Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Importance of Andrew Davies

Phil Parkinson is currently managing Bradford City in a very similar fashion to Peter Taylor. He clearly believes that good teams are built on solid defences and that is what he appears to have built now. And key to that is Andrew Davies. Let’s be fair, he is far too good to be plying his trade in League Two and if any managers in higher leagues have any sense they will attempt to sign him up come January.

From a City point of view, however, it is imperative that his loan is extended until the end of the season. When he is not busy being sent off, Andrew Davies’ inclusion in the City team has seen a marked improvement in fortunes.

Since signing for City at the end of September, Davies has played in 7 league games and missed 5 league games through suspension. Davies was thrust into the team immediately after signing so it would have been difficult for him to influence his first game against AFC Wimbledon, but that is the only league game he has played in and lost for City.

In his 6 other games, City have won two and drawn four. A return of 10 points from 7 games is 1.428 points per game; which if extrapolated over a season would see a points total of 65. This clearly shows his importance to the team, considering that in the games where he hasn’t played, City have amassed a points total of 9 from 14 games, which would mean a points total of 30 over the season. A huge, and worrying, difference.

His first game after Wimbledon was the credible draw at Burton and results were beginning to improve the week after City beat Torquay. Unfortunately, Davies as we all know was sent off in that game ensuring he missed the next three games. Two were lost and one won.

Davies then returned and City once more kept a clean sheet at free scoring Swindon. Again, as we all know he was sent off and missed the next four games. Only two of those were league games, though, but both were defeats against Rotherham and Cheltenham.

Davies’ latest return coincided with yet another upturn in fortunes, with a credible draw at Gillingham, a further draw against Plymouth and an excellent win at Southend. With Davies’ return to the team, City have now gone over 270 minutes without conceding a goal on the road – an excellent record.

With the return of Simon Ramsden at right back, the excellent form of Luke Oliver and a relatively solid, yet out of position Marcel Seip at left back, City now have a back four which looks impressively solid. With the returning Jon McLaughlin in net looking a lot more confident than he did last season, City finally have a back five which can be depended on.

Andrew Davies is clearly an important cog in the Bradford City defence and Phil Parkinson must do his utmost to ensure his stay at Valley Parade is extended beyond January 7th. Despite him not being in a position on the pitch to influence goals scored, his inclusion is obviously vital for City to continue improving and push up the league table.

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Minds Turn Back to the League After a Week of Welcome Cup Distractions

Being knocked out of the JPT this week felt almost unjust having knocked out three of League One’s top five teams, but attention now turns back to the league for the big game with Plymouth after a week or so of welcome cup distractions.

Tuesday’s trip to Oldham highlighted what is great about this club, and in a season (Or more like decade) where everything has been doom and gloom, the Johnstones Paint Trophy has been a real shot in the arm for the club. 2,500 fans making the trip over the Pennines to the coldest ground in the world on a wet December night is nothing short of fantastic. Parkinson, Andrew Davies and Oldham Athletic have all commented on the impressive nature of the Bantams fans. Unfortunately we were left empty handed coming away from Oldham and the 2,500 City fans minds turned to this Saturday.

City were not great on Tuesday night, not a patch on their Saturday performance against Wimbledon, but that was to be expected considering the number of changes. I’d expect that had we put out the same team against Oldham as we did against Wimbledon we would have fared much better. Last Saturday showed what City can do against an opponent who claimed a comfortable 3 points at Valley Parade only 6 weeks ago. This City team now look solid, but are struggling for goals up at the other end of the pitch. Hopefully Phil Parkinson now knows what is his best eleven and he can begin to tinker with the team less. Last Saturday against Wimbledon the team looked to have far more balance and benefitted from two strikers, two wingers and two central midfielders. Parkinson has to stick to this formula as much as possible.

Plymouth have recently changed managers and it paid dividends as they won their last league game 4-1 against, an admittedly poor, Northampton team. Player boss Carl Fletcher will bring his team up to West Yorkshire hoping to eliminate the points gap with ourselves which earlier in the season looked an impossible task. With the history between Marcel Seip and Plymouth, Fletcher will no doubt have his team fired up for the game, something City need to match if they are to win.

With an illness sweeping through the City squad, it is difficult to see what sort of a team Phil Parkinson will be able to put out for Saturdays match. Ricky Ravenhill, extremely impressive against Wimbledon, is the latest to be struck down and he will be a big miss in the middle if unavailable.

