Hiwula / Guesswork

There is a school of thought which governs the signing of players like Jordy Hiwula who was recruited on loan by Bradford City from Huddersfield Town having come for “six figures” from the same Manchester City young team that gave us Devante Cole.

That school of thought is to contextualise the single signing as being a poor one because of his lack of success elsewhere – Hiwula has barely played and when he has played has recorded modest goal returns of late – and because any player not wanted by another club has a flaw which would become obvious with more attention.

There is a logic to this second point – managers rarely rid themselves of good dressing room characters first and there is a worry that man who played up front with Devante Cole might have the same attitude – and the first relies on the inexorable gravity of football that concludes that because most seasons are not successful for most clubs in the high standards of promotions and trophies then most signings are successful either.

These are boundaries which players struggle to verbalise their position within. Hiwula said on signing “I think the way that Bradford play will suit the way I play” which – considering that this Bradford City has played but one game – either denotes that Hiwula really likes Rory McArdle’s passing, or that he has not noticed the change of everything since his played against City on loan for Walsall, or like most footballers he just says the thing that seems right at the time.

Which is exactly what the school of thought that damns he does. It is countered by a second school which is more optimistic in presenting previous successes as similarly negative. Did you think that the sixth choice striker from Carlisle United would be worth a punt? Did you think that the skinny Ginger son of a Leeds player was worth a deal?

And the problem with both these schools of thought is that they are largely distraction from the a central truth which became increasingly obvious through Phil Parkinson’s time at Bradford City which was that these judgements on good signings and bad signings are retroactive.

Rory McArdle was a good signing, Gary Jones was a good signing, Stephen Darby was a good signing but those things were not true on the day the signed. Universally Lee Power was seen as a good signing but his debilitation after two games means that very soon that was not the case. See also Gordon Watson.

The quality of a signing is about many things which start after pen is put to paper: work put in on the training pitch is one, avoiding injury is another; The season is unwritten and players are as good as the effort they put in. Devante Cole seemed to avoid putting in the effort to adapt to a system he did not enjoy despite obvious talents. Will his former teammate Hiwula put in the effort? Will Hiwula be a good signing? That is in the hands of Hiwula.

Which is not to say that there is not an indication from a club’s transfer activity of many things but to single out individual transfers and make judgements on prospective performance is largely guesswork, and of little worth, be it in praise or damnation.

Notes on a Move

There’s been a little consternation over the last week or so about Bradford Council’s much vaunted ‘Sporting Village’ project at Odsal. As we all know this project has been doing the rounds for longer than most can remember, and every so often concerns are raised about Bradford City’s potential involvement. Let us for a moment forget the fact that ‘Odsal Sporting Village’ is as likely to happen as us winning the FA Cup this season and take this situation on both its merits and its drawbacks, because I don’t believe such a move would be the earth shattering event some would predict.

Firstly, as we all know, our beloved Valley Parade is leased back to us for a reportedly silly amount by our Rollercoaster loving ex-chairman. This would be a main facet of any argument which supported our moving home. A satisfying two finger salute and a fresh start; this brings me to the other point which I think would hold weight. The talk this season around the Bantams has been of a start from scratch, a club reborn from the failures of the bloated wage packet and ego brigade from last season. So, why not augment this new breed with a step away? I am by no means saying that we engineer a move away from Valley Parade as soon as possible, but I see no reason other than nostalgia to hold on with a death grip to a home which has not seen success for a long time.

The proposal itself would offer a wonderful arena for both ourselves and our egg-chasing cousins, potentially athletics and much more too, ok, so we would have to share it with others, but we wouldn’t be the only ones in that boat, Wigan Athletic manage it. If we are, as many feel, starting from right at the bottom, then this would give us an opportunity to do so in a new home, perhaps without the trappings of memory and expectation which haunt our current one. Moving stadium does not kill the club, it is us, the fans, who are that lifeblood, and I’m sure you feel the same as me, in that as long as Bradford City AFC exists, I will watch them regardless of what pitch they inhabit, I love the club, not the stadium.

That said, it would always be a wrench to leave, and there would be many thousands who would balk at the thought of leaving, and yes, it is a spiritual home, but there would doubtless be successes at any new ground, and potentially more revenue, without a crippling amount of rent. Tradition is important, but so is making the best of your situation and I, for one, believe a potential move would be a benefit to our club.

Yes, we have had some wonderful moments at Valley Parade, times which none of us will ever forget, David Wetherall with ‘that’ goal, beating Arsenal, Gordon Watson’s brace from the bench! But do you not think Arsenal fans witnessed some fantastic times at Highbury? Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park? Shrewsbury at The Gay Meadow? These memories do not die if the stadium does not remain, but our debt to Gordon Gibb might. However, this is the same council which seems to have created Britain’s biggest building site as a tourist attraction in the city centre, so I won’t hold my breath. For the time being, I will continue to enjoy inhabiting Valley Parade, hopefully it can provide some more happy memories.

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