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?