Having seemingly regained his confidence, Jonny Mac will continue in goal, continuing to hold the number 1 shirt currently above Matt Duke.

After Liam Moore’s disappointing performance it is almost certain that Simon Ramsden will be recalled for the right back spot. Andrew Davies and this seasons Player-of-the-Year-So-Far Luke Oliver will continue to forge their partnership in the centre of defence and former Plymouth man Marcel Seip will slot in at left back to complete the defence.

Craig Fagan and Kyel Reid will be recalled to perform on the flanks against Plymouth, and after sitting out his one game ban on Tuesday, Michael Flynn will be back. Ricky Ravenhill will partner him depending on fitness, with Ritchie Jones on stand by having returned to action on Tuesday night.

Up front James Hanson will continue to lead the line, with a likely recall for Ross Hannah, with Nahki Wells seemingly more effective in the ‘super sub’ role against tired defenders in the latter stages of the match.

As strong a team as City can put out, it is time they transferred some of the form from the cup competitions into the league. How many times have we heard that before?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Goals Win Games

Howard Wilkinson once said ‘I am a firm believer that if you score one goal the other team have to score two to win’ and as obvious as that seems, it seems particularly fitting for Bradford City at the moment.

On Saturday City were much the better team. They controlled the game, the tempo and at times played football to a level which we haven’t seen at Valley Parade for some years now. It felt great to watch a team go out and attack, play positively and actively look to win the game. Yet City still didn’t win. In 7 games so far this season, City have scored 9 goals; 6 of which came in two games. Reducing the rest to 3 goals in 5 games; a paltry amount.

While this season is still new, and the play has been very encouraging, it seems City are still struggling for goals as they did last year. The play, despite being much improved has failed to yield more goals. Whether this is down to the service or the strikers is debatable. So far this season, numerous front lines have been seen; Stewart-Hanson-Compton, Hanson-Stewart, Hanson-Hannah, Hanson-Stewart-Hannah, Hanson-Devitt, Hanson-Rodney, Rodney-Hannah, Hanson-Wells etc... What we can see from this though, is that no partnership has been given any time to blossom.

Without a period of stability up front, it is unlikely that any striker - no matter how good or poor they may be – is going to be able to feel settled and perform to their maximum. It is no secret that Phil Parkinson wanted to add another striker to his ranks in the shape of Paul Benson before the window closed and if rumours are to be believed a signing this afternoon is in the pipelines.

Despite the apparent disruption up front with the numerous different line ups, the signing, if right, is key as the current forward crop is very inexperienced. Hanson, Hannah, Stewart, Rodney and Wells have something around 35 Football League goals between them – around 25 of them being Hanson’s – so it is blatantly obvious that an experienced head is needed up front. Oddly, Peter Jackson highlighted this in the summer, but either didn’t try, or failed to bring in an older head up front.

The addition of a wise old head up front would be immeasurable at this moment in time. It would take a lot of pressure off the front line. Ross Hannah still looks very raw, Mark Stewart while looking a good player is taking time to adapt from the Scottish game, Rodney and Wells have had limited game time and Hanson is coming in for criticism.

Hanson suffers from being the focal point of the strike force. While it is right to expect him to have improved and be more of a threat in what is now his third season as a professional, he never had an ‘easy’ bedding in period and was first choice almost from the word go. Bringing in an experienced striker would allow Hanson to perhaps take a back seat, reassess his game and come back a better player.

With the likes of Rory Fallon and Craig Fagan being linked to the club, Hanson may soon find his role slightly decreased, allowing him the period of reflection he badly needs. It could well be make or break for him as he becomes a more seasoned campaigner and imperative in his, hopefully, improvement.

I will admit I am not Hanson’s biggest fan, but if he can get a break from first team action, a refreshed and rejuvenated Hanson can be a big asset to Bradford City. If he plays as we know he can do, he brings others into the action, setting up and scoring goals. Something which he did very well in his first season at the club – and something I’m sure someone like Ross Hannah would thrive off.

