Saturday 13th February, 20104 years ago, mid-February

Jacobs can’t shake off the staleness as City draw with struggling Grimsby

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Bradford City 0 Grimsby Town 0 At Valley Parade in League Two, 2009/2010

A  banner was unfurled over the edge of the Main Stand top tier as the players came out for kick off which seemed to be in support of Stuart McCall; but before we’d had chance to read what it said, it had been removed.

This didn’t appear to be an act of boardroom concealing, more concern from stewards that the banner was covering up advertising hoardings. Though it was a shame the supporter’s home-made effort wasn’t allowed to be draped over some of the thousands of empty seats.

It was not meant to be, and perhaps the same can be said of Wayne Jacobs as Bradford City manager. Having requested to Mark Lawn that he is interviewed for the vacant position during the week, this disappointing draw with second-bottom Grimsby was hardly the commendation he needed ahead of Monday’s meeting.  Already an outsider for the position, his chances seemingly reduced with each passing minute of goalless action.

Apart from Jacobs patrolling the dugout in suit rather tracksuit, it was difficult to recognise much different. For 90 minutes City huffed and puffed, but the well-organised visitors defended in numbers and carried a threat on the break. Oliver Lancashire and Joe Widdowson were outstanding at the back and, although the Bantams spent long spells camped out in the opposition half, clear cut chances were at a premium.

Robbed of injury to Omar Daley, Jacobs’ team selection could easily have been that of McCall’s. Though Gareth Evans was moved to the left instead of part of a front three, bringing more balance to the side than for last week’s defeat to Bury. Scott Neilson was recalled on the right and improved on a tentative start to produce an impressive second half display which was aided by Jacobs’ switching Simon Ramsden back to right back at half time, as City’s captain was more supportive going forward than Zesh Rehman in the first half.

But elsewhere confidence was obviously lacking. For much of this season City have been too desperate to get the ball forwards quickly instead of showing composure; and though midfield pair Lee Bullock and Michael Flynn impressed in patches, the middlemen were often cut out in favour of a long ball from the back towards James Hanson.

With Grimsby playing a higher backline in the first half, passes in behind the strikers from midfield was an effective option, but when Town dropped deeper it was back to route one. Initial panic was often caused from Hanson’s flick ons, but Town always seemed to have more numbers back to snuff out the danger.

Evans had the best chance of the first half when a good pass had set Hanson clear before he pulled the ball back to City’s number nine. But Evans’ confidence seems to have been unaffected by his double at Torquay two weeks ago and he fired over. It’s now three months since he scored at Valley Parade.

And it’s nine months since Peter Thorne - making his first start since going off injured against Rochdale in the JPT last September - scored anywhere. The top scorer of the past two seasons was effective in holding up the ball, but inside the area the sort of half chances he sniffs out seemed to allude him. Michael Boulding was introduced on 65 minutes and wasted a decent opportunity when shooting straight at Nick Colgan. Hanson and Neilson also fired over from promising positions, but the 0-0 looked inevitable long before the assistant referee signalled four minutes of injury time.

Matt Glennon was a virtual spectator, other than an important save from a well-worked Grimsby corner just after the break. Despite the visitors’ relegation worries, they seemed content with a point and made few efforts to push forwards in numbers during the final 20 minutes. It was an afternoon to forget.

Which quickly pushes the focus back onto the managerial situation and, with Martin Allen and Russell Slade watching from the stands, they and others would seem to be in a better position than Jacobs after he oversaw this mediocre display. Jacobs’ best hope of earning the job would surely have lied in truly differentiating himself from his former manager, given Lawn’s rather tactless hint McCall would have been pushed had he not jumped.

In time, Jacobs would surely stamp his own mark on the club. But his chance always lied in the short term and this City display was much of the same and therefore makes it more difficult for him to convince Lawn and Julian Rhodes he could do a better job than McCall.

But whoever does come in has a job to do in quickly building up confidence and belief in a team which has become too used to feeling hard done by. Not losing today means the spectre of falling into a relegation battle remains distant, but with two tricky trips to Lancashire to come before a visit from a Darlington side showing faint signs of improvement - however futile - the urgency for improved results is increasing.

