wethers does now have the turning circle and pace of a supertanker and Odejayi was far too fast for him all day

Visiting skipper Finnigan could count himself fortunate with the resulting penalty going through both of Ricketts’ hands. There didn’t seem to be much organisation at the back in the aftermath of the dismissal, and watching the second Cheltenham goal unfold was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Bridge-Wilkinson had moved from left-midfield to right-back, Cheltenham piled in unopposed down the left, and two players were unmarked for the cut-back from the goalline. The first horribly miscued, but you could see the second player lurking right behind him, and Odejayi curled home a fine shot into the bottom left corner. Boos echoing round the stands, chants of “Todd Out” clearly audiblle.

What to do if you are a BCFC player? If you are David Graham, you (allegedly) respond to general dissatisfaction from the crowd to you by giving “the two-fingered salute” to the home fans behind the goal. Who were not amused, to put it mildly. He was almost immediately replaced. Good. Let the malingering, unmotivated mule go back to Sheffield Wednesday reserves to count his money. For the “on loan hall of donkeys”, that one.

City rearranged into a 3-4-2 formation; Bower flanked by Parker and Doyle, Colbeck on the right, and JJ went up front. At last some pace up front!! And within 5 minutes it paid off. Windass flicked on yet another long ball and Johnson raced into the area to beat the keeper. And that was pretty much that really, with the exception of a glaring miss by visiting striker Spencer who, faced only with the keeper fired well wide when unmarked 6 yards out. Spencer was then dismissed in the 90th minute for a wild lunge on Bentham, his second yellow of the afternoon.

Another very unhappy day at the office. Midfield was abominable again. And compare the two teams strikers. What we have been missing all season was writ large this afternoon; mobile, strong, fast strikers will give teams problems. Short, slow, old ones won’t.

More boos at the final whistle; we still need you-know-who.

MOTM: Bower, for keeping things together when all around him was chaos

City (4-4-2): Ricketts – Doyle, Wetherall, Bower, Parker – J. Johnson, Schumacher, Bentham, Bridge-Wilkinson – Windass, Graham (Colbeck). Subs not used: Howarth, Edghill, Brown, Ainge.

Cheltenham (4-4-2): Higgs – Caines, Duff, Townsend, Wilson – Melligan, Connolly, Gill, Finnigan (Yao) – Odejayi, Spencer. Subs not used: Brown, Gillespie, Guinan, Foley.


December 26, 2006

Heffed Off

Bradford City 0

Doncaster Rovers 1 Heffernan 14

Attendance 10,069

Lets look back at something we (rather foolishly) said here back in September:

Early days admittedly, but there is something different about this season. Two wide players who are a real threat to the opposition and not a hindrance to their own side makes such a difference. And a striker to partner Windass who can score goals is a real help. The next 3 games are a much sterner test, but if they come through, a good season looks on the cards. Only 2 clouds on the horizon; the left-back slot is still a problem position, and the loan players may all leave in January. But enjoy it while the sun shines. This was so much different to the last 3 or 4 years.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. How it has all come unstuck again. New Year’s Resolution: Not to waste any more time travelling up here to watch games. I’ll go and watch the Cheltenham game on Saturday, because I’m here, but I’m not wasting another penny piece this season on coming to anymore games.

It was so grandly inept today as to almost defy lucid description. To describe them as a rudderless, leaderless, disorganised shower is not overstating the case. From the word go, only one side ever looked like scoring. They wore all blue, but that’s where the Chelsea comparison ends. Doncaster were efficient, but no more. They didn’t have to get out of first gear today, and so yet more points leave VP. This division is the pits. The standard of football is generally awful, 20 sides are as good (or is that as bad?) as each other, yet we cannot put these sides under any consistent pressure at all, especially in midfield areas.

“Oh”, I hear the reader say, “here he goes again”. Damn right he does. The Bradford City midfield cannot pass water, tackle their way out of a wet paper bag, or cross a road. The only thing they can press is the self-destruct button. Most matches are lost before a ball is kicked one way or another. Carlton Palmer may look like Ronaldinho in comparison. JJ, so often the only threat to teams this season, looked very disinterested today. Schumacher was nothing short of atrocious, Bentham battled away but 3 games into his season after 4 months out injured it was a struggle for him, and MBW, shunted out to the left was horribly ineffectual.

So it came to pass that with noone pressing the ball, Doncaster worked a throw-in 25 yards from goal down the right, and without a tackle in sight, Paul Green crossed and Paul Heffernan headed in from 6 yards. Game over. After 14 minutes. Doncaster should really have added to the score when Forte fired wastefully over from 6 yards after City were carved apart down their right. But apart from that, Ricketts had not a lot to do. But the visiting keeper had even less.

Second half should have been time for the kitchen sink, but all the paying idiots Bradford public were treated to were aimless long balls at the ineffectual front two. Graham was replaced by Brown, but this is the footballing equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, I will make a professional centre forward before Joe Brown does. And yet with almost the last kick of the match, City nearly equalised, when MBW’s long distance free-kick crashed off the angle of post and bar in the 95th minute of the match. But that would have been a travesty.

We keep thinking it can’t get any worse, but it does. Someone said to me “it’s worse than Docherty or Law”. I wouldn’t have agreed with them then, but I do now. Where, on the pitch is the leader? Where is the beating heart that drives them forward and rallies them when trailing?

The club seems to be inexorably spiralling downwards, and no-one seems capable of stopping it, from the permanently invisible chairman, to the equally invisible board of directors, to the useless buffoon of a manager who insists that Matt Clarke or Mark Bower must be the overlapping left back, when they have played most of their career as a centre back and there is a left back on loan from Leeds who only gets a game on the left wing or centre midfield!

The apathy in the crowd today was remarkable. Most sat in near silence. The two biggest cheers of the afternoon were reserved for the score from Sunderland. Gallows humour was the only way to pass the time. A child played his Nintendo DS for about 25 minutes of the second half. I was sat there, like thousands of others, not vaguely interested in what the result was. As the song goes (rather ironically titled ‘Mess’)

There are rooms in this house, that I don’t open anymore
Dusty books of pictures on the floor

It is time for someone with the feelgood factor. Someone who is not on one last fat contract before he retires, and who actually cares. They could bring in some players with the same motivation and pride in the shirt, and the attitude of not giving anything less than 100%. It is time for The Ginger Prince. It is time for The Third Coming…

MOTM: Doyle. Says something when he was stretchered off after 75 minutes and he’s still MOTM. Oh for 10 other players with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm. And he’s not even our player!

Bradford (4-4-2): Ricketts – Doyle (Swift), Wetherall, Bower, Clarke – J. Johnson, Bentham, Schumacher, Bridge-Wilkinson – Windass, Graham (Brown). Subs not used: Howarth, Parker, Penford

Doncaster (4-4-2): Smith – O’Connor, Lee, Lockwood, Roberts – Forte (Guy), Wilson, Coppinger (Thornton), Green – Heffernan, McCammon. Subs not used: Budtz, Dyer, Noble.


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