Inexperienced Aston Villa defence holds key to Bantams victory, says Stuart McCall

PRAYING FOR A BRADFORD WIN: Former Bantams boss Stuart McCall is hoping City’s attack can once again  exploit Villa’s biggest weakness: their defence

PRAYING FOR A BRADFORD WIN: Former Bantams boss Stuart McCall is hoping City’s attack can once again exploit Villa’s biggest weakness: their defence

First published in Bantams Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford City Reporter

They were the team everyone wanted; the gimme; the free pass straight to Wembley.

Aston Villa have even guaranteed a seat at the Capital One Cup final with every half-season ticket sold.

Only Bradford City, the supposed patsies in the last four, did not read the script. Suddenly there genuinely are four contenders for those two elusive spots in the competition’s February 24 showpiece.

Stuart McCall is convinced Villa would have jumped for joy when they avoided the other Premier League survivors and were paired with the Bantams.

They may not be feeling quite so giddy going into the home leg and trailing 3-1.

McCall said: “Whoever got Bradford City in the semi-final draw would have been telling their family and friends ‘we’re at Wembley’. That’s natural.

“I’m not sure Aston Villa are thinking that at the moment.

“I’d hoped City would get Villa beforehand as well but only because of their inexperience.

“Watching the start of the first leg and seeing Villa’s front four, I feared it could be a long night if they got the first goal. But behind them you’ve got two very young central midfielders and four young ones at the back.

“Villa’s weakness is defending. Big James (Hanson) and Nahki Wells were a big threat along with the wide boys all night at Valley Parade and can be again.

“As much as Villa could have scored more at Valley Parade, so could City. TV were saying Villa this, Villa that but there was Nahki’s breakaway and two headers from James that could have gone in as well.”

McCall makes no attempt to hide his excitement about City’s giant-killing prowess. He also believed Phil Parkinson got his tactics spot on in the first leg.

He is wondering now how the Bantams boss will approach the more wide open spaces of Villa Park.

“Being on a tighter pitch, it’s slightly easier to defend. Villa Park is quite wide and it will be interesting to see what Phil does.

“It’s going to be a really fine balancing act between having enough to create problems because you know where Villa are weak but also being sound and strong defensively.

“I’m normally more optimistic and attack-minded but you’ve got to be wary of the talent Villa have got in the final third. Going away for 90 minutes and not conceding two goals will be tough so City must use the pace in their team and the counter-attack aspect.

“The expectation will still be on Villa but Bradford can look at two things: the inexperience of the home side and the knowledge that they can create opportunities against them.

“Villa will naturally get chances with the quality of players they’ve got. But Bradford also have good ones in their ranks, as we’ve already seen.

“The first goal will be huge. If Bradford were to get it, that would create unbelievable pressure.

“When Villa got back to 2-1 at Valley Parade, it was like putting a pin in a cushion but then came that great header from (Carl) McHugh.

“That evened things out and there’s a belief with everyone now that City can go through, especially with 6,500 away fans making themselves heard down there.”

McCall has experienced his own personal highs and lows at Villa Park.

He was in that City side beaten by Villa in a promotion showdown on May Day 1988, letting David Platt slip away to bury the decisive header.

But Villa Park was also where McCall played an instrumental role when Scotland beat Switzerland in Euro ’96.

“And there was the Simod Cup game in the same season that Villa beat us in the league. We smashed them 5-0 and I ran the show!”

Villa Park on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 could now become a red-letter day for the club that he will always be tied to. Motherwell boss McCall imagines Parkinson must be pinching himself at the prospect.

“I listened to Phil before the game and he was saying the same things I did when we played Panathinaikos in the Champions’ League at the start of the season.

“It was a case of just trying to get a draw at least to take the tie into the second leg. You want to keep it alive.

“I’m sure Phil never imagined in his wildest dreams Bradford would go there with a two-goal lead.

“Would you rather go to Wembley or get promoted?

“At the beginning of every season, it’s all about City finishing top three and that is still the aim.

“Now with the confidence and belief in the squad from the run in the cup, allied with the readies that has brought in, the opportunity is really there.

“It’s been a heck of a 12 years since the club dropped out of the Premier League. It’s great we’ve finally got something good to enjoy.”

Comments (3)

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5:16pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Prisoner Cell Block A says...

Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season.

Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline.
Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season. Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline. Prisoner Cell Block A
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Rambo says...

Prisoner Cell Block A wrote:
Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season.

Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline.
For the first time we need to employ some tactics visiting teams to VP often employ - anti-football and spoiling. They will go all-out to batter us from the start. Anything to slow the game down, frustrate the AV players fans (so maybe they might turn on their own players like they did at VP).

442, same as before but with a bit more emphasis on defending and keeping the ball. Looking at the same starting 11, if all fit. Some people are suggesting Nelson but unless PP sees something we don't this isn't the game to be bringing a new CB into, unless McHugh is struggling against Benteke.

Look to attack on the counter with pace as it caused trouble last time. But holding the ball and slowing the game down will be crucial.
[quote][p][bold]Prisoner Cell Block A[/bold] wrote: Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season. Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline.[/p][/quote]For the first time we need to employ some tactics visiting teams to VP often employ - anti-football and spoiling. They will go all-out to batter us from the start. Anything to slow the game down, frustrate the AV players fans (so maybe they might turn on their own players like they did at VP). 442, same as before but with a bit more emphasis on defending and keeping the ball. Looking at the same starting 11, if all fit. Some people are suggesting Nelson but unless PP sees something we don't this isn't the game to be bringing a new CB into, unless McHugh is struggling against Benteke. Look to attack on the counter with pace as it caused trouble last time. But holding the ball and slowing the game down will be crucial. Rambo
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Mon 21 Jan 13

KnightMcCall says...

Rambo wrote:
Prisoner Cell Block A wrote:
Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season.

Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline.
For the first time we need to employ some tactics visiting teams to VP often employ - anti-football and spoiling. They will go all-out to batter us from the start. Anything to slow the game down, frustrate the AV players fans (so maybe they might turn on their own players like they did at VP).

442, same as before but with a bit more emphasis on defending and keeping the ball. Looking at the same starting 11, if all fit. Some people are suggesting Nelson but unless PP sees something we don't this isn't the game to be bringing a new CB into, unless McHugh is struggling against Benteke.

Look to attack on the counter with pace as it caused trouble last time. But holding the ball and slowing the game down will be crucial.
Im turning to God. Prayer might work just as well as 4-4-2.
[quote][p][bold]Rambo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Prisoner Cell Block A[/bold] wrote: Percentage game going forwards, hammer it to JH and try pick up pieces, earn corners and free kicks, their defending of set pieces has been woeful all season. Remember how quickly they broke on us so don't over commit going forwards, let the two up top plus one supporting from midfield do the dogs work across their backline.[/p][/quote]For the first time we need to employ some tactics visiting teams to VP often employ - anti-football and spoiling. They will go all-out to batter us from the start. Anything to slow the game down, frustrate the AV players fans (so maybe they might turn on their own players like they did at VP). 442, same as before but with a bit more emphasis on defending and keeping the ball. Looking at the same starting 11, if all fit. Some people are suggesting Nelson but unless PP sees something we don't this isn't the game to be bringing a new CB into, unless McHugh is struggling against Benteke. Look to attack on the counter with pace as it caused trouble last time. But holding the ball and slowing the game down will be crucial.[/p][/quote]Im turning to God. Prayer might work just as well as 4-4-2. KnightMcCall
  • Score: 0

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