It’s two months into the season, the Bantams have made a good start to proceedings having taken 15 points from a possible 24 to find themselves three points off the top of the table and, at times, playing very well.
However, it’s October, the month that in the last few years has laid claim to being the graveyard of ambitions.
Two defeats in a row has laid the framework for nervousness and despite the best start to a season since 1995 (a statistic that would still be true even if we picked up no points tomorrow) questions are being asked of players and management.
True Stuart McCall did himself little good in the eyes of the fans by supposedly aiming for damage limitation at Shrewsbury. But the 4-3-3/4-5-1 deployed was scuppered before things really began with injury to TJ Moncur causing a reshuffle that tore the heart out of midfield and changed the whole team dynamic.
Of course managers must prepare their players for any and all eventuality but the Bantams could be forgiven for having their minds elsewhere as they saw their team mate clearly in some distress.
Shrewsbury were good for their win but the events of last week must not be allowed to overshadow the visit of Luton Town to Valley Parade.
The Football League’s bottom club, Luton Town have made a pretty solid start to the season taking 11 points so far. But that only translates to bringing them to -19, still a whopping 17 points away from safety.
But as a deficit of 3 points at the top of the table so early in the season is nothing whilst there are 114 points to play for even the almost-certainly-doomed have a chance to turn things around.
In their last two away games the Hatters have lost. First to Macclesfield during their purple patch and then to Rotherham, who continue to impress. Until the Bournemouth failure the Bantams had been in incredible form at Valley Parade, threatening to banish the home fixture blues.
The last two results have been disappointing but the season shouldn’t be over by October. Hopefully Saturday’s performance will suggest that this year it won’t be.
Paul McLaren, a former Luton player ‘this season is such a big ask for them, although they`ve started all right. They cannot afford to have a blip in form or it will become really tough. If a few suspensions or injuries kick in, then they could struggle.’
Stuart McCall on tightening up a leaky side ‘we`ve got to tighten up; not just the defence but the team in general. Look at the other teams up there – Wycombe have only conceded two, Brentford three and Shrewsbury four. We have got to be more resolute.’
Lewis Emanuel on the ridiculous few at Valley Parade ‘I don`t know what reception I`ll get. When I was at Brentford and played against them I got booed a bit, which I didn`t expect. We need the three points and hopefully we`ll get them there but it will be a tough game because they`ve got a good crowd and have started well.’
Mick Harford, Luton gaffer ‘the Chester game on Saturday was a disappointing result but I will take the positives from it. I think we dominated the game. Whoever you play you are going to come under some pressure and we were undone by one set-piece. We will go there nice and positive and hopefully get three points.’
Bradford City Team News:
Stuart McCall welcomes back Peter Thorne (probably with some sort of huge party) as the suddenly misfiring Bantams look to their talisman to get them back to winning ways after his back injury.
Out will go Barry Conlon, relegated to the bench where he should be joined by Billy Topp whilst Michael Boulding will be restored to the starting line up.
In midfield, Lee Bullock’s injury means a second start of the season for Dean Furman alongside Paul McLaren whilst Omar Daley and Joe Colbeck will take up their positions on the wings.
In defence Graeme Lee, Matt Clarke and Rhys Evans pick themselves whilst Paul Heckingbottom will either play on the left or the right. Depending on that call Simon Ainge (right) or Luke O’Brien (left) will get the nod.
Player to watch: Dean Furman
It’s a big game for the Rangers lad to come into the midfield and help the Bantams to keep things tight and high tempoed from the beginning.
However, he’s impressed pretty much everyone (perhaps Kyle Nix apart) since he’s been at Valley Parade and looks set to be named Vital Man of the Match for last week. Top quality players don’t tend to give up their place in the side easily so Bully may have a big ask on his hand to displace him…
Luton Town Team News:
Last week against Chester the average age of the Luton side was 21 but that looks set to increase as some of the older and wiser heads return from injury.
Sam Parkin and Kevin Nicholls will both be involved after shaking off injuries and they have the potential to be highly influential for the visitors. The threat of Don Hutchinson is also one we should be wary of and hopefully there will be no stars in the eyes of the Bantams as perhaps there was with Darren Anderton.
Making a birthday return to the club for whom he made 150 appearances is Lewis Emanuel. It’s incredible to think that tomorrow he will only be 25 as he is a player who began his career at Valley Parade as a trainee in 2000. Despite regular rumours of his return it’s never happened and instead Lewis has sunk with the club he joined when they were in the Championship. Happy Birthday Lewis, but I hope you don’t get to enjoy it too much…
Player to watch: Sam Parkin
Three goals so far this season from the former Chelsea player and his no-nonsense striking style might be well suited to a Bantams defence low on confidence and a referee high in ineptitude.
Match Facts & Stats
We once played Luton and lost 4-0. At the final whistle the match official taunted a certain Mr Windass. Deano responded in his gruff northern way and found himself, after the final whistle, shown the red card. Joe Ross has now retired but in Graham Laws and Jarnail Singh he has found worthy successors
Accrington at the Fraser Eagle Stadium October 11th. Will we outnumber them again this year?