We’re back. The new season is here and with it a much changed Bradford City.
Peter Jackson’s confirmation in the Valley Parade hotseat has seen a close season of comings and goings that mean the first XI of the 2011/12 season will contain more than a smattering of new faces.
Every year the preview for the opening game of the season sounds the same – new faces, new hopes, new expectations. Hopefully this year we won’t be witness to history repeating itself as that early hope gives way to tired and stale disappointment.
As ever the signs are positive. The mood around the club, so deflated under Peter Taylor’s regime, has lightened with the presence of a young, hungry, tweeting squad whose infectious excitement at the start of the new year can’t help but rub off on the fans. And alongside it there is the wisdom and sagacity of Jackson’s captain Guy Branston:
Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, the captain has been talking about his expectations on the players, and those of us sitting in the stands.
Quite rightly he doesn’t expect to take any nonsense from his players: ‘if I see anyone slacking I`ll be on them, same as the gaffer will be on them and the fans will be on them.’
But this isn’t just abuse for the sake of abuse, we know we have a duty to support and Branston wants us to think twice before berating a player for a missed pass. He went on to say ‘you can never knock a footballer for giving the ball away if he tried the right ball and that`s the mentality we`re trying to kick out of the game – hammering players for the sake of it.’
It’s a shame I won’t be at VP tomorrow to practice what I’m preaching but I hope that we can start the season in the right attitude. It certainly looks like the players will.
Bradford City Team News:
Peter Jackson’s plans have not been helped by a series of injuries in the build up to the season meaning there are possibly more loanees than some of us would have liked to see as the season kicks off.
Jon McLaughlin has been a spectator for much of pre-season with Jacko signing Martin Hansen on loan from Liverpool to provide competition. He has impressed between the sticks and it looks likely he will start and hopefully set us on our way with a clean sheet tomorrow.
In front of him Simon Ramsden has been ruled out of the game perhaps meaning an early introduction for new acquisition (on a one-month loan) Liam Moore of Leicester City. It could give Lewis Hunt and Robbie Threlfall a chance of staking a claim for the right back position whilst one of the new faces from Falkirk, Chris Mitchell, is also in contention.
At the heart of defence captain Guy Branston will most likely partner Steve Williams although don’t be surprised if Luke Oliver gets the nod. Luke O’Brien will surely play at left back.
The midfield selection will depend on what formation Jackson chooses. The 4-3-3 we have played in pre-season seems liable to being overrun meaning a solid 4-4-2 is more likely.
Player of the season David Syers will presumably start in the heart of the midfield but it is easy to forget that a number of new signings have been made including Ritchie Jones formerly of Oldham. Should he be fit then he may partner the rejuvenated Michael Flynn.
Last year was massively disappointing for many reasons, not least the way Flynn looked a shadow of himself. Pre-season has shown what he is capable of and it may mean Jackson favours experience in the middle with a Flynn/Jones pairing.
This writer believes we have been missing wingers and hopes that the arrival of Jack Compton and Nahki Wells as well as the emergence of Dominic Rowe mean we will see some pace down the flanks and some deliveries into the box.
Because if we put th
Player to watch: Guy Branston
It goes without saying that the first game of the season proper is an important one. But for a new captain playing at home in front of the faithful it’s crucial that he gives us confidence with a solid performance but that he also inspires us with his leadership of those around him.
Much will depend on Jackson translating the good humour off the pitch into a winning mentality on it. That responsibility rests on Branston’s shoulders.
Aldershot Town Team News:
In goal Jamie Young is poised to start ahead of another new recruit, former Charlton keeper Ross Worner.
Aldershot last week released captain, and goal-threat, Anthony Charles meaning that full-back Ben Herd is likely to take the armband. Aaron Brown, recently re-signed from Leyton Orient, will probably feature in defence.
In midfield the Shots have a concern over Luke Guttridge who has suffered a medial ligament injury in a pre-season victory over Stoke (their pre-season form has been much better than ours!) But tomorrow’s visitors have plenty of options with their summer transfer activity bringing in a number of midfielders.
Jamie Collins, Anthony Pulis, Graeme Montgomery or Reading loanee Jake Taylor are all possible replacements for Guttridge.
Up front we won’t be the only team with a new striker on display as former York player Michael Rankine looks to open his account.
Player to watch: Michael Rankine
New strikers always want to get off the mark and with a penalty slotted coolly away against Brentford in Aldershot’s last friendly perhaps the stage is set for Rankine to do so at Valley Parade.
Obviously I hope Branston and Williams keep him in check
Match Facts & Stats
Since we were relegated and Aldershot were promoted we’ve enjoyed three home victories against Aldershot. Hopefully we can make that four.
2010/11 Bradford 2 – 1 Aldershot
009/10 Bradford 2 – 1 Aldershot
008/09 Bradford 5 – 0 Aldershot
Mark Heywood takes charge with Richard Clark and Peter Gooch on the wings. The fourth official is Tony Harrington.
Heywood has previously taken charge of no games involving Bradford City. However, he has seen Aldershot play, and win, away from home. That match came in the 2009/10 season with a 2-1 victory at Cheltenham.
Carling Cup 1st Round
Leeds United vs Bradford City
Elland Road, Tuesday 9th August, 1945.