Issue Taylor hopes to start as low as City go

As told by Michael Wood

The game with Accrington Stanley is under threat as the pitch at The Crown Ground cuts up under wintery conditions leaving Bradford City fans with wondering if they shall see the debut of new manager Peter Taylor.

Taylor’s arrival sees City on the road at Accrington and Rochdale on Tuesday night before his home bow at Valley Parade when Darlington arrive on Saturday leaving the City interim manager a couple of matches to see his new charges in action before unveiling his albeit short term revolution.

In the week when Notts County started to make players available for loan having once again proved the idea that budget does not make a successful team Taylor gets to grips with a Bantams squad the quality of which seems to have become oft debated in the two weeks since Stuart McCall left the club.

Some say the squad is good enough for the play-offs and that McCall held it back, others that the squad is all but useless. If County’s season proves anything it is that having the “best” players does not make the “best” team. We face them on Tuesday night.

I would suggest that the most useful piece of experience the new City manager has when it comes to dealing with the Bantams squad came not when taking clubs to promotion but when he was in charge of England’s under 21 side.

Taylor gets the players he is given and save the odd obvious talent most of them are no better or no worse than the players they come up against on a weekly basis. The England u21s of Taylor and the likes of Keiron Dyer were no better, no worse than those of France or Italy or Spain and the majority of the players in all those squads could have been interchanged with no real benefit.

The same is true of the City squad. The majority of the players are typical “Lower League players” who when trained, motivated and given the correct environment could be good enough for any team up to the bottom half of the Championship if not higher. It is getting improved performances from those players – rather than bringing in obvious talent – which defines how well the Bradford City manager does.

Taylor starts with a blank slate although one would no doubt note that many of the names line up in the same places they had previously.

Matt Glennon will play in goal and with the new manager well versed in League Two football one can expect him to have either Zesh Rehman or Matt Clarke at the back to provide physical power alongside a player who can clean up behind like Simon Ramsden or Steve Williams. Ramsden, if not in the middle, will be right back which otherwise would go to Jonathan Bateson. Luke O’Brien at left back. So far, so familiar.

Taylor is known as a tactical pragmatist and one could only guess if he will field the 442 he used at many clubs or the 433 that Mark Lawn is suggesting he should – one hopes that Taylor can have a word in the chairman’s ear that it is inappropriate for chairman to pre-empt tactics.

Taylor likes a target man and so James Hanson will probably feature while a fit again Peter Thorne would make a good partner. Michael Boulding, Gareth Evans or Omar Daley could be added if Taylor wants a three up front.

The new City manager is known to favour a firm midfield but will almost certainly use Stuart McCall’s pairing of Lee Bullock and Michael Flynn. In a three the likes of Chris Brandon, Omar Daley and Scott Neilson have proved themselves to be too weak for a dogged midfield although all three could be used in a four. James O’Brien (longer term) and Stephen O’Leary might hope to add the steel to Taylor’s middle three but expect the Bantams boss to look at that position for strengthening first.

Accrington Stanley’s John Coleman was quick to distance himself from the then vacant (and soon to be vacant again) Bradford City job. Coleman has taken Stanley up to the middle of League Two which is a huge achievement but having taken eleven years to do it one could not imagine a less apt choice for City manager in these times of seeming short-term thinking.

Coleman’s side took a 1-1 draw from Valley Parade earlier in the season and pushed for the play-offs but such a challenge has since fallen off and one might consider that Coleman truly has taken The Reds as far as it is possible.

Peter Taylor, starting life as Bradford City manager, hopes that he has picked up City as low as we can go. One hopes that he is correct in this and many things.