Behind Enemy Lines: The Width of a Post 2nd Leg Villa Park Interview
Following on from our initial interview with the excellent Bradford City supporters site The Width of a Post where we got to know our semi-final final opponents, we catch up again with them to get their thoughts on defending their 3-1 lead at Villa Park. Thanks to Jason McKeown for the answers and all the best for Bradford City’s promotion push this season. You can read our views on the game on their site here.
I know Villa’s form has been bad, but Bradford’s first leg win was their only win in 2013 and in their last six matches. In fact, you’ve only won one league game since knocking Arsenal out and slipped to mid-table in Division Two – so how’s the cup vs league debate going with your fans?!
It is, ahem, a heated argument! The key objective for Bradford City this season is to get promotion. At the start of the season, the club pushed the boat out and over-spent the budget by £600k – hoping to recuperate this money over the course of the season through possible income variants, such as cup runs or player sales. The Arsenal game is said to have brought in £300k, covering half the deficit, and then obviously the two-legged semi final covers the rest and then some. But our league form has clearly suffered from playing so many games (we did well in the other two cups too).
Now there are two school of thoughts. One is we should focus on the cup and the huge windfall that getting to Wembley would trigger, and we can have a go at promotion next season. This camp has even mooted resting players for key league matches. The other view is the cup is a distraction that is papering over the cracks of league form, and we should be treating the Villa game as secondary importance. There have been plenty of debates!
I lean towards the first camp. Yes, promotion would be great and we should never take anything like that for granted (we could easily go back to being rubbish next season), but to make the League Cup Final would be a once-in-a-lifetime moment for a club that has, in 110 years of history, only ever won just one major trophy (the FA Cup in 1911). We may never be in this position again.
Yes we made quite a few changes, and there is a question mark over whether we will be fined for doing so (if you make too many changes for a Football League Trophy game you get punished, something that the FA might want to consider if they want to reverse the decline of the FA Cup). We have used the break to rest up James Hanson, for example, who has a broken toe. Gary Jones (our balding midfielder), Nahki Wells and Rory McArdle have also had a breather.
We have made three signings since the first leg, two of who could play on Tuesday night. This includes Michael Nelson from Kilmarnock. Two years ago Nelson was playing under Paul Lambert at Norwich, and scored a vital winner against Charlton in the promotion run-in that helped Norwich cross the line at The Addicks’ expense. And who was the Charlton manager at the time? Phil Parkinson; eyeing revenge on Lambert tomorrow.
When the rumours surfaced that Blackpool had made an approach, we City fans were hugely nervous. As great as it was to receive so much great media attention after the first leg, hearing people rave about Parkinson and Wells leaves you worried we will lose them.
It was a fantastic feeling when it emerged Parkinson had turned down Blackpool. His City contract only runs until the end of this season, and he is reportedly one of the lowest paid managers in the division. We are currently in talks about a new contract. He wants to build on what he has achieved here, so I think we will be able to keep hold of him.
I find it incredible that we are favourites to go through. I mean we are in a fantastic position, but I’m sure you guys fancy your chances of doing what’s needed. I just hope that we go and attack. Although at Wigan in an earlier round we successfully shut up shop, defence is not our strong point and the fact remains you should have been two or three nil up after 20 minutes in the first leg, as you tore us open. Your defence looks vulnerable, and so I think we need to have a go and try to get a goal.
As for our feelings. 99% of City fans I have spoken to say we will still go out. It’s going to be a long night, and you are three divisions above us. We hope, but we are a realistic bunch.
We’re bringing a 6,500 following and I can guarantee you that we will be very loud, no matter how the game is going. I thought Villa’s away following at Valley Parade was outstanding initially. You made such a racket, and I do think we City fans struggled to match you at first. But then when we took the lead your fans went so quiet and you could feel their anger.
A full Villa house will be intimidating and I hope our players can stand up to that kind of pressure. But one thing they can be guaranteed is that we will sing our hearts out non-stop for 90 minutes. We will make our presence known!
Ha ha! Well funnily enough they have just brought a book out. I can’t say that type of thing interests me so I have not bought a copy, but it seems they are going strong even if they’re a lot older (and hopefully wiser!)
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