In the build up to the start of the League Two campaign, a handful of Width of a Post writers have taken to the pundit chair to answer a series of Bradford City questions. Parts two and three to follow this week.
How do you think Bradford City will do this season?
The whole of the last season was an improvement on the seasons previous for me. Sure the great performances were dotted amongst some pretty bad displays, but at least they were in there. It was the first time that I felt there was anything like a spine, the first time I felt our midfield could win a midfield battle and the first time I trusted our strikers to score should they be given the opportunity. Our cup form was great and our home form from Christmas onwards was play off worthy, with just one defeat on the night of madness.
The fact that this spine has been retained and built upon and given a full off and pre-season together only strengthens my belief that we will be pushing for a play off place this season. Yes, I did just type that, and I am even considering putting us in my yearly season accumulator.
I think that this depends on a few factors. Tactics, personnel and luck. In my opinion, last season we were lacking in all three areas.
We are led to believe that Phil Parkinson was told on his arrival that his aim was to keep City up at all costs. Some would say that this lead to a somewhat “negative” approach from the manager. We have been promised more “attractive” football next season, presumably meaning that we will be more offensive. This will hopefully lead us to going for the jugular to kill teams off when we are at home and also being more adventurous on our travels.
A major problem for us last season was our lack of a threat on the right wing. This needs to be rectified so that teams don’t see Kyel Reid as our only outlet, which he previously was on far too many occasions.
We suffered some horrendous misfortune last season, as we have done for the last 11 years or so. Although this sounds like “sour grapes”, I generally believe that we have been on the rough end of quite a few refereeing decisions over the last couple of years. Surely things must even out soon? Hopefully that will happen this year.
If all of the above things come together then I don’t see why the play offs should be out of the question. I am much more optimistic going into this season than I was at this time last year, put it that way.
My heart says play offs all season flirting with the automatics, and my head says mid table/top half and flirting with the play offs. Much depends on Nahki Wells and whether he can pick up where he left off last season. Everyone knows him as the danger man and he will be getting a lot more attention from opposition defences, but we need him to get close to the 20 goal mark.
I think that will be the difference between a good season and an average one. I can remember two occasions that Bradford threatened the promotion party since the turn of the millennium and in both season they had a prolific goal scorer, Windass and Thorne. I have all the confidence in Nahki’s ability – and that probably twists my arm into going with my heart!
I think we will get promoted. Primarily because I’m a sap who falls for this most years, despite my deepest intentions not to. Secondly, looking through the squad, I just can’t believe there are three stronger squads in this division. Perhaps this is my own parochial ignorance, but I really can’t believe the talent in this squad isn’t in the top three. I think the manager has established himself as competent, with the potential to be much more, and that is a running theme throughout the squad.
I genuinely think we will have a good season. I know we seem to be of this opinion every season, but I think Phil Parkinson has put the building blocks in place, has learnt a lot of valuable lessons from last season.
I would hope and expect Bradford to achieve a minimum of a play-off place, anything better such as automatic promotion would be a fantastic achievement. Despite struggling last season, the squad has been revamped over the course of the summer and on paper Parkinson has signed some real quality players who, fingers crossed, will perform well. I will predict that City will finish 6th and let the lottery of the play-offs decide whether, at the start of the 2013-2014 season, Bradford will be walking out as a League One club.
Do you feel more or less confident about the future than this time last year?
No. From an immediate prospects point of view I think we have a much better chance of competing this year, however what if we don’t? Many experienced, high profile names have been brought in on short deals suggesting we can’t afford them next year in League Two and we are then back at square one rebuilding a squad (if the over spending hasn’t cost us even further).
Nahki Wells is only on a year deal and we are likely to lose him for very little whether we are promoted or not. As an aside I think Nahki is silly not to sign a new contract because currently he can get a very good deal from Bradford, and if he does well this year a club from higher up will buy him out of a his contract if he still wants to leave. However, should he have a poor season no club will come in for him and Bradford will be in the better bargaining position.
I am very confident that this season will finally bring an end to the misery of taking part in the basement division. It might be disrespectful to other ‘smaller’ clubs in the division, but regardless of us struggling for the past couple of seasons – I would always expect a club the size of Bradford and the supporter base and the calibre of player that can be attracted to Valley Parade to be doing well in League Two, obviously that has never really happened.
At the start of last season, although I was confident, the fans had been sold a dud product. The Jackson/Christie era was flawed pretty much from the outset and once Jacko walked the season was an uphill battle all the way through. In Parkinson I believe we’ve got a manager that potentially could take us on a journey to the Championship. It won’t happen overnight, but somehow it does seem different this time around as we approach the new season.
More confident, definitely. Whilst there seemed to be some dampening down of pre-season expectations last year amidst talks of consolidation, building for the future etc, this was soon forgotten as panic set in. Looking back, I also think the stuttering over the line of Jacko’s caretaker spell at the end of the season before, was always not too far from the back of everyone’s minds.
The uninterrupted and stable close and pre-season should stand us in good stead for a solid start to the season which has for once followed on with the same back room as the season before. For that reason my confidence is positively brimming compared to the last few which were filled with apprehension.
Financially, yes more confident. After watching the demise of the Bulls over the summer it gives me a little comfort to know that we seem to be coming out of the same situation. The selling of the old club shop was a brilliant bit of business and thanks must go to Wayne Jacobs, who one presumes had a massive influence in this. I like the location of the new shop, overlooking the pitch and it now seems a suitable size for a League Two club.
We say it every year, but a good season with crowds staying the same or improving over the season as results do, a good cup draw at home to one of the big guns (I think we are due) and a JPT trip to Wembley would be an ideal season and should secure finances, promotion and hopefully a run at League One promotion the season after.
I am more confident for the season ahead than I was at this time last year. As for the long term, who knows? Bradford City is an absolute rollercoaster ride at the best of times and you only have to look at how long the Development Squad lasted to see that our long term goals seem to be put on the back burner at the expense of getting out of League Two in the short term.