Bradford City 2-0 Sheffield United

Last updated : 27 August 2013 By deadbat_db

After winning the first game of the season with a very good performance, the Blades have now followed it up with four games without a win. The latest game saw a defeat and another poor performance as they went down lamely at Valley Parade. The Blades did have some chances but in reality for most of the game they were second best as the dangerous Nakhi Wells scored one in each half to see of the visitors.

Manager Weir kept faith with the same eleven that began last week against Colchester although on the bench were Flynn and Ironside in place of Johns and Eyre.

The game began with United starting with Murphy just behind Taylor and it was he who had the first chance as United cleared a Bradford corner and knocked the ball forward inside the left channel. Murphy got away and was suddenly in on goal but from the angle his shot lacked direction McLaughlin saved with his legs. McMahon had a free kick easily saved by the keeper as United started the game on the front foot. Bradford started to come back into the game and McMahon let his man get in twice but both crosses were cleared. They were not so fortunate when Meredith got away down the left and squared for Wells who seemed certain to score but Long made a superb save down to his left. Brandy then had a chance but his low shot was saved before he went down looking for a penalty. The appeal seemed frivolous as Brandy’s penchant for going to ground continued. Referee Foy then waved away an appeal at the other end after the ball seemed to hit McMahon. This seemed a much better appeal but was not given despite the protestations of the City players. After United had started well, Doyle and Jones for City were starting to control midfield and United were getting pushed back.

Wells had another effort Long saved and then from a free kick from ex Blade Yeates, Long beat the ball away. City were looking dangerous and Hanson’s height was seeing the ball being won in the air and then the wide men were running at the full backs. Another scramble in front of Long saw Maguire punt clear and it was backs to the walls stuff.

It was not a surprise when the opening goal did come. It came from the most likely source as the Bermudan striker Wells scored for the eighth successive game.

WELLS got wide and shook off Collins easily before hitting a low angled drive right into the far corner. It was a great individual goal but poor defending from United. The half time whistle came not long after.

McFadzean was taken off at half time and Flynn came on and then soon after the restart Brandy pulled up and had to be replaced by Ironside who went up top with Taylor playing more wide left and Flynn sitting deeper and Murphy on the right. Despite the changes United struggled to create much and City were coping with them comfortably. United were at least playing more of the game in the City half but in truth as they huffed and puffed they were creating little. They won a few corners but they came to nothing.

It was ex Blade for ex Blade Reid entered the fray replacing Yeates.
United did have an effort on goal as Flynn hit a shot that deflected up towards goal but McLaughlin tipped over at full stretch as it was spinning seemingly goal bound.
United had a great chance when Flynn’s header into the box fell invitingly for Ironside but he volleyed over the bar. It was a dreadful attempt from the youngster and a good chance gone begging. Maguire then headed wide from a corner. United were at least creating something but had never really looked like scoring and other than the Ironside miss, had not had any real clear chances.

Porter came on for McGinty and United seemed to switch to three at the back as they attempted to get back in the game. Several poor crosses and final balls killed any chance of getting a leveller and from a break, City sealed the game.

Another substitute De Vita had a shot saved from Long but the ball was not cleared and fell to WELLS who volleyed the ball down into the turf and although it was a miskick it bounced up and into the net wrongfooting the unfortunate Long. That really was game, set and match. Many United fans headed for the exits and missed another awful cross, this time from Flynn that went out of play. Bradford had another chance through Wells but his free kick just went wide denying him a hat trick. Stoppage time came and there were little incidents as the game petered out to signal another victory for the high flying Bantams and another desperately depressing afternoon for Weir’s Blades.

United – Another poor performance. We had our best spell in the first 5 minutes. After that we were mostly second best. Murphy had a good chance and hit the keeper when one on one on the angle and Brandy had a shot saved but after this they gradually got more into the game and we were then hanging on. They had a number of balls going across the goal and won a series of corners and pinned us further and further back. Our two full backs were so easy to get at and Hanson was winning the aerial battle and bringing others into play. Long made quite a few saves and Wells had 2 good chances but then finally with an even harder chance he scored just before half time. It had been coming as many fans around me commented.

Second half was a bit more even but in general play they coped comfortably and the keeper only had one save to make the entire second half when Flynn’s deflected shot was tipped over. Ironside missed a good chance but when I tell you it went into the upper tier that shows how close it was! They played more on the break but looked more likely than us to score and could have had 3 or 4 more goals before Wells scored a mis hit second. It could have gone in moments before as the ball pinged around our box.

