Issue #39 The mystery of Matty Dolan and what is to worry about next season

As told by Michael Wood

Matty Dolan has signed for Bradford City with talk of the twenty one year old having a major part to play in next’s season team.

It is a realistic aim for the player who after eleven largely uneventful appearances at Valley Parade last season should be settled. If given this time on the slip road to get up to speed Dolan cannot nail down a place in next season’s side then one might expect him to never get such an opportunity again. The odd fine pass here, some tidy work there, there was nothing to suggest that Dolan was not worth the effort of a one year deal.

There is a wider question about what kind of Bradford City we will see next year.

Already Julian Rhodes has talked about two distinct differences the club want in Phil Parkinson’s playing squad next season. It must be cheaper, and more attacking.

“More attacking” first. Please save us from the joint chairmen trying to do football. Both the owners of the club consider themselves to be fans and custodians of the club but one – Mr Rhodes – has decided that part of that remit as protecting the future of the club and supporting it is to weigh in on how Phil Parkinson should be doing his job.

Rhodes would like more attacking football – probably a hope shared by all football supporters – but one doubts that Rhodes would like City to lose more and in all likelihood the Bradford City board would not accept losing more. Given the aims to be cheaper and to improve it is unhelpful to say the least for the boardroom to set the objectives of how those things will be done.

Phil Parkinson might conclude that given that remit: improve, cheaper, more attacking; that he should pay more attention to movements in the manager market in the summer. If that is the case then Julian Rhodes might live to regret his pronouncements, especially if they were just to rustle up more season ticket sales.

That is a worry.

Now “cheaper”. Bradford City have a use of the word “budget” that mocks the English language. The club set a figure what it believes it will get in through sponsorship and league games which is called “the budget”. Then the club spend more than that so are “over budget”.

A good cup run (probably not that good) eats into the gap between the “budget” and the “over budget”, or exceeds it and can be used – for example – to pay the club’s loan to one of it’s directors. We might have a respectable cup run that takes the club to Old Trafford and answers the problems.

Transfer fees work in the same way. Nahki Wells’ sale made the “budget” match the “over budget”. If Derby Country get to the Premier League and want to keep Andre Wisdom then the sell on on his move to Liverpool may do the same and a good World Cup could see Ross Barkley move on and leave a place in the team at Everton for Reserves Captain George Green to step up and start City’s pay per play deal. Oli McBurnie might leave at Christmas after twenty goals for a few million. James Hanson might sign for Barcelona. These things all might happen.

But they might not.

And if they do not Bradford City the club will once again looking to try plug the gap between what Bradford City the business’s directors hoped for and what Bradford City the business achieved. For two seasons Wembley and Wells have paid for the club to be run beyond its means and we can say that that has worked if we ignore the number of seasons that boom-or-bust policies did not (and the mess it left the club in) but while we still have some of the trapping of two good years I worry that the club is not putting anything with any permanence in place.

And that means I worry that the future of the club is down to which players the manager can pull in, when the manager is pushed into decisions by the board.

Rather than collecting the right group with the right attitude – the character of players has been decisive factor over the past three seasons – Parkinson has to sign whoever is cheaper and more attacking.

Which means I’m worry because while Matty Dolan might be the next Gary Jones the problems that come if he and the few others signed this summer do not match up to the performances of their predecessors then the ramifications could undo the progress of the last few years.