Tuesday 24th November, 20095 years ago, at the end of November

City go to Grimsby waiting in the balance

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Michael Flynn put into words the season for City when he said “If we had cut out a few mistakes, we would be higher up the table than we are.”

That Gareth Evans – who has put in much to his first three months at Bradford City and more than deserves the break for this – blasted a last minute penalty wide of the post on Saturday allowing two points to squirm away proved Flynn’s protestation. The Bantams are a team inefficient giving away enough goals to counteract the many good things that go on at the other end of the field but with a balance that when upset may tip one way or another.

Certainly Grimsby Town will have an empathy with such problems after sacking Mike Newell some half dozen or so winless games ago and giving one time Bantam striker Neil Woods the chance to take the team, well, not very far. Woods got the job on a full time basis on Monday afternoon underlining the effect of getting rid of Newell which seems to be that the former manager no longer has to turn up to work but still is paid while the new incumbent goes about the role with the same resources. The attempt to tip the balance of Town’s early season displays having either no effect at all, or a counter effect. Certainly the “new manager/new beginning” which is often hoped for simply had not happened at Blundell Park.

Not that any more than the usual would be of the opinion that the way to tip the season towards success would be a manager replacement but rather the manager himself looks for ways to cut out the mistakes starting with a 442 on Saturday that was – well – duller than the usual 433 but did stop the customary two goals a game concessions. Perhaps the return to two wingers was a preparation of sorts for the return of Omar Daley who would have been backin reserve team action this week were it not for a rearranged juniors match at Valley Parade.

The middle three of Michael Flynn, Lee Bullock and one other has worked well – and provided no little excitement at both ends – this season but a pairing of Bullock and Flynn with Omar Daley on the left and new recruit Simon Whaley on the right could be the shape that the Bantams will take into the Christmas period. All of which is long sighted talking and rather harsh on Scott Neilson who has on the whole been excellent since joining the Bantams. It also assumed that Chris Brandon will not continued to be shoe-horned into the side or – if one rumour is to be believed – will be leaving for Greg Abbott’s Carlisle in the transfer window.

Evans and James Hanson are expected to retain the forward places with Michael Boulding restricted to the bench against the team that list him as a favoured old boy. Boulding performed well coming off the bench on Saturday and might get the nod over Scott Neilson in an attacking three but the hard work of the younger pair has been one of the base blocks of City this season and is not something to change.

The back five of Simon Ramsden, Zesh Rehman, Steve Williams and Luke O’Brien in front of Barry Conlon Simon Eastwood is also expected to remain. Ramsden’s return on Saturday showed his quality while Luke O’Brien continues to be an able full back and an attacking force. The middle pairing impress some, but not all, and may have to cope with the attacking prowess of Barry Conlon as the former Bantams hopes to get a start against the club he left last season.

Far for universally loved Barry left City under a cloud of discipline and drink – letting himself down – but in his one and a half years at City his full energy performances showed a way forward that the Bantams have followed – James Hanson and Barry are not dissimilar players although Hanson’s ability to get both headed and kicked balls somewhere near his intended target puts Conlon to shame.

Much of last season was a debate about the merits of Conlon and Omar Daley but in the last three months of the season when one was at Grimsby and the other injured – effectively giving some supporters who used the words “get rid” a little too much for my tastes what they had wanted – the Bantams imploded. The balance upset, tipped the wrong way.

Not repeating this is the task Stuart McCall faces.

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11 Comments

  1. Phil Hobbs says:

    I think it’s a little harsh on Eastwood to find himself being replaced by Big Baz in goal…!!
    I think you’re right about Brandon though – he’ll find it increasingly hard to get into the side now and his City career seems to be panning out exactly as my Town-supporting colleagues suggested it would – he looks pretty, with his twists & turns, but unfortunately delivers very little. He certainly shouldn’t be getting in the side ahead of James O’Brien, who has more desire and is a better taker of a dead ball.
    To Blundell Park then and hopefully 3 much-needed points.
    Come on you Bantams!

    1. Michael Wood says:

      Corrected – I must have Barry on the brain.

  2. Robert Wade says:

    For me the presence of Conlon in our squad showed how far we have fallen. I started watching City when they were in the basement division and that’s where they are again now, so believe me I’m no footballing snob. In that time (34yrs-ish) Conlon is the worst player I have ever seen in a City shirt. The old joke that his second touch is a tackle is actually true of him. However, he did have his uses and a last 10 minutes of pure effort, putting it about tired defenders, from the bench was where he had his only use. Now my comments may come back to haunt me tonight, but if they do then it is not because Conlon is a good player, it is how bad we have become. As for City, we really need two wins to get back on track.

    1. Michael Wood says:

      If Barry Conlon is the worst footballer you have ever seen in a City shirt all I can think is that you turned your back to the pitch when Darren Morgan was playing. The argument has been done to death but in the end I’d take a player who tried and seemed to care over one who strolled around the pitch without giving a Damn.

      In other words I’d rather have had Barry Conlon in the team than Dan Petrescu.

  3. Robert Wade says:

    I did say the worst player “I” have seen and I did say he had his uses in terms of effort, but my point is that it brings home that we are in the bottom division when we have him in the side.

    1. Michael Wood says:

      Perhaps both prove the divisions we were in. You have honest cloggers like Barry when you are in the bottom division, you have pay cheque no heart players like Dan when you are in the Premiership. Perhaps that is why when people talk in terms of ambition for the club that they always say “Get into the Championship.”

  4. Damian Clough says:

    I tend to agree with Rob. As much as I admired Barry and his effort; when I first saw him play away at Wolves in the cup it finally hit home to me how far the club had dropped and what the division 2 was all about. Depressing to say the least!! No disrespect to Barry who does a job in this division and did ok for us, just a reality check

    1. Michael Wood says:

      It has to be said that Barry was probably the worst player I’ve seen in a Grimsby Town shirt last night although he had some competition.

  5. Stephen Lockwood says:

    Worst City player I have seen (only a fan for 15 years) was our record signing – Hopkin. I know it was Premiership days but he fell so far that he was non-league/pub football in about 12 months. And we paid millions for him!
    Petrescu not far behind.

  6. Robert Wade says:

    I think this is a different topic – who is the worst signing. Hopkin, Petrescu, et al are the reason we are down here – 6 weeks of madness or whatever you want to call it. Conlon certainly wouldnt be in the category of ‘least effort’. However, I would try hard if I played for City, I’d be b. useless but I’d try hard! I’ve got no hard feelings towards Conlon, he summed up our plight. Hopefully there are the green shoots of recovery now ( genuine ones not Labour ones) and we can move onwards and upwards.

  7. Rob Wood says:

    On a lighter note, the worst player ever to pull on a City shirt (with no disrespect intended) has to be Steve Longbottom in Stuart’s testimonial who really showed up the difference Robert alludes to between a pro footballer and an enthusiast non-footballer.

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