Thanks to Deano addiction now has a purpose

Being a supporter of a football team (and having read Paul Firth’s excellent article, I use the word ‘supporter’ very carefully) is a careless addiction. Little did I know when my Dad carried me through the Kop turnstile as a four year old, that the slippery slope towards addiction had begun.

As is often the case with addicts, I’m not entirely sure when the ‘want’ to go to matches became a ‘need’ to go, but perversely, I’m fairly sure it was around the time that I stopped actually enjoying games involving my beloved Bantams. As anyone who has read Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, or indeed for anyone who follows City, will appreciate, football matches are not wholly enjoyable experiences.

It probably says quite a lot about our society that many of us persist in aligning ourselves with this painful ritual for forty weeks of every year. It’s the anticipation that I find so difficult to understand. The week prior to matches is spent in glorious anticipation of the weekend’s fixture; the previous weekend’s torture conveniently moved to another part of the brain.

After all this anticipation, the match itself should be a release. It isn’t. It’s a further build-up of tension and frustration, usually followed by disappointment, which reigns until the anticipation of yet another match kicks in. Victories are appreciated, but rarely enjoyed – the avoidance of the disappointment of defeat overriding the joy of victory… such is the strange and perverse world of the football supporter, or perhaps that’s just me.

But sometimes, just sometimes, one of those games comes along. A game that I enjoy. Strange as it may seem, I found yesterday’s victory over Macclesfield thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps expectations had dipped following the previous weeks’ debacles; perhaps the disappointment hadn’t given way to anticipation prior to kick-off; perhaps others felt just like me.

Or perhaps the answer is much simpler than that, and perhaps his name is Dean Furman. Here is a player who should be a crowd favourite for his effort alone. Yet Furman marries his endeavour with great skill and all the attributes of a complete midfield player. I thoroughly enjoy watching this guy play football. He clearly is too good for League Two but unlike other loan players who think they are too good for this level (and aren’t), playing for Bradford City seems to mean something to Furman.

I love the way he moves the ball, the way he passes, the way he tackles, the way he shoots. Common themes run through his play: a purpose, a determination, a grabbing the situation by the scruff of its neck and coming out on top. None more were his attributes displayed than two instances last night. Firstly, as City attacked the Bradford End, Macclesfield broke away with men over. As the ball was pushed past Furman he took down his man with no great subtlety and received a deserved booking. Not his greatest moment in many respects, but he did what was best for Bradford City in that situation and that’s just fine in my book.

Secondly, and more obviously brilliant, was his goal. Picking up the ball in midfield he drove with purpose at the blue wall in front of him, rolling the ball in to Boulding, who for once held off his man, before expertly playing the ball back into Furman’s path. The midfielder finished off expertly with his left foot to cap another brilliant performance. We look a really good team when we play with tempo and purpose. Dean Furman is the epitome of these attributes.

Last night’s performance was refreshing in the wake of a couple of horror-shows. I think (though I’m not entirely sure) that I may have still enjoyed last night’s performance had we not won, but I went away with a smile on my face following a great performance and a great victory. Another few smiles before May and we may be able to celebrate the avoidance of the disappointment of not gaining promotion!

It rains on the just and the unjust alike

A lesson: Nothing is every as bad or as good as it seems.

Two defeats on the road were supposed to have derailed the Bantams promotion bid however at the end of a frighteningly cold bordering gale evening City sit fifth three points away from the automatic promotion slots with a home game on Saturday.

That City ended the game was in large part down to Stuart McCall sending the Bantams out with a game plan and the players sticking to it.

The conditions saw every ball that went over shoulder height blown and blustered off course and given an element of unplayability which which was only countered with low, passing football which the Bantams steadfastly adhered to.

In the opening minute Steve Jones – who enjoyed perhaps his most disciplined, most useful game for the Bantams – got on the end of some useful play by Nicky Law Jnr on the left and took a heavy challenge in box. The referee ignored Jones’s half hearted appeals and his limp away but the scene was set for the ninety minutes of near constant City forward motion.

Macclesfield Town – managed by Keith Alexander in a way which is not impressing the locals – threatened little in the game and not at all in the first half when they played with the wind behind them. Alexander’s game plan involved long balls to strikers Gareth Evans and former City young player Emile Sinclair and very little else.

Alexander’s opposite number in the Bantams dug out had the luxury of better players more capable of using the ball on the ground and more of an idea of what to do in possession. Dean Furman – booked for cutting down an attack cynically – resisted the urge to cross a wide ball and drove into the box cutting back to Steve Jones who whacked a shot against the bar. Michael Boulding and Barry Conlon almost beat former City trialist Jon Brain with headers. City pushed.

Eventually – after half time – that pressure resulted in a well crafted goal when Furman tucked a ball into Boulding who held it up manfully and released back to the midfielder who slotted in on the hour.

The Bantams never looked like surrendering the lead with Joe Colbeck – who previously in the game had struggled to blend back into the rhythm of the rest of the side – started to regain a dangerous edge on the right wing and Nicky Law Jnr’s tireless midfield running opened the visitors up a number of times. Peter Thorne – a late sub – Barry Conlon and Jones could have added to the lead.

The single goal was enough and the Bantams climbed the table. It was thanks to McCall – if you believe the manager carries the can for all ills and thus gets credit for all good things – or his players who not once failed to seize the responsibility they failed to show before should you be of the mindset that those who kick the ball are in charge of all.

Me, I like to think that there is a synergy in a football club and that tonight City identified a way of playing and stuck to it and were rewarded. It was not the greatest win, rain and wind is not the hardest problem to solved but they proved too much for Alexander of Macclesfield but McCall of City untied the knot.

It rains on the just and the unjust alike and football managers are beset with being judged on the results of games such as this that hang in the balance.

Nothing is ever as good, or as bad, as it seems but things certainly seem better for City..

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