Like this drab draw which was seemingly decided long before the end, City’s season seems to be drifting to an inevitable mundane mid-table conclusion. That Jacobs was unable to make an impact means it will surely now be an outsider entrusted with shaking things up.

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  1. Chris Lofthouse says:

    Jason – The banner said “You lot let down a true City Gent”.

  2. Mark David says:

    From my seat in the Midland Rd stand, I can confirm the banner read: U Lot Let Down a True City Gent!

    Although an initial reading would assume this public display of ire was directed at a group of players who were about to put in yet another below par performance at home (save for the imperious Ramsden and possibly the tireless and frequently man-handled Hanson), it did cross a few minds in the seats around me that the banner may have been displayed for the benefit of those in the stands who had all too quickly turned on McCall…

    As with much in BD8 at the moment, we are left wondering…

  3. Andy Uttley says:

    Ramsden spent most of the first half shouting instructions at Zesh Rehman, mostly along the lines of get tighter to your man which Rehman chose for the most part to ignore. I think the half time switch was more a case of Ramsden trying to show Rehman by example. Ramsden’s expression at full time said it all.

    For me Ramsden and Clarke were the only players on our team that could honestly say they put a shift in. Flynn was shockingly non-existent, particularly in the second half. He’s had a tendency to lose interest in the second half of games where we’re not winning and yesterday I thought was his worst example of this. Bullock also had his worst game for a long time.

    I initially thought the banner was directed at the players and at the start of the game I thought it was a bit harsh. By the end of the game I’d changed my view. I hope that Martin Allen and Russell Slade weren’t the only propsective new managers watching yesterday’s game because a) I hope our new manager saw the game and b) I hope it isn’t either of those two. Whoever it is, they’ve got their work cut out.

  4. Michael Wood says:

    I’m not sure I’d fully agree with Andy’s comments but the general tone – that it was pants – I’d concur with 100% however I’m not able to talk about players not putting their shift in when I consider the week they have had.

    On Monday they lost the guy that brought they to the club, on Tuesday Wayne Jacobs is sort of but not really appointed caretaker, then they have a couple of days of seeing interviewees wandering in and out and Jacobs is suddenly told that he is caretaker. They are all on the floor and know that the ones who are out of contract probably are not going to get a new one because the guy who is picking them today is not going to be next week and that second guy is probably not going to be next season.

    If the players could put in a performance after that then there would be no need to have a manager at a club – the players could look after themselves. Whatever the point of a manager is at a football club it is almost certainly to do the opposite of what has happened this week.

    A flat performance of a team without belief or confidence is the result of sacking a manager and messing around without an appointment to replace him or any attempt to steady the ship.

    One could say that the players should be responsible for their own performances and should not put in flat performances for any reason but if that is true then what would be the point of managers?

    It was a rudderless performance and that rudderlessness comes from a massive lack of strong leadership which has emanated from the top of the club down to the pitch.

  5. Steve Baker says:

    Thought Neilson had a very good second half, was very direct and looked like the only player prepared to take someone on in the final third.

    City were unlucky, a number of poor finishes and some flukey incidents on Grimsby’s behalf only kept the score as it was. It wasnt a great performance, but at least we showed some fight. Boulding wasted the best chance, was afraid to go forward and take the keeper’s angle away from him.

    Ramsden, Neilson and Hanson were the shine out examples, but again Clarke put in a very competent shift at CB. The guys in front of me seemed to want him to become Bobby Moore with his distribution, but I would rather him win tackles, bully his marker off the ball, and win headers. He isnt a distributor and will never be one – its hardly Clarkes fault that Flynn and Bully didnt want the ball off the centre backs to bring others into the game. It seems to me that the boo boys will always hate Clarke – Id rather have him than a lot of the CB’s we have seen over the years.

    Rehman – well the guy is a joke. He had no idea at right back and Ramsden had to constantly cover his mistakes. He had no positional sense and did nothing other than a first half tackle to stop a cross. Championship standard? I think not! One of the few players on a 2 year deal – we could do without that!

    Quick poll – Clarke or Rehman?

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