The last couple of weeks have been very reminiscent of the first few weeks of Stuart McCalls reign at City. When McCall joined the club, it was relatively late into the summer and we were left to pick up the freebies no one else really wanted; we welcomed the likes of Paul Evans and Paul Heckingbottom back to the club and also managed to secure the signings of players such as Scott Phelan.
With just two signings to date, a lot has been made of the lack of transfer activity by Peter Jackson so far this summer. One of his signings is very good in Guy Branston and Ross Hannah is also an exciting prospect, although unproven in the football league currently. McCall’s rushed together side struggled badly at first and a dreadful October saw the club slide to 8 games without a win and 21st in League Two. After the debacle of last season, Jacko cannot afford for this to happen again. The team needs time to gel and he needs to be signing players capable of improving the weak squad currently at the club.
Whilst it wouldn’t be sensible to jump straight into bed with the first player City talk to, time is of the essence if Jackson wants to put together a team capable of competing towards the top end of the division. Rushing into signings can often lead to being lumped with players who are either not good enough or only here for money. However, waiting too long can also prove problematic and lead to panic signings, as seen last season when Peter Taylor brought in Jake Speight, at a cost of £25,000, who proved to be nowhere near good enough.
It does, however, seem as if the club have been chasing unrealistic targets so far this summer. While ambitious targets are great, and the players targeted so far would have improved City immeasurably, it is unlikely they would have ever joined the club. Clayton Donaldson is only a target as he is Bradford born-and-bred and while the emotional pull of playing at Valley Parade is clearly strong for him, if he has any professional pride he won’t be found anywhere near Valley Parade come 6th August. Likewise, Ashley Grimes, having signed for Rochdale clearly stated while still at Lincoln that next season he would be playing higher than League Two, and finally Gary Jones – a Rochdale legend – was highly unlikely to ever leave the club.
While the ambition involved in targeting these players is commendable, if Jackson doesn’t have plans B and C, we could find ourselves at the bottom of the pile scrapping around for the leftovers.
I trust Peter Jackson has other targets in mind, but we are at risk of not having a proper team gelled together by the beginning of the season, meaning we are back to where we started 4 years ago in the league, using the rest of the season to catch up. Perhaps tomorrow being July 1st will see our fears allayed somewhat with numerous signings – where is the Scottish duo from Falkirk? –but being almost a week into pre-season, it is time the squad started taking shape more. Maybe it’s just impatience with a lack of news emanating from Valley Parade, but a couple of signings to get excited over would be nice!