Friday 28th October, 20113 years ago, at the end of October

Making no excuses

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Bradford City play Swindon Town At The County Ground in League Two, 2011/2012

It is all about excuses, and who has to give them.

Take Phil Parkinson for example. He stands accused after the 1-0 defeat at Macclesfield Town of making an excuse about referee Rob Lewis. Parkinson pointed out that his team – who have faced not one shot on target from inside the area in the last 180 minutes with the exception of that penalty – would have had something from the evening were it not for Lewis’ intervention. This was “making excuses” – or so we are told.

We get no excuse – the City fans who travelled to Macclesfield – about why the penalty was given and the Macclesfield supporters who shouted for a red card with some justification got no excuse from Lewis for what they were not sated. BfB tried to get the match report with our usual polite email to the Football League. We were told no. Rob Lewis need not give an excuse for ignoring the Laws of Football.

He may be called to give an excuse for his language towards Craig Fagan. It seems that Fagan asked Lewis about the booking he got and was replied to by Lewis swearing. Industrial language is not uncommon in football but the Laws of the game were used to send off players (and after the game) turning games and even seasons and we were told that there was no excuse for that behaviour. One wonders what Rob Lewis excuse will end up saying to the authorities, if they ask him as a result of the complaint City have put in about the official.

“Excuse” has been the phrase de jour for sometime around Valley Parade for some time. As a club “making excuses” has been verbalised from top to bottom of the club. Mark Lawn – when talking about training facilities – said that the lack of them could be used as an excuse while Stuart McCall and Peter Taylor were both “excuse making” when they talked about various issues which hampered their team’s performances.

Should a manager find something else to blame when the slings and arrows of Referee misfortune rain down on his team? Should he go straight to problem number two stepping over the first issue? When it comes to criticising officials Ron Atkinson had a hard and fast rule: “I never talk about Referees, and I’m not making an exception for that berk.”

What is Parkinson to do? His belief is that a robust team that do not concede will pick up points on the road. Michael Flynn’s red card stopped that robustness at Hereford, the penalty robbed a point at Macclesfield. If Parkinson can put hand on heart and say that he was happy with the performances otherwise then should he make something up rather than saying something that could be called an excuse?

Are we – as Bradford City supporters – really a community which is too immature to handle the interpretation of the game as the manager sees it and do we need to have that game retold to us in a way we find more palatable?

Which is not to say that Parkinson’s approach is to everyone’s taste, that is is great to watch or that it will work in the long term just that it is the approach that he has always used and the one he believes to be right. It is also the approach that many teams come to Valley Parade with and that has caused so many home reversals so it would be wrong to not point to a certain validity in the frustration game. If people are criticising Parkinson for using it away from home then they perhaps may recall if they criticised Colin Todd for not being able to break it down at VP.

The culture we have in the Bradford City community would reject excuses and anything that sound like excuses casting babies down Manningham Lane with bathwater to follow. It is to say that we have no truck with with anyone offering reason, it is the denial of the ability to be analytical.

Imagine if you will – and dear reader imagine it is so rather than questioning the premise if you have a mind to – that the only reason that Bradford City did not return from Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night with at least a point is because of atrocious Refereeing. Would you want to know that? Would you want to be lied to? Would you want Phil Parkinson to make changes to a team which would have performed well otherwise?

The question is yours to ponder, but as Macclesfield Town headed towards the play-off places and people without the ability to do basic mathematics said that City’s season was over they did so with an undeserved result, if you would take my opinion.

To paraphrase: “You train all week, you do everything right, and then Rob Lewis decides the result.”

City go onto Swindon Town to play against popular fascist Paolo Di Canio’s side who sit seventh in the division. The Robins are much talked about for the enigmatic Di Canio’s presence but more importantly they have not lost for five (four wins and a draw) which is a run started at Macclesfield.

City go into the game with Matt Duke in goal behind a back four which will probably see Marcel Seip step down to allow Andrew Davies to be recalled alongside Luke Oliver. Luke O’Brien is likely to come in at left back for the injured Robbie Threlfall and Liam Moore will retain his place at right back.

Adam Reed looks is unlikely to play – his loan deal is up on Saturday and he does not have a clause in his contract that guarantees him a place – so Richie Jones and Michael Flynn will reunite in the middle. Chris Mitchell is hoping for a recall either on the right or in a three while Michael Bryan will hope that Phil Parkinson opts for a flat four in the midfield which would give him a place on the right. Kyel Reid continues on the left.