Howard Wilkinson once said ‘I am a firm believer that if you score one goal the other team have to score two to win’ and he difference between this City team finish lower mid table or challenging for the play offs is goals. And the key to that is James Hanson and his fellow strikers. Hopefully Phil Parkinson can pull off his signing – it could be a key moment in the season. 
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Work in Progress

As Liam Moore clenched his fists with delight at the hard earned last gasp draw at Morecambe on Saturday, there was an odd feeling of joy tempered with despondency, having seen that City have dropped into the bottom four of the football league. A position, which compared to this time last season, is not too dissimilar.

Saturday couldn’t have started any worse for the team; having to stop off for food as the on coach cooker broke, and then getting caught up in traffic, delaying arrival until 2.30. These sorts of mishaps can often have a noticeable effect on the opening stages of the game, but perhaps aided by the atrocious conditions, City coped admirably as they shaded a weak first half with minimal chances.

City started the second half in a good manner, pinning back Morecambe for periods, but fell behind to a well struck shot from Izak Reid after a goalmouth scramble. A long range shot deceived everyone including keeper Matt Duke as it dipped to hit the bar. Two 6 yard blocks from Luke Oliver prevented a goal but the ball fell to Reid who smashed it home.

The goal came somewhat out of the blue and knocked City totally out of their stride. Having tried to play some football in the diabolical conditions, all City’s progressive work went out of the window as panic ensued and the long ball was resurrected. Allowing Morecambe to gain a strong grip on the game, it looked as it City would yet again come away from Morecambe pointless. But once again, as at Oxford, Ross Hannah came off the bench to secure a vital away point for the travelling masses. Now I love Hannah, his attitude is spot on but I don’t think he is ready to start games yet – he looks slow, weak and a little lost; all things which can be worked on - but one thing you cannot fault him for is his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Hannah seems to posses the lauded after ability of being the ‘fox in the box’ which means he will score goals given the service.

The table may make for similar reading when compared to this time last year, but the difference in attitude from the players, and fans, could not be more evident. This team encapsulates the determination of captain Guy Branston. It doesn’t know when it is beaten and won’t give up until the final whistle is blown. All very positive to see. And this was reflected in the celebrations; exuberance which hasn’t been seen in a long time – even including Robbie Threlfall accidentally taking out a fan who had encroached onto the pitch!

There were positives all over the pitch, particularly Kyel Reid and Jamie Devitt. Reid, despite clearly not being match fit, showed touches of class and when fully fit should be a menace to League Two right backs. And Devitt, who came on with 30 minutes to go, nearly scored twice and showed enough enthusiasm to pop up all over the pitch, often running off the front two as a support striker.

James Hanson remains an enigma, though. He comes in for a lot of undue criticism but equally receives vastly over the top praise and if we look at it objectively, he is an average League Two forward. However, following two impressive performances against Barnet and Sheffield Wednesday, including two goals, Hanson struggled to make any impact on Saturday. Admittedly, long balls pumped up to him while he is 35 yards from goal are far from perfect, but he rarely won a header, looked lost on the pitch and when he had a golden opportunity from 6 yards out, his header lacked conviction. Frustrating is not the word as we know what Hanson can be capable of, but into his third season as a pro now, he should be aiming for greater levels of consistency.

Follow this up next week with a win though and I think we can firmly believe City are heading in the right direction, two homes wins sandwiched either side of a point away from home is the hallmark of a good team. The slow start would be slowly forgotten about and considering the amount of upheaval in the last two weeks, this would represent excellent progress for the team.
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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Continuing the Continuity

Colin Cooper clearly wants to be a manager. He has admitted as much, and admitted that he wanted to be considered for the City position when it became available. Earlier this week, all the noises pointed towards Cooper also departing the club though, with Parkinson bringing in his own man. However, Cooper is staying and it is a good thing for all at Valley Parade.

Cooper is an incredibly well qualified coach – he has all the qualifications up to his UEFA Pro License – required to manage at the very top level, and City couldn’t ask for a better coach. Cooper stepped into the breach when Peter Jackson departed last week to maintain a level of continuity and stability for the players and things couldn’t have gone better for the caretaker boss. He led City to their first win this season – an emphatic 4-2 victory and managed to see City through to the second round of the JPT, knocking out higher level opponents.

Since stepping up to the role of boss, the players seem to have begun playing as we were promised in pre season – getting the ball down more regularly, playing it around on the floor. The return to fitness of Ritchie Jones has had a big part in this, as in the games he has played since being fit, he has looked a class act. He never panics on the ball and always looks to do something productive with it.

