Issue Maintaining consistency – Bradford City vs Exeter City – League Two Preview 2008/2009

As told by Michael Wood

Consistency (con-sis-ten-cy)
noun for use in Professional Football
1 personal: To maintain outstanding levels of performance over the length of a career.
2 for a team: To win all the time without fail except – maybe – when playing Brazil.

The word of the week in seven days that have seen England revert to heroes from zeros and heard Mark Lawn tell all that Omar Daley has a release clause in his contract is been this football specific variation on consistency.

For England – as with all football teams – consistency is defined by winning every game in emphatic style. A subnote in the thrashing of Croatia was that the national side needed more of the C word which stuck one as odd considering that a consensus seemed to have emerged that the Three Lions played badly all the time.

Derby County were consistent last season in the Premiership – they got beat all the time – but that is never what is meant in the football world.

Likewise when players are called on to be consistent very few people are suggesting that they maintain average levels of performance week in, week out. Omar Daley’s work on the left wing in the first seven games of the season has been impressive to say the least and now there are calls for the Jamaican winger to be “consistent”.

Since his arrival in England at Preston then Reading and during his Bradford City career Daley has been the very model of inconsistency veering between the unplayable for defenders to the unplayable for managers and he has enjoyed these patches of blistering form that justify his games in the wilderness. These variations seem to be the nature of the beast and probably have as much to do with the size and agility of the full backs, the widths of pitches and the service of team mates as they do Omar’s attitude which is oft and justifiably criticised.

Nevertheless the calls for a consistent Omar are decoded as a request for the winger to continue his mesmerising play at least until Christmas when he can be sold to the Championship and Chris Brandon might be fit to replace him.

Brandon’s injury in a reserves win over Scunthorpe means he will not be making his long overdue Bradford City debut in the weekend tie with Exeter City and stays on the sidelines supporting the team he has always supported. Brandon no doubt appreciates what he is watching as much as the rest of the City fans. Being injured is no fun for any footballer but the pain of not playing on Saturday must be eased by seeing the side you should be in winning games.

Winning ways were re-established last weekend at Port Vale with Peter Thorne returning to scoring ways. Thorne speaks highly of his partnership with Michael Boulding which will continue when City face Exeter.

Another partnership that thrives is Lee Bullock and Paul McLaren who have worked out teething problems to build solidity. The challenge of playing at home against teams who pack defences has broken more midfield duos on the slide from grace than we – or Chris Brandon – care to recall but this pairing seem to enjoy holding the ball more than most which works well with the four other forward players attempts to make runs and find positions. Joe Colbeck and Omar Daley make those runs on the wings once more.

The back four continues to pick itself with the two Pauls Arnison and Heckingbottom at full back and Matthew Clarke and Graeme Lee in the middle. Rhys Evans has a clean sheet to build on from Port Vale.

All of which is consistency of a sort – how often has City’s one to eleven been so easy to name? – but the consistency City fans are hoping for is that definition of continued victory.

Exeter City – recently returning to the Football League – stand in the way. They have had an inconsistent start to the season losing three times at home but being unbeaten on their travels. They recorded a first win agianst Accrington Stanley last weekend and their promotion from the Conference last season gained them a reputation as hard to beat.

Nevertheless beat them City must – if only to maintain consistency.