Can we actually win this league? Can we dominate?

It never crossed my mind until I read a tweet the other day from a random guy (Ben West)...

tweet winn league.JPG

It was an innocuous tweet and very innocent but something this random guy, who isn't a City fan for the record, took time to write and think about. I don't think it was a flippant remark and his response was to this stat:

stats.JPG

And therein lies the rub. Compared to last season we are banging them in and turning those men behind ball draws to out of the blocks from the off wins!

A quick look at the bookies tells a similar story - Paddy Power are giving us a strong 21/10 to win the league with Charlie Wyke being 16/1 top goal scorer. Also as a caveat to this, they actually have a free £20 bet via the link above, random I know - but I've just lumped a tenner on each of those outcomes. Worth spending nothing IMO.

Will they both come in, will we get the holy grail of a Championship trophy and a top goal scorer a'la Sheffield United and Billy Sharp? As it stands I'm quietly confident, key word there being 'quietly'. I won't go head-on into the Twittersphere with my confidence but instead, keep it under lock and key until the time is right. 

Back in July we speculated about promotion - see HERE and the bloomin' Guardian also called it over the summer - HERE 

Not everyone was or is disillusioned to our chances of promotion but to sing it from the roof top is something we shouldn't be doing.

Why though? Becuase we're Bradford City, we have never done a Sheffield United and we tend to do things the harder way. The Bradford way. Why win the league when you can scrape over the line into a play-off final. But as it stands the ingredients for the success are there; Wyke is on form, we're scoring goals from all areas of the pitch and McCall has his tactics bob-on. Injuries aside we have the squad to take us up, all we need now is for others to notice our threat and use it to our advantage. Going back to the original tweet above you can see people view us as a good side but they aren't scared of us, we need to strike fear into the opponents and literally bulldozer teams out of the way. It's the only way we'll win this league, playing good football and scoring loads of first half goals counts for nothing unless we show our dominance every single game.

**At the time of writing the above we hadn't yet travelled to Bury. But all I think that display did was inherintely cement the ideas of above. Without the fire in our belly and the ability to dominate with every chance we get - we won't be winning anything quickly.

Tom Fletcher

Clever Charlie Wyke.

by Tom Fletcher

Charlie Wyke finishing off 3 sublime crosses on Saturday with 3 sublime goals really does start to put our season in perspective. Not only does it mean the odds for us to win this league have been shortened it also means we have found a way to categorically score goals. People will point fingers at Bristol's defence but if you look carefully at all Wyke's goals, he was clever, VERY clever. He doesn't just aimlessly wander into the box and hope for the best, he's physical, tactical and most of all wants it more than the other guy. 

Let's have a look at those 3 goals. The first one was from a corner, flicked on by Vincelot and unorthodoxly volleyed home by Wyke. It's not luck that he happened to be there, if you watch his first run it's a lot more towards the near post but when he realises he isn't going to be near the initial cross he checks his run and waits to see where it lands; in this instance, the back post to be prodded home. 

His second goal is classic Charlie Wyke from last season, dedication and a desire to get to the ball before anyone else. The corner comes in (and with some help from NKP) and Wyke is there like a steam train to head the ball down into the ground. A chance that a lot of players would have squandered under the pressure of a seemingly easy header.

The third goal though is the icing on the cake for me and totally sums up how this style will work for us. The ball is lofted into the box by Reeves and this gives Charlie a chance to think about what he's going to do. Instead of waiting for the ball to land he cleverly nudges the defender out of the way which gives him the space to jump and offer up an incredibly brave header into the top corner. The thought of cracking his skull on the post doesn't even cross his mind. 

If we can get the ball into the box and most importantly Wyke stays in that box he will finish the chances. I can safely say I haven't had this type of confidence in a striker in this way since Lee Mills. Wells, Hanson and Peter Thorne were all different. They scored different goals (even Hanson yes) and what Wyke is going to bring this season is something we haven't had for a long time, a Bobby Campbell-esque type player. 

P.S. I am not saying he is anywhere near Bobby Campbell.

The Agonising Build Up To Wembley

“Stop looking at Simon Parker’s twitter feed.”

“I’m talking to you!”

“Stop humming that infernal ‘On Our Way’ tune!”

It’s been one of those weeks hasn’t it? You’ve been distracted and slightly in your own world. It’s dragged on endlessly. Slowly but surely those little butterflies in your tummy have started to flutter more and more. In fact, as Saturday approaches, those butterflies seem to be morphing into large angry raptors.