Back to Colin Cooper though, paired now with Phil Parkinson, gives City a management team that fills me with confidence. It would have been easy for Parkinson to let Cooper go – seeing him as a threat to his position in the long run – but keeping him now means the club have a young, well respected, progressive management team; a pair who could really lay the foundations for the clubs improvement and perhaps dare I say it, long awaited climb back up the league.

Cooper will be able to pass on a greater knowledge of the squad to Parkinson, and together they will hopefully be able to mould a team capable of competing in this league.

I am delighted he is staying and I hope it proves to be a long, fruitful stay at the club. 
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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Proud to be City

Following the performance against Aldershot, anything could have happened at Elland Road last night. Had the team performed to a similar level, the score could have been embarrassing. But the team did us proud last night. It is an awfully long time since I have witnessed a performance like that from a City team. A performance with passion, commitment and drive. Which as fans is all we can ask for. It was a complete contrast from the Aldershot game.

Walking out of Valley Parade on Saturday and walking out of Elland Road last night, the emotions felt could not be any more different. Following Aldershot a sense of despondency filled the air and the pre season optimism had seemingly vanished. But last night every fan coming out of Elland Road was pleased and the optimism seemed to have returned. There seemed to be a feeling that if the team can carry on playing in that manner then we’ll do OK.

Peter Jackson changed the shape of the side from Saturday; changing from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1/4-3-3 with Jack Compton and Mark Stewart playing the winger/support striker roles. And it worked well. Mark Stewart in particularly enjoyed space and ran well at the defenders – none of which were comfortable in dealing with him. If he can learn to compose himself when he reaches the area he could be a dangerous player this year.

David Syers was back to his best, too. In the second half of last season he struggled with his form a bit but last night he bossed the midfield until he went off injured. In fact, his injury was a game changing moment; when he went off the City midfield lacked his energy and it allowed the Leeds midfield to begin to move the ball around much more easily. If Syers can maintain that form once again, he will be a top, top player this year.

The squad showed last night that when they want to, they can play very well. However, two of the Leeds goals were very avoidable. For their second Steve Williams lost his man allowing him a free header at the back post and the third goal was through a lack of communication. Clearly there is still work to do but if City can begin to cut out these errors, a decent season can be had.

Despite defeat, walking out of Elland Road we could all hold our heads high, knowing we went to a top half Championship team and gave them a scare. It's just a shame we couldn't hold on but we didn’t look out of place and the team can be very pleased with their efforts. Well done City.

Let’s hope the performance can replicated at Oxford this Saturday and we get our first three points of the season.

Here are those goals again.....
video

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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Look at the Opposition: Part 3

Here is the final part of our League Two preview.