It was a routine 2-0 win really and the home side deserved their success against a spineless United side that looks more like relegation contenders than promotion hopefuls. People may say I am going over the top with that statement but today and last week have been as bad, if not worse than anything we saw last season. At least we had a bit of a goal threat (Blackman, Kitson) or creativity (Robson, McDonald). Now we don’t look like creating and the odd chance we do get we miss. I cannot see where the goals are coming from. 5 games and not one goal from a forward player says it all. I remember someone saying pre season they fancied our front players all to chip in with 10+ but I would be gob smacked if any of these got into double figures.

Yes we had 2 or 3 chances (maybe would have different if Murphy had scored) but overall we were second best and on the balance of play; 2-0 was just about right for the game I felt regardless of chances or possession. They had more significant efforts on goal, our keeper made a lot more saves and most of the good play in the final thirds of the field came from them. They controlled midfield and any smattering of decent football came from them.

Weir says Wells was the difference and yes from an outsiders point of view and any who were not there; he is right to a degree but saying that masks a lot of huge weaknesses. Other than the Murphy chance, a couple of long rangers and a glaring Ironside miss; we never really looked like creating much or scoring. I think we could have still been playing now and not scored. The ‘new’ formation means we will not create much and Taylor, as poor as he looks, is so isolated. Whoever he plays in the wide/attacking roles, they do not look like they have the fight, ability or pace to worry defenders. They are easy to play against. Brandy again had a few flashes but even he never got any decent balls in before going off injured and now maybe out for a while which is concerning even more. The rest McFadzean, Murphy, Taylor, Flynn or all much of a muchness. Sadly the ‘muchness’ is poor. They do not look like threatening. They lose the ball too easily, all of them have poor touches and none actually properly penetrate. In the centre of midfield we gave up way too much ball.

At the back the full backs were woeful and the so called solid centre back combination looks ropey this season and teams are creating a number of chances due as much to our poor play as their good play. The players are no nearer to adapting in any way to the way Weir wants them to play and we have gone backwards (literally and metaphorically) since that Notts County game. I am not being unfair to say that game by game we are getting worse. People will say it will take time to say how they want them to and he needs half a season or a full season but these players are sadly not good enough to pass it out from the back. Opposition managers have watched us and just pressure us and we cough up possession. They know that if they out pressure on the centre backs or midfielders they will lose it. If teams work hard against us they will beat us. Sadly this so called pressing we were supposed to see we have seen none of and when we lose the ball we just backpedal and teams come at us. I thought we were supposed to be in team’s faces, winning the ball high up the pitch? I watched Murphy, McFadzean and Taylor yesterday and they just jogged around and let them come out.

If we carry on with the same set of players, formation and intended approach we will probably be in a relegation fight. Fine if Weir wants to carry on playing such a way but to me it is not even about being smarter, formations or tactics. It is about a set of players that are the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime of supporting United. A lot will say the formation is not working and maybe we need more help up front and maybe the approach of trying to pass it out is not working but even if they made subtle changes to the approach, formation or how they go about things, I do not think it will matter. It is quite simple. The players are mostly rubbish. They are generally weak, slow, lacking skill and even more so lacking fight and bottle. Most are completely spineless and seem disinterested.

As we plunged to our lowest league position for 30 years; I still do not think we are even close to bottoming out. I heard a few going out saying it won’t get much worse but I think it has the potential to get worse. The side is a mixture of the leftovers we cannot get rid of as we gave big contracts to, to some young players that do not look ready (Coady, McFadzean etc) to some new ones that don’t look any better than the rubbish ones we already have. Is Taylor any better than Porter? McGinty better than Hill? Coady any better than Whitehouse? Worryingly we seem to have squandered money on more poor players. I just hope somehow we can bring 3 or 4 in. We need them and fast. In reality we need about 8 or 9 but now it is too late. Weir has said he wants to see everyone and assess them but he has wasted time in some ways by doing that. We all knew they were mostly rubbish! Hopefully the good thing is he may have seen it quickly now. Trouble is he is stuck with them and will only be able to get maybe a few in as the ridiculous contracts many are on and the dross we are littered with means he cannot just dump 8 or 9 and bring 8 or 9 in. I would have been all for the Charlton approach of starting again in the summer but as a new manager and with the aforementioned contracts we are saddled with; Weir probably felt like it was a risk to do this. It concerns me he had little knowledge of our players and the division and that in essence he is learning as he goes. Another 5-6 games of what we are seeing though and he is going to be under pressure (not to lose his job but in terms of position in the league etc). He is going to have to learn faster. Despite being left with utter rubbish to work with he will have to be more ruthless and realise who are not good enough and do his best to get them out of the club (some I know he can’t).

