UNFAIR THAT WE GOT THE EXTRA MILE SAYS ROSLER
UWE Rosler has criticised the play-off schedule ahead of today’s crunch secondleg at Highbury, claiming it favours opponents Bradford City.
Fleetwood finished the regular season fourth in League One, three points ahead of Stuart McCall’s Bantams.
Traditionally, the higherplaced team is granted an advantage by playing the second leg at home – with stats proving that sides finishing in the top two spots are 20 per cent more likely to secure promotion.
However, Rosler says the quick turnaround and added mileage (Fleetwood made a return journey to Valley Parade while Bradford will only travel in one direction before the second leg kicks off) is unfair on his players.
“My understanding is that the third and fourth place teams should have an advantage in the play-offs,” said the German, whose side trail 1-0 from the first leg.
“But that is not the case. The advantage is with Millwall and Bradford because they have to travel only once. Ourselves and Scunthorpe have to travel twice. Is that fair? For us, it is a big disadvantage, especially when you play twice in three days.
“What should they do? I don’t know. But, for a team that finished lower than you over 46 games to have an advantage like this, it can’t be. It is non-football people making football decisions, unfortunately.”
Travel sick or not, today is about more than a shot at promotion to the Champi- onship for Fleetwood. It may be a chance to change their manager’s mind.
It is an open secret that Rosler has been courted by Norwich City.
Stuart Webber, the Canaries’ new sporting direcstory tor, is a long-time admirer of the German’s work and lobbied for his appointment at Huddersfield before David Wagner got the job.
Publicly, all links have been dismissed. Last month, Rosler angrily described the as “fake news” and denied any approach had been made.
But the story refuses to go away and the Canaries’ failure to replace caretaker Alan Irvine amounts to a deafening silence. It is widely believed a gentleman’s agreement, much like QPR’s pursuit of Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, is in place.
Could promotion stay Rosler’s hand? Maybe not, but it would be a fine parting gift to the Highbury faithful,
who have already seen five promotions in the last decade. For a shot at a sixth, the Cod Army will need to become the first side since Yeovil in 2013 to overcome a first-leg deficit.
“I don’t look at past stats,” insisted keeper Alex Cairns. “I look at us and I think we’ve got more than enough ability in the team, as we’ve proven time and again this year. Our ability to bounce back is unbelievable.”
Leading through Rory McArdle’s first-leg header, Bradford know an early goal would force Fleetwood to cut loose, potentially exposing them on the break.
But skipper Romain Vincelot, part of the Bantams side defeated by Millwall at this stage last year, has ruled out a gung-ho approach.
“It’s a 0-0 situation, like normal” said the French midfielder. “If we can put a lot of pressure on them we will do it, but we won’t go crazy. We won’t go kamikaze in attack and we won’t sit back to defend one goal for 90 minutes. We just need to play the same way. There are a lot of players who missed out last year and we all have this little thing in our bellies that we want to improve and go one better.
“Over the last four or five years, you can see the club is going in the right direction.
“We are building something here and this is another step. Hopefully, we can complete it.”
HERO: Rory McArdle celebrates
CRITICAL: Uwe Rosler has hit out at the play-off schedule ADVANTAGE BANTAMS: Bradford’s Rory McArdle scores the only goal of the first leg