Craig Fagan will start up front alongside or to the side of James Hanson.

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  1. Chris Lofthouse says:

    “Parkinson pointed out that his team – who have faced not one shot on target from inside the area in the last 180 minutes with the exception of that penalty – would have had something from the evening were it not for Lewis’ intervention. This was “making excuses” – or so we are told.”

    How many shots on target have we had in the last 180 minutes? According to Parkinson Flynn cost us a win against Hereford by getting sent off (we hadn’t scored at this point) and the ref cost us the game at Macclesfield by giving a dubious penalty (again we hadn’t scored at this point). Sounds like excuses to me…you can’t win a game 0-0.

    The statement above says “something from the evening (game)” but excuse me for not thinking dire 0-0′s away at Macclesfield and Hereford are something to write home about.

    Personally I’d rather us go for the win and lose 2-4 than try and get a 0-0 and lose 0-1 or 0-2. We were promised entertainment by Mr Lawn this season…did he mean the half time Zumba?

    1. Michael Wood says:

      According to these stats (1, 2) we have had six shots on target compared to the opposition’s four.

      I’m glad you recognise that it is a personal preference that you would rather see a team lose 2-4 than try draw 0-0 because that is the start of a debate. I’d rather we got draws than defeats in pretty much any circumstance though and I’ve seen enough football to know that teams that go out to win at all costs away from home usual get beaten.

      I made my case for an attacking team when Stuart McCall was manager, and later when Omar Daley was on the wing being called “lazy” for not tucking in next to the left back, and I was shouted down. The club has made a decision to go with an approach (Regardless of Mark Lawn’s promises) and that is the approach we bring to games. That is based on keeping games tight and trying to sneak goals away from home and just because you (or I) may prefer to see a team attacking freely does not mean that the team needs to be held to a different standard.

      Parkinson sets a team out away from home to not concede and try nick a goal if possible, but not to lose as a primary aim (or at least that is what it seems to me) – it is the way that most teams play at Valley Parade and if you look at our record at VP in the past decade it has worked more than once – so there is no real relevance to saying that we had not scored other than to say that you would like the game playing differently. Which is not to say that there is not a grand debate to be had on how football should be played and that there was not a time to have that debate (as I say, look back to February 2009 for the debate) but a mass of people (who you or I may or may not have been part of) wanted to change what we had.

      Not appreciating a manager’s style of play is a personal thing, but not appreciating that he has a style of play is just to ignore what is happening in front of you. Parkinson’s teams have a way of playing away from home and judging them as if they are trying to create open, free flowing games is not really very relevant. Its like buying an Oasis album and complaining that there is not enough Jazz on it.

    2. Paul Firth says:

      I don’t wish to be pedantic with Chris’s comment, but PP did not say Flynn’s sending off or Mr Lewis’s second penalty decision ‘cost us a win’. After the Hereford game in particular he siad it had been heading for a 0-0 draw until Flynn was sent off. And therein lies some evidence of what PP wanted to achieve in an away game against a team which had lost five out of six home games. Like it or lump it, that’s the manager’s way of playing. (Myself, I lump it.)

      Perhaps I should repeat a stat I have used before. PP’s most successful season as a manager came in 2005-6. His Colchester team were second in League One, scoring 58 goals in 46 games (19 in their 23 away games, with 7 wins, 9 draws and 7 defeats). 12 in 10 league games under PP is a little below that standard then, but 6 in 6 away games is actually better. It’s just that column that says ‘won none’ that is so different.

      If you’re wondering what happened to Mark Lawn’s promise of entertainment, could it be that he made that comment while we had ‘the worst squad in the league’? I honestly can’t remember, but I rather suspect we had a different manager then. Maybe somebody can trace it.

    3. Paul Firth says:

      Isn’t the internet a wonderful tool???

      T&A 9th June 2011

      He (Mark Lawn) said: “Peter Jackson will be looking to play a more entertaining style of football next year, and that’s something to look forward to.”

      Of course, he could have been misquoted!

    4. Sebastian Cargutt says:

      Chris, i’d also like to see us go for the win, but unortunately it’s a sure fire way to get sacked as manager, so it is not a tactic we often see employed. Given that Parky will be lucky to be with us until the end of the season based on recent history, he’s very unlikely to try a risky strategy.