Plymouth Argyle
MANAGER
Peter Reid
PLAYERS IN
Robbie Williams, Durrell Berry, Jake Cole, Luke Daley
PLAYERS OUT
Joe Mason
Where to start? Relegated last year in administration, almost closing this summer and sacking a player who refused to defer his wages. Signed Liam Dickinson only for him to leave within a month, Argyle are in a bad position at the moment. Probably more likely to be nearer the bottom than the top, a second successive relegation could be on the cards for the team from Devon.
Port Vale
MANAGER
Micky Adams
PLAYERS IN
Ryan Burge, Ben Williamson, Kingsley James, Phil Roe, Clayton McDonald, Mike Green
PLAYERS OUT
Matt Bell, Kris Taylor, Justin Richards
Having returned to Vale less than a year after leaving them for Sheffield United, Micky Adams has a point to prove. However, having to put himself on the board to enable him to sign players was not the best preparation for the season, but the squad remains largely the same as it was when he left. Securing Gareth Owen again will be a major boost for Adams and Vale and if he can get them playing to the same standard he did before he departed, Vale will be contenders again.
Rotherham United
MANAGER
Andy Scott
PLAYERS IN
Ben Pringle, Gareth Evans, Luke Foster, Chris Holroyd, Troy Brown,
Lewis Grabban, Danny Schofield
PLAYERS OUT
Nick Fenton, Stephen Brogan, Jamie Green, Grant Darley, Luke Ashworth, Mark Bradley, Tom Pope (Transfer Listed), Kevin Elison,
Ryan Taylor, Ian Thomas-Moore, Nicky Law
Defeat at Valley Parade saw manager Ronnie Moore sacked and a subsequent disastrous run of form which saw the Millers go from automatic contenders to middle of the table has beens. Rotherham capitulated similarly to how City did in 2008/09 and new manager Scott will be hoping to improve on that this season. In theory their last season at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, promotion would be an excellent way to reintroduce Rotherham to their home town. The first team remains largely similar, but losing Nicky Law is a blow and with a month of the transfer window to go, Le Fondre could still go. Probable play off contenders.
Shrewsbury Town
MANAGER
Graham Turner
PLAYERS IN
Marvin Morgan , Joe Jacobson, Reuben Hazell, Terry Gornell
PLAYERS OUT
Dave Raven ,  Kevin McIntyre, Craig Disley, Danny Taylor, Harry Hooman, Jake Robinson, Matt Harrold
Sooner or later Shrewsbury must reach League One. They have been threatening for the last 5 years but have so far failed to make the next step. Losing out in the play offs last year was a bitter pill to swallow following the return of club legend Graham Turner and they will be hoping to go one better this year. Have strengthened their squad well and will be up there.
Southend United
MANAGER
Paul Sturrock
PLAYERS IN
Neil Harris, Jemal Johnson, Alassane N'Diaye, Liam Dickinson, JP Kalala, Ryan Leonard
PLAYERS OUT
Rhys Evans, Miguel Comminges, Johnny Herd, Adam Bouzid , Louie Soares, Craig Easton
Had an excellent season last year considering the position they were in. Sturrock came in with no squad to speak of and managed to put together a team which performed well in the league. Adding Neil Harris to his squad is a shrewd move and with service will surely guarantee Southend 15 goals this year. Harris is also an excellent provider of chances and any improvement in their final position will rest on his form. They should be challenging for the play offs.
Swindon Town
MANAGER
Paulo Di Canio
PLAYERS IN
Joe Devera, Jonathan Smith, Raffaele De Vita, Alberto Comazzi, Oliver Risser, Ibrahim Atiku, Medhi Kerrouche, Alessandro Cibocchi, Alan Connell.
PLAYERS OUT
Alan Sheehan, Michael Rose, David Prutton, Scott Cuthbert, Alan O'Brien, Thomas Dossevi, Vincent Pericard, Jean Francois Lescinal,
Jon-Paul McGovern, Elliot Benyon
Paulo Di Canio has decided to make his managerial debut in League Two with Swindon this year following their relegation last season. Surprisingly relegated last year after play off final defeat the year before, Swindon will be looking for an immediate return to League One. A large overhaul of the squad has seen many of last season’s underperformers gone to be replaced by younger, hungrier players. Many foreign imports, Di Canio’s plan is one which looks as if it could go two ways; excellently and an instant return to League One or disastrously. Swindon should be up there though, and even if they aren’t with Di Canio around it certainly isn’t going to be boring!
Torquay United
MANAGER
Martin Ling
PLAYERS IN
Chris McPhee, Daniel Leadbitter, Jon Oastler, Robert Olejnik, Brian Saah, Rene Howe, Ian Morris, Taiwo Atieno
PLAYERS OUT
Danny Potter, Scott Bevan, Guy Branston, Chris Zebroski
Last years play off final losers, Torquay surprised everyone by getting that far last season. Having played some excellent football under Paul Buckle and going over 8 games without conceding, Torquay have a lot to live up to after last year. Buckle has now departed though, to be replaced by Martin Ling, and they have lost defensive organiser Guy Branston. Robert Olejnik is an impressive keeper signed from Falkirk , but Torquay will do well to match last seasons performance. Mid table to play off challengers.
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A Look at the Opposition: Part 2

Here is part two of our 3 part series preview of City's League Two opponents this season.

