Richie Barker on the win at Bradford, pre-season and on Shaun Harrad’s departure to Cheltenham Town
‘That was a very good way to end our pre-season; I was extremely pleased with every one of them. Before the game I told them to treat this as a league game and they did. It was a little bit slow at times, purely because the pitch was a little bit dry, which you are going to get at this time of the year, but I thought everyone of them were absolutely fantastic. I think it shows how far we have come in a very short time; having beaten two league two teams that I think will finish in the top half of their league. We’ve won both games and fairly comfortable.
Maybe we have proved that we are at the right level. The two championship sides have beaten us, and we’ve beaten two league two sides. We are where we are because we deserve to be there. Birmingham and Burnley are where they are because they deserve to be there. What we have to do now is make sure that we stay at this level and then start a push for that next level. 18 months ago, most of these players were part of a top eight league two side; it does show how far we have come.
At 3pm, the Bradford game looked a tough game, but we’ve outplayed them. It was a tough game at times. You look at their team and they have brought a lot of experience in. They are a big strong athletic side but at times our quality, particularly from David Worrall and the tree midfielders speaks for themselves – plus Lateef again. I was also really pleased with the defending. Bradford didn’t really have many efforts on goal, which really pleased me more than anything because I know that we can play. I had to know if we could keep clean sheets and defend properly and all the back four, including the two that came on, did excellently well.
It’s given me a problem ahead of next week’s game. I didn’t say it say it to them because I thought I was stating the obvious, but what I wanted to say was that this was your last chance to claim your shirt for the Middlesbrough game. I didn’t have to say it in the end, they did everything that I asked them to do and they really did go out and treat it as a league game. We looked like we knew what they would do, before they know themselves.
We had two good goals. We had nothing to do with the first and he will be probably pleased that he got that out of the way now. A great finish from Lenny and the third from Lateef – he has that in him anyway, he does it regularly in training and I have spoken about Lateef already this summer and I still think that he is going to be a hell of a player. The clever thing for me was the weight of the pass from David Worrall. I was pleased with Lenny because over the last few days we have been working on finishing and aiming for certain areas of the net, and on Saturday he hit one of the areas that we were aiming for. Lenny is one of those players that have come on leaps and bounds. People will argue that his finishing has let him down, but it was an excellent finish on Saturday.
Andy Bishop has had a bit of an issue with his groin over the last week. We sent him to see a specialist on Thursday and he said that four or five days rest should ensure that we will be in training on Monday. He came to me and told me that he wanted some minutes under his belt at Bradford and it’s great that we have to rein him in. People have talked about him over the last few years about building him up a bit and it speaks volumes for me that we now have to rein him in.
We’ve had Jordan Rugg on trial with us after he was released by Wigan. He’s a fantastic young man with an excellent attitude. We haven’t really been able to give him many opportunities, but with Bish not being available, it was a good chance for him to see how he got on. We should have out him on earlier, Lateef wasn’t too happy about coming off, it’s the same with Lenny but in the end I brought one of them off and ran for cover. He will stay with us for a while and hopefully we can keep him. One of the issues we had was finance. If we can get him, he might be one of those that we send out on loan for six months to see how he gets on.
Max Harrop is struggling, it looked quite a nasty challenge and he has a lot of swelling on the ankle all ready. I think he’s going to be a while before he’s back but we will see next week.
Shaun Harrad has gone for the season, we had a conversation during the week where he asked if he was going to be a regular starter and am I going to start the season. Lateef has taken everyone by surprise a little bit and I just said to him that I couldn’t guarantee you would start. He was really disappointed with himself last season and didn’t want to go through that again. I knew that Mark Yates at Cheltenham was a big fan of him so between us that have taken him for the season. To be fair to Shaun, he needed that stability.
From a financial point of view, it allows me to know where I am. It could have been three months and we’d be no further forward, but now we all know where we are. He was one of the high earners and it may allow me to have a look round for either a loan or maybe we look at a younger player – but at least we know where we are with it.”