He says there is nothing imminent in terms of players coming in. That worries me. I would not be shocked if we get to next week and no one arrives and he sees none of the funds from the McDonald sale. If we go into September with this collection of players and do not get some new blood then it is going to be a depressing winter if the performances so far are anything to go by.

People may say the above is panicking unnecessarily and say he needs time and the team needs time but this side is clearly very poor and we have a side that had no talisman, no goalscorer and looks easy to score against. I am unsure without the introduction of a number of new personnel how we can improve. I don’t think many of the players will suddenly become great footballers. Maybe a few of the young ones can get better? The rest will not start doing things they have never done their whole career. Weir will work with them every day and can coach and coach but you cannot polish turds. I heard others comparing it to the McEwan side of the mid to late 80’s. In many ways it is worse than that. At least we had an Edwards or latterly a Beagrie. There is no one in this side to hang your hat on. I can cope with poor play, passing and even the lack of goal threat but worryingly we look rudderless and seem to be devoid of any real passion. Yesterday I cannot recall a bad tackles or when we got stuck in. Maguire got booked near the end but if I am being honest then I would rather us get a few bookings, get our foot in more. It was all too easily.

Bradford – They were better than us. They were not scintillating but worked hard, were well organised and have a goal scorer. All things we do not have. Out of the three sides I have seen they are the best one I have seen but worryingly even then I think they will be just about half way or maybe a touch higher and cannot see them being serious challengers for promotion. So god only knows where that leaves us?!

The veteran Jones picked up all the bits and pieces and did the job Doyle is supposed to do for us. He bossed midfield. The wide men were a threat but facing abysmal full backs. The defence handled our forwards rather easily.

It was interesting watching the tactics and their style. They did not play direct football but got the ball into the front men quickly or into the channels and then got men around the ball and got it wide and got crosses in. They looked like they may create and score goals. We did not.

For all the talk over our players not being good enough, they are probably all to a man on more than the likes of Colchester and Bradford but are getting outworked and outplayed as much as outthought. We lost too much of the ball in the centre of the field and never kept it when we had it. They did both these things much better than us. They knew their strengths better than us where as we do not seem to know what (if anything) we do well.

Players not really considered good enough for United like Davies, Yeates and even sub Kyel Reid looked much better than anything we have. A sad state of affairs when most of these players are ordinary at best.

Opposition star man – Nakhi Wells. He looked dangerous all day. He had one shot saved by Long and another few efforts. He ran the channels, worked hard and then scored a terrific angled shot. His second was a bit lucky but he got in the right area and he was a threat all afternoon. Allegedly we could have had him for less than 100K a few years ago. Not sure if that is right but we have missed out. He is probably going to go for a couple of million now. He is definitely capable of playing Championship and like Rhodes a few years ago, will probably make that next step up soon and Bradford will do well to keep him.

Opposition weak link – Stephen Darby. Bradford all had 7 or 8/10 performers but Darby was not great and our better attacks came down that side was we attacked him and he looked slow and easy to turn. Sadly we did not take advantage.

Long 8/10 – Excellent overall. He made one stunning save point blank range from Wells, saved another low down in the first half and a few more as they attacked on the break. No chance on the goals as the first went right in the corner and the second was a mishit that wrong footed him. I think United will do well to keep him as he looks very good and the only bright spot in our team. Without him we could have lost 5 or 6 in both our away games.

McMahon 4/10 – Another shocking performance. He gave his winger so much room and space and to be honest they could have scored 2 or 3 times in the first half after his man got down the left and got balls over. He blames everyone but himself for his poor play although at times he did have 2 v 1 as our formation means often opposition full backs can get lots of time and push on as we don’t really have natural wide men. He was lucky not to have a penalty given against him after a fairly blatant handball too. A player who seems to think he is better than he is. The reality is he is not even good enough to stop League One wingers. Sadly Westlake is as bad. He offers something going forward but is equally poor defensively. It may be he gets restored though as at least being young he may improve. In an ideal world we would dump both and sign a proper right back.

McGinty 3/10 – After seeing him at York I was concerned why we had signed him and the last few games have confirmed my fears. He is dreadful. He just kicks it when he had it to nowhere in particular, is clumsy in possession and stumbles around aimlessly. That is just going forward. Defensively he is woeful too. He gives his winger too much time, fails to stop the cross and generally looks a liability. They also got down his side time and time again to get crosses in. In the second half he got even worse and a few punts out of play summed him up. They have to bring Hill back who must wonder what he has done wrong when 4 shocking full backs all have started games before him.