  2. Neil Myers says:

    Personally i hate people who make excuses for more or less anything in regards to sport, i’ve heard them all and i’ve never been impressed. As far as Bradford City Football Club is concerned, I believe, as i’ve said many times before, that the club is being stitched up at the highest level. Imo Parkinson is simply seeing the end product, and as such , he’s not making excuses, he’s simply commenting on the end product of that stitch up, which is referee’s deciding the outcome of quite a few of our football club’s matches.

    1. Andy Uttley says:

      I’m as infuriated as anyone at the standard of refereeing as anyone lucky enough to have been sat near me when I’ve blown a gasket at them will agree. But, this conspiracy theory that the FA or whoever want us relegated out of the league is taking it a bit far.

      For starters, there are plenty of examples of poor officiating going in our favour although it does usually seem we get far more going against us. The simple reasoning for this is that we tend to lean towards our team in the way we see things. One recent example of a decision in our favour might be the penalty decision last week against Northampton. Northampton argued they had been the subject of a poor decision.

      It would have to be a pretty complex conspiracy if these decisions in our favour were only made to try to cover up those given against us.

      I’m not sure the argument about poor refereeing is just confined to those in the bottom two divisions. One of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen at Valley Parade was 2 or 3 seasons from Lee Probert. A premiership referee recovering from injury if I remember right. His decisions all day were unbelievable.

      The standard generally is not up to scratch. I’ve emailed the FA, the Football League and the referees organisation many times. The only reply I’ve had is that “referees don’t cheat”. I’d like to believe that but some of the performances question it.

      In this day and age with so much at stake around football, the officials can not continue performing so poorly without being held to account. It should be part of their job to speak to the media and to explain their reasoning behind contentious decisions.

      I don’t think for a minute that there is a conspiracy against us, but I do think particularly at home, referees seem determined to show that they are not influenced by the crowd. I think this follows for a lot of away games too where our vociferous support often drowns out the home fans. Either way, it’s wrong.

    2. Rob Wood says:

      I’m not sure that Lee Probert was coming back from injury when we saw him. (Rotherham at home, Broughton’s elbows, Roberts’ random free-kick, Ellison’s last decent performance, if I’m not mistaken)

      I’m sure that he had been in charge of Birmingham-Wigan in the Premier League the week before where his reaction to a Hugo Rodellega elbow to Roger’s Johnson’s face was a yellow card and a little cuddle for Rodellega (find the video) and to make Birmingham play with ten men while their physio stopped Johnson’s bleeding.

      I suspect missing this decision is what got him sent to the Fourth Division for a week. It says a lot about what’s wrong with refereeing that, despite making a poor decision in a similar situation in the City-Rotherham game, he was back on Match of the Day again a couple of weeks later.

    3. Neil Myers says:

      I’ve been watching BCFC for over 40 years, why would i all of a sudden think BCFC were being hard done by, i never got that impression pre administration. It’s all opinion, i believe BCFC are still paying the price for a double bout of administration, yes it’s all speculation, there maybe something in it and then again there may not, but imo there has been far too many officials deciding to officiate BCFC games with what seems like a determination of the result in mind. If it was just poor refereeing, then that usually goes for both teams, i’d call it biased refereeing, where Bradford City Football Club players on many occasions seem to be playing under different rules to the opposition. That is a total disgrace.

    4. Michael Wood says:

      The idea of a Referee conspiracy is never one which gets much support from people when it cones up in this form which is curious when one considers how easily it is accepted in others.

      We use the phrase “you never get penalties at Old Trafford” which amounts to the same thing – refs being partial towards one team – without batting an eye.

    5. Neil Myers says:

      Anyone that knows me, knows i’m pretty much down to earth in respect to how i think. This idea about an FA conspiracy has been formed after years of watching a prosession of officials running around VP with no concept of being even handed. If it had simply been officials that are useless then this would have manifested it’s self in an even way over the years since our clubs two bouts of administration. This is not the case, Bradford City Football Club has had no evening out of such decisions which have cost the club dear in points and the clubs ability to mount any sort of challange at the top of any division we’ve been in since our time in administration.

    6. Andy Riley says:

      Not buying into this conspiracy theory business against BCFC, poor refereeing decisions are part and parcel of the game, always have been always will. Rob Lewis had a mare Tuesday night, he should not have awarded the home side a penalty but there were only 2 significant controversial moments in the whole game, both took place in our penalty box and from where I was standing the first one looked like a penalty as Duke was put under pressure by Oliver’s under hit back pass. City have had their fair share of favourable refereeing decisions at VP, such as the 2 penalties against Bristol Rovers which gave City 1 point. Lewis cost City 1 pt which brings me to my point that over the season contentious refereeing decisions even themselves out and the final league table doesn’t lie

    7. Neil Myers says:

      That’s my point, i don’t believe things are evening out over a season, and in my opinion, it’s been going on for far longer than that, right back to our two bouts of administration.

