Date: 1st October 2017 at 10:13pm
Written by:

Regular readers will already know I hold Phil Parkinson in very high esteem and see him as possibly our best manager of all time, and regards Stuart McCall many readers will know my perception of him as a manager has vastly changed over the past 12 months and is proving a bit of a very useful tactician whom has proved many wrong in his 2nd tenure, myself included.

But what if, in some fantasy dimension, Bradford City’s 2 most recent managers went head to head with their Bradford City teams, who would come out victorious? Parkinson without question has achieved a hell of a lot more than McCall and worked wonders, in his time he got to a cup final at Wembley and 2 play offs, the first of which ended in promotion. Not forgetting he had a good FA Cup run and in total beat 25% of the Premier league including Champions Chelsea in their own back yard. McCall has worked off the back of Parkinson’s success but went 1 step further than his predecessor in the league taking City to the League 1 play off final. I will still say McCall isn’t a cup manager in the English game, never has been, not even in his first spell as manager, but he has definitely matured and developed and I believe he can take the Bantams a bit further than Parkinson did. Football is all ifs and buts and some can argue we would have gone up last season with Parkinson in charge, but would we be in the position as Bolton are now?

So rather than looking at club or personal success because that honour will only go one way, let’s take a look at the teams both McCall and Parkinson have assembled, and the players they have signed. I won’t include loan players (unless they went on to sign for City), and irrespective which manager a certain player performed better for, I’m just interested in which of the 2 managers have signed them, and I’m not going to include McCall’s first spell. Is it a bit unfair as Parkinson was manager for 5 seasons and McCall is in only his 2nd? To balance things out a bit, McCall has had a bit more funds to play with and his entire time spent is in the 3rd tier unlike Parkinson who took over a very poor squad with a losing mentality in the 4th tier scrounging for Bosmans. One thing this may highlight is the reliance on loan players some managers like to use or part of the team a manager likes to concentrate on and struggles with other areas.

So here goes………Parkinson’s 11 takes on McCall’s 11.

Phil Parkinson’s best team – possibly

Goal Keeper
Matt Duke
James Meredith, Rory McArdle, Andrew Davies, Tony McMahon
Mark Marshall, Gary Jones, Andy Halliday, Garry Thompson
Aaron McLean, Steve Davies

Stuart McCall’s best team – possibly

Goal Keeper
Colin Doyle
Adam Chicksen, Matt Kilgallon, Nat Knight-Percival, Romain Vincelot
Jake Reeves, Nicky Law, Timothy Dieng
Charlie Wyke, Dominic Poleon, Alex Jones

Phil Parkinson’s team would definitely boss the midfield about and with a strong defence would definitely prove frustrating for McCall’s men. Parkinson’s Bantams are more experienced and would have more commanding presence especially in the captain Gary Jones. Bit of pace on the wings in Thompson and Marshall there will be plenty of supply for the strikers, this is where the weakness lies, McLean is a work horse and will run into the ground but as a City player McLean wasn’t exactly known for his finishing, same with Steve Davies, again great work ethic, but just couldn’t score, and in 5 years are probably the best 2 strikers Parkinson signed. This team would defend very resolutely as they did against players like Benteke, Drogba and Gervinho, get some crosses in and boss the game without conceding many, but to score? Marshall may have played better under McCall, but he was a Parkinson signing and will prove a thorn on the left. If you miss with the fist, the elbow then comes in, and this team has 2 elbows in Marshall and Thompson.

Stuart McCall has a strong enough keeper just as Parkinson’s team, but his defence although strong, doesn’t have as much presence as the opposition. Without a recognised right back, I’ve had to move a central defender into that position and they would have to defend against last season’s player of the season Mark Marshall. Midfield is weak and could only find 3 adequate central midfielders so forced to play a 4-3-3 who I would have captained by Nicky Law which brings me onto the forwards. This is where McCall’s team excel, 3 forwards that can score, and score they do, with an attack minded game, when this team have the ball and get it forward, any defence will have to earn their bread. But to go up against Davies and McArdle and with McMahon and Meredith at the backs, coming in down the wings will prove difficult too.

Boz’s match verdict: Parkinson 1-0 McCall
I would have to say it will be a very very tight affair, 1 team very defensively strong with height, strong in the middle of the field with pace out wide but very weak upfront. The other team very strong and pacey upfront, a defence that is prone to leak goals without a specialist right back, and a much weakened midfield. More chances will be created for Parkinson’s 11 but most of the chances will be wasted or easily “passed” to Doyle who won’t have too much difficulty keeping his team in the game. Poleon and Wyke in particular will try and create space, but with a lack of crosses coming in, the aerial threat will be minimal especially against Davies and McArdle so would be hard to see McCall’s team creating many chances as they will struggle to play it in the middle of the park and I can see going for the long ball option at times out of frustration. Pace upfront will be their strongest asset, but with a very strong back four for Parkinson protecting Matt Duke, McCall’s team will be running into a very solid big wall. Poleon and Wyke will get in some quality shots that at least 1 would go in in most games, but Duke will pull off the odd wonder save to keep his clean sheet intact. It could easily be a 0-0 bore draw with no major incidences, but a couple of yellows will be dished out to McMahon, Chicksen and Vincelot. The winning goal would come from a Rory McArdle header crossed in from a Tony McMahon corner on 54 minutes, just edging it.

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