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.