  3. Paul Wintersgill says:

    I would be disappointed if Seip is dropped, he has looked pretty able in the games I have seen (all but Hereford).

    If it were true (that Referees had it in for City), how would (one) explain Adeyemi’s goal that wasn’t a goal against Rotherham last season or City v 9 man Stockport 10 days earlier? Could these be a smoke screen for the underlying “stitch up at the highest level”!!!?

    I think not

    1. Neil Myers says:

      I can’t explain the games you mentioned other than that i believe both those clubs have also gone into administration in the last few years. Obviously i have no proof other than noticing the difference between the officiating before our two administrations and what’s gone on since, chalk and cheese comes to mind.

    2. Rob Wood says:

      If you pause the video of Adeyami’s goal against Rotherham then you can clearly see daylight between the ball and the post as it comes down from the crossbar, in the view from the camera in the Midland Road stand.

      Taking this incident in isolation, although we thought the ref had done us a favour and Rotherham felt hard done by, in fact the officials had got this one spot on.

    3. Steve Benson says:

      At last, someone who agrees with me that Tom Adeyemi’s goal against Rotherham was correctly given. For some reason I felt at the time that it had actually gone in. I recorded it and watched it numerous times in super slo mo and I am 100% certain that the ball crossed the line by at least 18 inches, hit the looped metal net support and rebounded out. I don’t believe it hit the bar at all; if you look at the acute angle the ball came back out at it would have nearly reached the penalty spot if it had hit the crossbar. It was a genius decision by the lino, whether by accident or design.

      As for a conspiracy amongst refs/the FA to get us out of the league, I just think that’s fanciful. Every set of supporters under the sun thinks they are hard done to by referees; we all remember the incidents that go against us and screen out the evidence of our own good fortune. There are plenty of incidents of dire refereeing at Premier League and international level too – look at the last World Cup final, the Lampard and Rio Ferdinand disallowed goals at recent tournments, the ‘goal that wasn’t’ in the PL etc etc ad infinitum – so it’s not just a lower division issue. None of which is to excuse Rob Lewis, who is an utter clown.

      I recognise that you can’t just go out completely gung ho away from home and I can see that Phil parkinson has had to prioritise shoring up our sieve-like defence; but the trouble with setting out to win 1-0 or draw 0-0 is that, al la Mr Taylor, you make yourself very vulnerable to losing 1-0 if you get a dodgy decision against you or just don’t get the rub of the green in front of goal. There has to be a middle way I feel.

      What I simply cannot understand is why he has persisted in playing Adam Reed if there isn’t a ‘must play’ clause in his loan agreement. Reed has looked out of his depth and ineffective whilst our own Chris Mitchell, who can play centre midfield or wide right and can tackle and pass far better than Reed (and deliver a killer dead ball for good measure) has been bench warming. Very puzzling.

    4. Neil Myers says:

      Regarding the FA conspiracy theory of mine, it never crossed my mind that anything untoward was going on in regards to Bradford City Football Club and the officials that to charge of it’s games during the first 30 odd years of my support, yes there was incompetent refereeing but that evened it’s self out over a season, it’s only since our bouts of administration that i’ve noticed the one eyed refereeing that’s gone on regarding our club. In no way shape or form has the odd decision going in our favour made up for this in my opinion (screening out, not really). It may seem fancyful, but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t happening.

      As for the RUFC ghost goal, i’ve always thought it didn’t cross the line. It would be interesting to see it in HD and super slowmo. I’m with you regarding Reed and Mitchell, Stewarts disappearance is also puzzling.

  4. Chris Newell says:

    “Are we – as Bradford City supporters – really a community which is too immature to handle the interpretation of the game as the manager sees it and do we need to have that game retold to us in a way we find more palatable?”

    The answer to this question is clearly yes.

    I read this website most days and enjoy the majority of articles, when I read an article like this though all I can think is that it is being published in the wrong place. Judging from most of the comments on this site, the people who read BFB would for the most part agree with the sentiments that Michael & Jason regularly offer, so for me there is a sense of preaching to the converted.

    The idiots amongst our “support” who seem to disagree and take issue with everything that comes out of the club, or anything positive or sympathetic that anyone says, are the ones who need to be reading this stuff. One wonders whether they can even read though!?

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