Issue #7 Michael Wood on Can Parkinson afford to keep Kyel Reid during his rehabilitation?

The injury to Kyel Reid’s which will keep him out of the Bradford City team until the end of his contact shows an inherently cruel side to football which upsets even the most cynical of supporter.

Watching Kyel Reid has – for me – been a joy and I very much hope to do it again. There is nothing on the football field which gets my pulse racing like the sight of a speedy winger attacking a full back and Reid did that with jet heels. I hear people talk about making wrong decisions and I understand the meaning of such phrases but I find it hard at the end of a run in which my body stops breathing and I sit at the edge of the seat I’m on to criticise. I’m entranced.

Away from the personal point of view there is a pressing need for a speedy winger for Bradford City with Nahki Wells having departed the club and that is something which Phil Parkinson will need to address. Without the ability to get behind a defence with pace the Bantams allow the opposition to push a high line up the field and stop the one forward’s flick ons getting to the other in dangerous positions.

And while Parkinson has the option of playing the increasingly impressive Oli McBurnie it seems that the manager was planning to play the (not slow, but slower) Aaron McLean with James Hanson and allow Reid to run at defenders.

Without this option Parkinson is forced to look for reinforcements. McBurnie is a rare promotion from the youth ranks for the manager and it seems that if the funds are available then the budget would need to be increased to accommodate a replacement for Reid’s pace. Without that Parkinson will turn to Mark Yeates who does not have Reid’s pace and would pivot the way the Bantams play.

And while Parkinson could look to replacing six week injured James Meredith at left back he has to look at replacing Reid or risk that pivoting leading to the kind of fall off of results that happened the last time City were at this level and lost a player in the then sold Dean Windass. He could throw in Jordan Graham the loanee from Aston Villa but that would require a huge leap of faith in a player that has yet to kick a ball in claret and amber.

For the rest of this season higher defensive lines would require a slower build up and more midfield craft to counter and Parkinson’s side are not renowned for that. One can think of times when the Bantams have worked the ball around a compressed defence but examples of fast attacking play are more common.

What then for Reid though? Reid and Parkinson have been through some astonishing times together but the manager has to think as he hears that his player will miss the next eight months that – unless the calculations on budgets at the club are wrong – all the hopes for Reid’s recovery are probably not going to be able to extend to offering him a new deal.

In fact if Parkinson is to sign a player of the quality to replace Reid then he would probably expect to have to give away the part of next season’s budget that would have gone to a new deal for Reid. How cruel is it that as Parkinson seems in the position where because the club did not realise there valuation of Wells there is not funds to offer a contract to Reid for next season as well as a replacement player? We were following the Wells sale that the club was over budget. Extending that budget to include a new player who would come in on at least an eighteen month deal and keeping Reid as he returns to fitness seems unlikely.

It is grotesque. Parkinson’s other option is to muddle through the next four months and hope that Reid’s rehabilitation runs into pre-season and the player comes back able to pick up where he left off. One might hope that is the case Parkinson’s job at City depends on results and his hand may be forced.

If that is the case one is left with the memory of a sunny May day at Wembley and Kyel Reid’s contribution which will be so ill rewarded.