Crewe Alexandra
MANAGER
Dario Gradi
PLAYERS IN
Alan Martin
PLAYERS OUT
Calvin Zola, Patrick Ada, Matt Mitchel-King, Joel Grant, Danny Blanchett, Lewis Short, Ashley Westwood, Bartlek Fogler, Pat Ada, Clayton Donaldson
Crewe came up short when it mattered last year in terms of the play offs. Sitting 3rd in early 2011, it looked as if the club could sustain a promotion challenge but a run of 11 games without an away point put paid to that – until their 5-1 win at Valley Parade! Having lost Clayton Donaldson they have some goals to replace but the likes of Shaun Miller are more than capable of meeting the challenge. Gradi is well known for using his youngsters well and expect them to be mid table/challenging for the plly offs.
Dagenham and Redbridge
MANAGER
John Still
PLAYERS IN
Medy Elito, Rob Edmans, Jake Reed, Brian Woodall, James Shea, Sam Williams, Luke Howell, Richard Rose, Sam Williams
PLAYERS OUT
Phil Ifill, Bas Savage, Graeme Montgomery, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Danny Green, Darren Currie, Will Antwi, Romain Vincelot, Tony Roberts
The minnows from Essex performed admirably in League One last year where they were comfortably the smallest club in the league. Notable results against Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday were great for the club, who weren’t far off surviving last year. However, they have lost some influential players including Danny Green, Tony Roberts and Romain Vincelot who was the subject of a bid from Bradford City. John Still, who was linked with the City job, knows the non league scene like the back of his hand and expect him to find a few diamonds. They will hope to be challenging towards the top again.
Gillingham
MANAGER
Andy Hessenthaler
PLAYERS IN
Matt Fish, Chris Whelpdale, Ross Flitney, Andy Frampton, Lewis Montrose, Danny Kedwell, Charlie Lee, Adam Birchall, Paulo Gazzaniga
PLAYERS OUT
Alan Julian, John Nutter, Mark Bentley, Josh Gowling, Tony Sinclair, Lance Cronin, Mark McCammon, Andy White, Andy Barcham, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Chris Palmer
Having missed out on promotion last season, Hessenthaler has had his playing budget cut drastically which has seen him lose some key players, such as Andy Barcham and Adebayo Akinfenwa. However, the signings of Chris Whelpdale and Andy Frampton are both impressive and signing Danny Kedwell from AFC Wimbledon could be a masterstroke if he can carry on his goal scoring exploits from last season.
Hereford United
MANAGER
Jamie Pitman
PLAYERS IN
Delroy Facey, Stefan Stam, Harry Pell, Yoann Arquin
PLAYERS OUT
Janos Kovacs (Transfer Listed), Sean Canham (Transfer Listed), Richard Rose, Sam Gwyne, Ryan Valentine, Daniel Stratford, Sam Malsom, Adrian Patulea, Aidan Thomas
The man who started last season as physio but ended it as manager did a stellar job as he managed to stave off relegation for The Bulls. In fact since Pitman took over, the form they showed if replicated over the season would have seen them finish high mid-table. Stefan Stam is a solid addition at the back but they still lack goals in the team. Stuart Fleetwood will always get goals but he lacks any real support up front, although Delroy Facey will get his obligatory 8-12 goals. No doubt with a couple chucked in against City. Don’t expect a lot from Hereford but unlikely that they will be scrapping at the very bottom.
