Fleetwood Town head to Bradford City tonight with nothing to fear but manager Micky Mellon believes it is “unbelievable” that the bookmakers are backing his side for their first Football League victory tonight.
Mellon’s men head to Valley Parade after a highly creditable display in their League Two opener, a goalless clash with last season’s play-off semi-finalists Torquay, and the manager insists that his squad won’t lack for self-belief but won’t get carried away either.
He told The Gazette: “We’re always quite a confident group and we believe we can beat anybody in this division. We’ve got good players and we get most things right, so I think we’ll cause Bradford a lot of problems.
“But it’s unbelievable that people are tipping us to go there as favourites. It’s a great testament to the lads that other people obviously think we’ve got a good side – but I won’t be listening to the odds. We’ve still got to go there and win a game of football, and do very, very well.”
While Bantams boss Phil Parkinson had few complaints after his side’s 3-1 defeat at Gillingham on the opening day, Mellon’s men can count themsleves unlucky not to have registered their first League goal against the much-fancied Gulls.
They created an abundance of chances and had two penalty appeals turned down, but Mellon took satisfaction from a clean sheet in their first League outing.
He added: “We’ve worked very hard on the defensive side and the players deserve a lot of credit for that.
“We’ll go into the Bradford game the same way, looking to our defenders and the whole team to get the basics right and make it very difficult for the opposition to get any chances against us.”
As for those penalty claims, Mellon reflected: “I’ve looked at the DVD, and I would be disappointed not to have got a free-kicks had those incidents happened anywhere else on the pitch. If it’s a foul and it’s in the box, it should be a penalty kick.
“It’s disappointing but it’s a tough, tough job to be a referee. I’ve been in the game long enough and I respect that.
“I would never call into question the referee’s integrity. He’s not thought it was a penalty and that’s one of those things, so let’s get on with it.”
Damien Johnson made his debut and completed the 90 minutes, despite having his pre-season hindered by an ankle injury, and Mellon was quick to sing the praises of the former Northern Ireland midfielder.
He added: “Damien is a top, top footballer. He’s brought nothing but positives to the football club, both on and off the pitch. I’m delighted to have him here.”
The only League Two club to average a five-figure gate last season, Bradford will most probably be the the division’s best-supported club again, giving the term home advantage added meaning at Valley Parade.
Mellon said: “Bradford are arguably one of the biggest clubs in the division. It’s a fantastic football club, with a great fanbase, a good manager and good players,” said Mellon.
“We’re going to have to be somewhere near our best and have some top performances in order to get something from there.”
Mellon reports no fresh injuries from Saturday’s opener and will consider giving a debut to loan midfielder Alex Marrow – the 22-year-old was an unused substitute against Torquay, having signed from Crystal Palace the previous day.
Marrow, who started his career with Blackburn and ended last season on loan with Preston, became Town’s 12th summer signing.
Bradford boss Parkinson has been almost as busy in the transfer market, giving league debuts to eight summer recruits at Gillingham.
As he approaches his first anniversary in the job, Parkinson said: “Some clubs in this division have been active in the transfer marker this summer. Fleetwood and Chesterfield are a couple of those.
“It will be a competitive league once again and we have to be able to withstand the physical challenge.”
As the Bantams enter their sixth successive season in the fourth tier after an 18th-place finish, the former Bury and Reading midfielder added: “We have made good progress in terms of what we have brought in.
“We now have a good nucleus in place ... but we always want more.”