Two games, two wins and a 100% record for the Bantams. Good start, great start even but our game with Rochdale is one of the first real challenges of our credentials for success this year.
So far we’re breaking even on points earned (we beat both Notts County at VP and Macclesfield away) but in this game last year Adam Le Fondre popped up at the death to break City hearts (although truthfully we deserved little from a game in which we were outplayed).
That game finally killed off any speculation of our reaching the playoffs which we ultimately missed out on by 16 points.
That day highlighted one of Stuart McCall’s difficulties with his squad – the real absence of Stuart McCall from the middle of the park. The centre of midfield was an area that Stuart must have thought well stocked on his arrival at Valley Parade but as the summer’s clearout showed he spent a year getting less and less impressed by what was offered up from the middle of the park.
In David Perkins Rochdale had a mighty midfield general who, paired with Gary Jones, dominated the game. The blonde Perkins is now enjoying bigger and better things in League One…with Colchester and Rochdale have replaced him with Darlington’s Clark Keltie.
Stuart also looked to the North East in bringing Lee Bullock from Hartlepool midway through last year. And then in the summer pulled off the coup of enticing League One’s top goal creator, Paul McLaren down a level. So far McLaren and Bullock have done their jobs and done them well but, in the league, against poor opposition.
Rochdale are not poor opposition, tomorrow promises to have moments of nervousness in the stands, but hopefully that won’t be seen on the pitch and we’ll maintain our momentum into next week’s game at Aldershot and the following week’s tie at Leeds.
From somewhere we have to find at least 16 points more than last year. This is our first opportunity to get ourselves ahead of last season.
Keith Hill, Rochdale manager, obviously belongs to the school of management that praises the opposition before a match to lull them into false sense of security. He said ‘Bradford are worthy favourites to go up, as clubs, we are poles apart with respect to training facilities and resources, but on the football pitch we definitely aren’t.
Over 90 minutes we will be more than competitive. Bradford are a very good team who have started the season extremely well, but so have we.’
And with last week’s 3-1 win still fresh in their minds they also have an unbeaten record to maintain.
His assistant Dave Flitcroft said ‘Bradford City are one of the big-hitters in our league, there is no secret about that.
Their chairmen have assessed what manager Stuart McCall did last season and wanted to kick on by really backing him in the transfer market.
He has been able to get some super players in there and, with what they had last season and what they have recruited, they will be a great test for us.
They are one of the early-season favourites along with Shrewsbury and Chesterfield.’
Whilst Stuart is simply warning everybody not to get carried away he said ‘of course it’s nice to get off to a good start but unless you build on that it means nothing.
ix points from the first two games was the aim and we’ve achieved that. There have been some pleasing things and also things that we can work on.
It’s a much better start than last season and for the confidence side of things it’s good but we don’t get carried away with it.
There is a buzz about the place at the moment and we’re looking forward to Rochdale at home on Saturday but we also know that there is not a lot between the teams.’
Bradford City Team News:
Although Peter Thorne has not trained all week after suffering a dead leg in the win at Macclesfield he will keep his place after maintaining his fitness with non-contact work such as swimming.
However, Chris Brandon has still got a bad ankle and he has been joined on the treatment table by Billy Topp after the Chilean damaged his hamstring playing for the reserves midweek. The South American just can’t catch a break since joining the Bantams and will be out for 2 to 4 weeks!
Player to watch: Omar Daley
That’s what the Bantams will be saying after they see our Jamaican live up to his billing tomorrow afternoon. 3 gold medals and 3 world records has got to be an inspiration. Right?
Omar himself said to the Telegraph & Argus (full interview here) ‘for me, going forward – that`s my aim. I need to get goals and create and going forward takes a lot of energy.
Defending is not a problem for me but you don`t expect me to make a 60-yard run to attack and then make a 30-yard run to defend.
I think I`m doing much better in defence than last season and I`m trying to concentrate and hopefully bring an end product to my game.
Rochdale Team News:
Rochdale have no squad concerns at all and Keith Hill is likely to stick with last week’s Barnet conquerors
Player to watch: Gary Jones
Was so impressive last year.
Also, Adam Le Fondre because he loves scoring against us. Someone please keep him in their pocket!
Match Facts & Stats
Last year we lost both games to Rochdale 2-1.
There’s not much more that you’d want to know surely?
Two away games coming up.
First Aldershot next Saturday.
Then it’s Leeds United, at Elland Road, in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.