I can’t pretend that the next couple of days are going to be any easier, so here’s a little look back at what I expect we’ve all said, felt and experienced this week. Hopefully sharing it will make us all feel a little bit better…

1.       How’s it still XX days to go?

Saturday 20th May is taking forever to come around isn’t it? It’s moving at roughly the speed of Robert Molenaar on the turn. Every single day takes forever and every single day you remark to your friends that it’s taking AGES TO COME AROUND!

You’re not wrong. It is. But it’s not taking as long as the second half will if we’re defending a slender lead, that’s for sure…

2.       Bzzzzz…

What’s App has been going mad. Your Bradford City group has been alive with banter. The optimist, the pessimist, the guy who just wants to get smashed in The Green Man. The chap buying all available Wembley merchandise. The poor person responsible for arranging train times who has to keep reminding everyone that it’s 07.30 at Leeds Station, not 08.30. Everyone is chirping up. It’s hard to keep up.

 3.       The moment of invincibility

There’s no way City can get to a Playoff final and not win. A little rush of excitement takes hold. We’re gonna do it! Come on! What a journey home it will be. Oh my giddy aunt.

4.       What about those big bad Millwall fans?

The Daily Mail says we’re terrified and are quivering under our beds instead of visiting Wembley. How do we get out of the ground without being beaten to a pulp by a snarling lookalike of Brick Top from Snatch?

OK perhaps not that far, but here’s to a trouble free day.

5.       You’re a world expert on the intricacies of the London Underground network

Hammersmith & City or Circle Line from King’s Cross westbound to either Baker Street or Paddington. From either station, take the Bakerloo Line north to Wembley Central which is in Zone 4. Easy.

 6.       Becoming obsessed with how many tickets City have sold

Who has sold more? Why haven’t we sold 30k? Why isn’t everyone in Bradford going? Why won’t the club release hourly updates? It doesn’t matter. It’s those who are there who count.

7.       The moment of vulnerability

Millwall are good. Steve Morison and Lee Gregory are good. They beat us in the Playoffs last season. Oh god, I feel sick. What a journey home it will be.

8.       Please Mr Postman

A pile of mail. A bill. A takeaway menu. Something addressed to the previous owner. Some junk from O2. Grumble loudly. Ah, at last, your Wembley tickets.

And then, for many; Phone out, snap them, post to Twitter.

9.       Michael Fish, eat your heart out

The weather for Saturday at Wembley is about 16C with sunny intervals. There have been some indications that there is a risk of thundery showers. Visibility is good and humidity is about 54% but you knew that already didn’t you? The Met Office website has surely seen a surge in traffic from Bradford.

10.   Penalty dread

Having watched Town beat Wednesday on penalties, there is simply no way you can physically bear the agony of watching penalties on Saturday. You’ll be sat on the concourse if they happen, or even better, you’ll be curled up in a dark isolated cupboard with your fingers in your ears.

11.   Now you decide to support us…

You know the one. That friend on Facebook whose posts are normally a stream of narcissistic drivel about their children. Suddenly, they’re all ‘Come on City’ and ‘Can’t Wait to Get to Wembley’.

You draft a snarky response but then you leave it. You do right to as well, the more the merrier after all hey? Just block them when they return to posting endless pictures of the kids.

12.   4-4-2, Three Centre Backs, Clarke in the hole?

Lying in bed at night, driving to work, or perhaps even on conference calls at work, you’ve drifted off into a world of tactics. Do we stick an extra centre back in so that we can outnumber their front two. Do we let Clarke exploit the space in behind the front two? What about Marshall and Gillead on either flank? Will Jones start?

Give it up. There’s nothing you can do. Stuart will decide and when he does, we have to believe in his decision.

13.   You’re Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter

Everything is a sign. Like the above professor in the Potter books, you’re interpreting everything. The radio plays John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads; we’ve got it won. Iron Lion Zion comes on; you burst into tears. Anything claret, amber or remotely resembling either colour means *something*.

You’re suddenly massively superstitious too – your City top has to be washed in plenty of time, and you’re frantically trying to remember what underwear and socks you wore to the Fleetwood game.

 14.   Pure exhilaration

What a season it’s been. Back to Wembley again. Stuart McCall you little beauty.

Just imagine the pride if we win. Like you say, what a journey home it will be.

(Does a little giddy squeal and shake, and then gets all nervous again)

And breathe.

@jpieslak