Issue Looking at the sky, being in the dark

As told by Michael Wood

The one goal win over Wycombe Wanderers last week gave Peter Taylor – or rather confidence in Peter Taylor – a much needed fillip and as the manager celebrates – if celebrate is the right word – the anniversary of his arrival at Valley Parade.

Taylor has been at City for 12 months this week and by his own admission things have not gone as he – or we – would have hoped. The win over his former club started speculation over if Taylor might stay beyond the end of the season. Taylor has made the right noises but knows that he has not achieved the expectation which would have won him a new deal.

Mark Lawn made it abundantly clear that without promotion the club could not afford to give Taylor the same terms next season putting the onus on the manager to think about how much he should want to match his words with a financial commitment to take a lower deal were one offered.

Which begs the question as to if the club would offer Taylor a new contract. Mark Lawn said that there was still a belief in stability at Valley Parade but that that had had to come second to financial constraints. Lawn did not enthuse with the style of football being played and he is not alone in that but having given Taylor the remit to remould the squad over the course of this season there is – once again – a question as to how much the club believe stability helps.

No greater example of this can be found than Taylor’s recruitment of goal man Kevin Ellison. Ellison is very much a Taylor type of player and no doubt the manager would have had him in a year ago if he could but Ellison’s availability only changed last week and Daley – who apparently prayed for a move away from the manager – exited.

Daley was very much not Taylor’s type of player and despite efforts from both sides to make it work Ellison replacing Daley in the squad makes sense – or at least makes sense when Peter Taylor is manager.

Which leads one back to the pressing question as to if Taylor should be in charge at Bradford City. His performance this season is hardly likely to have anyone else trying to give him the big chair and his rejection of a good job at St James’ Park, Newcastle suggests that he is not about to be someone’s number two.

There are people who spend a great deal of money and effort – people I’ve got all the time in the world for – who are counting the games off until Taylor’s exit. BfB’s own Jason Mckeown has spoken with eloquence about how he will not be upset when Taylor exits while other long time City fans have talked about the ramifications of his time in charge.

Personally though – and as he shapes the squad to more effectively suit his desires on the field – I still consider Taylor to be the outstanding choice for the manager’s job. If I were drawing up a shortlist of names to be City’s boss in 2011/2012 from the out of work gaffers then Taylor’s name would once again be top.

Someone who has had success and repeated it he provides a light in the dark which is groping around looking for a new manager. He might have drifted from the road to success this year but I believe he has the roadmap to it and I’m not convinced that any of the names who are banded about as a successor do.

For sure City could go back to appointing a manager who was going to play a more attractive brand of football – anyone who tries to excuse the often tedious play of this season as a defence of the manager is doing Taylor no favours – but anyone who thinks that Johnny Goodfootball would be being having his name sung from the Kop for his silky passing play were City in 18th at this stage next season is deluding themselves.

In the end the popular manager is the winning manager – at least for the main – and Taylor’s five promotions suggest that he knows how to build a winning team more than most and as the club have made it clear that chasing promotion rather than aesthetics are important then perhaps this time next season Taylor will be celebrating a second year at City.

We know not if that will happen at this stage though and so we focus on the match in hand – or on Sky TV which the match is – which is Bradford City vs Port Vale.

(A note on Port Vale, dear reader, says that you would do well to get thee sen over to the excellent www.onevalefan.co.uk. A classic football website.)

The Friday evening encounter sees seemingly nailed on promotion side Vale struggling for form having slipped to seventh following a pair of draws. Micky Adams’ exit rocked the boat but the commendable Jim Gannon looks to get things back on track.

City go into the game with some vigour. Lenny Pidgeley keeps goal with Simon Ramsden at right back and Luke O’Brien on the left. Steve Williams may hope for a recall alongside Luke Oliver although Lewis Hunt will count himself unlucky to be dropped after his display last week.

Jon Worthington may have to play his first ninety minutes for City in the absence of injured David Syers with Tom Ademeyi and Michael Flynn alongside. James Hanson is also out with Scott Dobie filling his role and Gareth Evans and Kevin Ellison taking wider berths dropping back to bolster the midfield.

Which makes the kind of hybrid of a 451 and a 433 which Taylor favours. It might bring a second win over a promotion chaser in a week, or it may not. In the end Taylor knows more about getting promotion than most and that is his path to it.

And that, to some, is preferable to being in the dark.