Macclesfield Town
MANAGER
Gary Simpson
PLAYERS IN
Jon Bateson, Scott Kay, Tom Fisher, Ben Tomlinson,  Waide Fairhurst.
PLAYERS OUT
Matt Lowe, Rickly Sappleton, Jason Beardsley, Paul Bolland, Hamza Bencherif, Izak Reid, Tyrone Barnett
Macclesfield are always tipped for relegation at this time of year, yet for the last couple of seasons they haven’t really been troubled by relegation fears. Gary Simpson has managed to keep the Silkmen in the league with relative ease, despite working on a tiny budget. However, losing both Tyrone Bennet and Hamza Bencherif  is a big blow to his plans. Bringing in Ben Tomlinson, who scored 29 goals in the same league as Ross Hannah last season, is a gamble that could pay off as easily as it could fail. Waide Fairhurst has scored goals at this level before, which should be enough to see Macc safe for another year, but they could well be closer to the bottom this year.
Morecambe
MANAGER
Jim Bentley
PLAYERS IN
Kevin Elison, Izak Reid, Lewis Alessandra, Gary McDonald, Nicky Fenton
PLAYERS OUT
Scott Brown, Gavin Clarke, Stuart Hendrie, Andy Holdsworth, Chris Shuker, Laurie Walker, Neil Wainwright, Chris Wraighte, Tony Capaldi, Paul Mullin, Craig Stanley, Adam Rundle
Sammy McIlroy left Morecambe this summer having struggled to repeat the successes of the 2009/2010 season. Morecambe were in much trouble at points this season but managed to maintain their league status with a late run of form. Many players have been moved out of Morecambe with fewer coming in, new manager Bentley preferring to have a smaller, tight knit squad. A big test for Bentley, with this being his first foray into management, he will be given ample time and support at Morecambe where he is a club legend.
Northampton Town
MANAGER
Gary Johnson
PLAYERS IN
Byron Webster, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Jake Robinson, Ben Tozer, Paul Turnbull, Arron Davies, Nick McKoy, Lewis Young, Freddy Hall, Sam Walker,  Ashley Corker, Lumbardh Salihu, Marin Pozgain
PLAYERS OUT
Guillem Bauza, Liam Davis, Dean Beckwith, Courtney Herbert,  Paul Rodgers, Marcus Hall, Francis Laurent, Abdul Osman, Ryan Gilligan, Alex Konstantinou, Seb Harris, Leon McKenzie, Chris Dunn, Billy McKay
Gary Johnson was brought in last year with Northampton struggling horrendously. And although he struggled to get points at first, he did enough to keep Northampton up. He has overseen a lot of changes this summer and Northampton seem to be confident in their attack, but worried about their defensive capabilities. Northampton should be improved this year, but probably only to play off contenders.
Oxford United
MANAGER
Chris Wilder
PLAYERS IN
Tony Capaldi, Ryan James, Andy Whing, Jon-Paul Pittman, Deane Smalley, Michael Duberry, Peter Leven, Wayne Brown,  Liam Davis
PLAYERS OUT
Jack Midson, Djoumin Sangare, Mitchell Hanson, Simon Eastwood,
Sam Deering
Chris Wilder oversaw a successful return to league football for Oxford last season as the team fell just short of the play offs. Having spent numerous years in the non league, Oxford have now built on a solid first season with some impressive signings. Deane Smalley performed well for championship winning Chesterfield last year and Peter Leven has been an excellent performer in League One for the last few years. With Craddock and Constable up front still, expect Oxford to be up there this year.