Maguire 5/10 – His poor start to the season continued as the general confusion over how we are actually playing seems to have really got to him. Today he started try play it out but then lost it or overplayed a few times. He then started lumping it which at least meant he would not lose it! Saw Weir really frustrated with him second half when he did it again. As a player he does have attributes but he actually is going backwards at the moment. For his own sake he maybe should have moved on a year ago but now we will not get a move as he is playing poorly and struggling with strikers like Hanson. He needs to improve but is one player who seems to be struggling with the new way Weir is trying to get us to play.

Collins 5 /10 – Him and Maguire kept swapping between Wells and Hanson but both were given a pretty torrid time and mostly Collins was on Wells. They lost headers to the big man and then Wells caused a whole manner of problems for them on the floor. Wells was his man and scored both goals and o the first he was not close enough and should have shepherded him wide. Both centre backs looked slow and ponderous. At least he tried to come out of defence a few times and showed a bit of fight but maybe too much. He spent a lot of the game haranguing other players such as Maguire and Long. Some suggested he should be captain (agree that Doyle should not be) but he just shouts at others. I never see him encouraging or talking to other defenders about shape etc.

Coady 5/10 – Started the game with a few passes backwards and sideways but then gave it away a number of times in quick succession and then sort of disappeared. The game just passed him by and other than one turn and cross near the end I cannot recall too many positive things he did and we somehow even though we supposedly have more midfield players in this area (3 v 2) we got overrun again in that area. He is so slow to do things and decide where to pass it. He is a long way from being a regular league player for me at the moment and I am unsure what features he has that will really help the side. He can pass it 5 yards back and to the side but not seen him run with the ball, make forward passes, have any shots or win tackles/break up play yet.

Doyle 5/10 – A similar performance to the ones he gave much of last season. The opposition midfield outrun, outworked and outskilled him. The veteran Jones completely outshone him with his simple yet effective play. He gave it away quite a bit again and played some aimless balls to no one. He also spent a lot of the game arguing with teammates and showed no leadership qualities. As we were getting a good going over in the first half, you wanted him either with his play or verbally to calm things down but he just pointed and shouted. A terrible leader who does nothing to inspire his teammates.

Brandy 5/10 – Started the game lively and had a few decent runs but had no end product. Had a shot that the keeper saved but all too often he hits the deck looking for free kicks. Even I was getting irritated with it. He hobbled off with a hamstring pull and maybe missing for a while. He may not be great but is one of few threats and only one in side with any pace so if he is out, then we are even more predictable to play against.

Murphy 5/10 – Another ordinary to poor performance. He did a bit better this week and at least had a few (weak) shots and did try and get on the ball more. Missed a very good chance early on. Moved around the front areas but not very effective in any role. He got muscled out of it, saw little of the ball and in the second half I cannot recall anything he did. I am still waiting for a good performance from him and he has been at the club since January now. Just looks a nothing sort of player and does not even look the sort that wants to really put a shift in.

McFadzean 4/10 – He was never really in the game and telegraphed a couple of passes that set them on the attack. He began left but then played in the McDonald role but he does not look suited to that. He may be worth trying at left back as the ones we have been playing have been appalling. He cannot do any worse. Not surprised he went off but in reality it could have been any one of 5 or 6. At least he may occasionally run forward at defenders. Something Murphy does not do.

Taylor 5/10 – He tried hard and won a few corners by chasing players down but he. He looks very weak, gets brushed off the ball easily and is not particularly fast. His touch is not great and he does not link with others very well. Granted he had no service again and would like to see him with another player alongside him. However, so far he looks out of his depth and is struggling. Will not write him off yet but cannot see him scoring many goals at all and be surprised if he gets into double figures. To be honest if Weir persists with this formation/approach then Porter is a better option as at least he may hold the ball up a bit and win some headers. With Taylor the ball just keeps coming back (not all his fault as up front on his own). As a comparison, the smaller Wells may score goals but he also works hard, harries defenders and gets into dangerous areas but he has a foil in Hanson who does the dirty work.


Flynn 7/10 – Came on and actually at least got involved a bit and helped us slightly improve. He had our only effort on goal in the second half but that was deflected as keeper tipped over. He was busy, showed some heart and looked like he cared which was more than most. Did his usual thing of coming inside onto his right foot time after time (played on left) but his crosses were mostly awful. One at the end he just ran down and hit an aimless cross without even looking up summed up our abject attacking play.

Ironside – Brought on Brandy and played up front but he barely touched the ball. Won a few free kicks but in general play I can hardly recall him being involved. He tries hard but another player that lacks any stand out quality and is quite weak and very slow. Add to that he never looks like he is going to score in a million years and you are concerned. He had a chance with a ball that came in and he was right in front of goal but on the volley he put it into the upper tier. It was the finish of a Sunday league player.

Porter – Came on way too late and it was hard for him to have much of an impact. No crosses came in and like the rest got no decent balls to him or into the box.

Weir rating 3/10 – He put out the same team as last week after a poor performance but once again the formation, tactics and personnel did not really work. He made changes and Flynn was at least involved in things but Ironside did not work. He really needed to bring Porter on or/and at least go two up front but it seemed he carried on with one up top really as Taylor kind of went wide left. For the last 5-10 minutes he actually went more attacking and we had 3 at the back as Porter did come on but it was too late.

I admire him for persisting with the way he wants to play although not really sure the players know or are anywhere near close to taking his ideas on board as we move between messing around with it and losing it to just lumping it anywhere. I think even the players have stopped doing what he wants as they know they cannot do it and the centre backs are almost inviting pressure on themselves by having to play such a way as they are not good enough and those in front aren’t either. He keeps saying we are a work in progress and of course he is right but I do not see many improvements in what we are trying to do. As I say I think he could be flogging a dead horse trying to get some of these players playing like he wants but then to be fair to him I do not see how if he changes formations, personnel or anything that it will improve. The simple reality is that the players at the club are not good enough. At least we know now promotion is very, very unlikely (does anyone actually think we will be up there- serious question). If we finish mid table or even just below then so be it but as long as we see improvements. If in 2 months time we are still looking the same then I will really panic I suppose as my fear of a relegation fight may come true.

Officials – Referee: Chris Foy. Not one of United’s favourite referees but he was fine. United barely put a tackle in all game and the game was easy to referee really. I cannot recall being particularly angry with him or his assistants all game (they missed 2 or 3 blatant foul throws from us – that Murphy one!) and most decisions were fair enough. He let Hanson and Maguire grapple all game and tried to just play on. In the midfield I felt Doyle (for them) and Jones were physical but fair. They bullied us a bit but I can’t recall many clear fouls we should have got. Thought we were lucky to get away without conceding a penalty. McMahon seemed to handle fairly blatantly in the first half and then in the second we seemed to upend one of their players in the second (McGinty?). I was surprised Foy did not give either. They were strong appeals.

Crowd/Atmosphere/Day out – Like most United away days, a good day out ruined by the football. We got into Leeds

The Stadium is of course bizarre with two (or rather one as it goes right round two side) huge stands and then a smaller one on the opposite touchline (where around 500 Blades sat to one side) with the two tiered lego type stand most Blades were in. We sat in the lower tier. The away allocation seemed to be full/sold out. The view was quite poor with girders and stanchions everwhere and the seats were all a bit all over due to the pillars etc. The toilets were tiny and could only fit those ‘doing their business in’ and one behind each. Wisely I went just before half time. The Bradford fans were noisier than they had been when I had been on other visits but then the crowd was considerably more (18,000 – which was better than both of our home games which made the guffawing from Blades fans near me odd when they laughed at the crowd announcement?). They did not have many songs; the ‘take me home’ (Man Utd song) seemed to be a favourite but the Kop did make a decent noise and after United fans had tried early on, the miserable performance kind of took out any energy and most of the game the away end was quiet. The most noise I heard from Blades fans was pre game when from a pub near the ground the police escorted them round to the stadium.

As for the rest of the day. Went into Leeds, had a really nice breakfast in the new Trinity shopping centre, had a few beers on Park Row (Nation of Shopkeepers etc) and then headed into Bradford around 1.30pm ish. We then had a beer in the Wetherspoons near the fountains by the square before heading to a lovely little bar called Dime Bar on the way to the ground. Post game we went back there and to another called the Sparrow. Both were less than roomy and warm but enjoyable. We had a curry at Omar Khan’s which was alright but not as good as I expected (suppose your expectations of having a great curry in Bradford won’t always happen). We then went back into Leeds and had a few more beers, some cans on the train and back into Sheffield for a night cap. Not going to Rotherham (I work there every day and went last year for the friendly and thus decided to go today instead and am going to Carlisle for some insane reason). 3 consecutive away games would have been too much although cost wise Rotherham would have been cheapest but not a proper away day so gave my tickets to someone else.