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A Look at the Opposition: Part 1

Here is the first of our 3 part look at City's League Two opponents this coming season.

AFC Wimbledon
MANAGER
Terry Brown
PLAYERS IN
Max Porter, Matt Mitchel-King, Chris Bush, Charles Ademeno,
Jack Midson.
PLAYERS OUT
Ismail Yakubu, Jon Main, Ed Harris, Mark Nwokeji, Delano Sam-Yorke, Danny Kedwell, Steven Gregory
Following promotion via the play offs last year, Wimbledon fans are ecstatic about reclaiming ‘their place’ in the league. However, following the loss of influential midfielder Steve Gregory to Bournemouth and leading scorer Danny Kedwell to Gillingham, Wombles fans have readjusted their expectations – happy to be here and happy for a mid table finish.
Accrington Stanley
MANAGER
John Coleman
PLAYERS IN
Danny Coid, Kevin Mcintyre, Kurtis Guthrie
PLAYERS OUT
Jonny Bateson , Andy Parkinson, Chris Turner, Rory Boulding, Zak Riley, Andy Owens, Tom Smyth, Phil Edwards, Joe Jacobson, Jimmy Ryan, Terry Gornell, Alex Cisak, Sean McConville
Perennial underdogs, Coleman’s Accrington side shocked everyone last year by making the play offs. Unfortunately Stanley lost out to Stevenage and have lost key players such as Jimmy Ryan, Terry Gornell and keeper Alex Cisak. Throughout his time at Stanley, Coleman has seen his side finish higher in the league each year, so he has a tough task this year to carry on that tradition – but if he does it almost guarantees promotion for the Lancashire side.  
Aldershot Town
MANAGER
Dean Holdsworth
PLAYERS IN
Michael Rankine, Aaron Brown, Ross Worner, James Collins, Bradley Bubb
PLAYERS OUT
Marvin Morgan, Tim Sills, Wade Small, Jack Randall, Clayton Fortune, Ben Harding, Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, John Halls, Damian Spencer, Anthony Charles
Having come in half way through last season, Holdsworth steadied the ship which saw Aldershot go on an excellent run seeing them finish solidly in mid table. Have lost some big players from the last two seasons such as Anthony Charles and Marvin Morgan – although the latter didn’t play last year – and have replaced them with young players. This year will be a big test for Holdsworth and the Shots are unlikely to trouble anything higher than mid table.
Barnet
MANAGER
Lawrie Sanchez
PLAYERS IN
Sam Deering, Mark Byrne, Danny Senda
PLAYERS OUT
Glen Southam, Charlie Stimson, Danny Kelly, Reece Yorke, Jake Cole, Joe Devera
Having completed another great escape last season, Barnet haven’t seen much activity over summer. Grazioli, who kept them up, has gone into the background again and former Northern Ireland boss Sanchez has taken the reigns. With Izale McLeod and Steve Kabba up front they certainly have the firepower, but they both need to stay fit and receive the service. Otherwise it could be another season of struggle for the Bees.
Bristol Rovers
MANAGER
Paul Buckle
PLAYERS IN
Scott Bevan, Matt Gill, Craig Stanley, Adam Virgo, Mustapha Carayol, Lee Browns, Matt Harrold, Michael Smith, Scotty McGleish, Chris Zebroski, Joe Anyinsah, Lance Cronin, CIan Bolger,
Kayne Mclaggon, Michael Boateng
PLAYERS OUT
Will Hoskins, Jeff Hughes, Carl Regan, Danny Senda, Gavin Williams, JP Kalala, Mike Green, Darryl Duffy, Jerel Ifil, Ashley Bowle, Sam Butler, Jack Camm, Alex Hoyle, Robbi Maggs, Lewis Parker, Tyrone Rhoden, Tom Seery, Jordan Tilson, Jeff Hughes
Paul Buckle has overseen a lot of ins and outs over the summer at Rovers this year as they look to bounce back to League One at the first time of asking. Despite losing influential striker Will Hoskins to Championship newcomers Brighton, Buckle has made some impressive signings; including veteran lower league goal scorer Scott McGleish and League Two target man Matt Harrold. With the signings of Matt Gill and Joe Anyinsah in midfield, expect The Gas to be challenging this season.
Burton Albion
MANAGER
Paul Peschisolido
PLAYERS IN
Cleveland Taylor, Chris Palmer, Justin Richards
PLAYERS OUT
Richard Walker, Richard Jackson, Keith Gilroy, Lewis Young, Garyn Preen, Russell Penn
Burton struggled in their second year of league football last term and it doesn’t look as if they have strengthened particularly well. A lot of people are tipping Burton to be down there again, but if they can get Cleveland Taylor firing and Justin Richards scoring, who has Shaun Harrods sizable boots to fill, they should be OK.
Cheltenham
MANAGER
Mark Yates
PLAYERS IN
Russell Penn, Marlon Pack, Alan Bennett, Sido Jombati, Kaid Mohammed, Bagasan Graham,  Harry Hooman, Daryl Duffy, Ethan Moore, James Spencer
PLAYERS OUT
JJ Melligan, Frankie Artus, Mark Riley, Daniel Lloyd-Weston, Jake Lee, Michael Pook, Wesley Thomas
Cheltenham started last season excellently but a poor run saw them dragged down towards the bottom and had the season been a month longer, they could have been in real trouble. Having lost top scorer Wes Thomas to Crawley, Cheltenham look weak up top and it could be a big ask for them to repeat the form of early last season. A season of struggle could be on the cards for the team from Gloucestershire.
Crawley Town
MANAGER
Steve Evans
PLAYERS IN
John Akinde, Wesley Thomas, Scott Davies, Jamie Day, Hope Akpan, Tyrone Barnett
PLAYERS OUT
Nick Jordan, Danny Hall, Sam Rents, Jamie Cook, Steve Masterton,
Tommy Brewer, Craig McAllister, Richard Brodie, Ben Wright
Conference winners Crawley are to embark on their first taste of league football this season. Having won the Conference at a canter and dumping three league sides out of the FA Cup last term, many expect Crawley to waltz through League Two this year. Having spent money last year, they have continued this trend, picking up Tyrone Barnett from Macclesfield. Having cherry picked Wes Thomas from Cheltenham, alongside the already prolific Matt Tubbs, Crawley look to have a formidable strike force. Scott Davies is also an excellent free signing from Reading. Just don’t congratulate the manager.


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