By Jim Nicholson
We’re now at the end of what has been an incredible season for Bradford City. We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some stunning highs and the club has been revitalised from top to bottom, with a management and playing staff that we can finally be proud of.
But where are we actually at? And what are we likely to see happen during the summer?
The management team
To finally have confirmation that the entire management team has signed for another three years is hugely encouraging and shows a fantastic level of commitment from all parties. It was pleasing from my point of view that Phil Parkinson insisted that his key members of staff signed their contracts at exactly the same time as he did his own, because if he is the person to lead us forward, then his support network of coaches will be an essential part of achieving those goals.
For the first time in recent memory there is stability at the top of the club, meaning that the expectations of players both on and off the pitch are set. Whether it is a big-name transfer, a triallist or a youth player, there is a level of performance that is required to wear the Bradford City shirt and a stable management team will ensure that this is maintained.
The transfer policy
The rumour mill is currently in over-drive, churning out a seemingly endless list of names who may be joining/ leaving the club. My opinion is that we have the framework of the first team already in place, which I feel has enough quality to not only survive in League One but to make a significant impression:
Darby – McArdle – ?? – Meredith
Thompson – Jones – ?? – Reid
Hanson – ??
I’ve deliberately left out Davies, Doyle and Wells because I feel we will more than likely lose each of them to clubs in the Championship; though obviously I hope to be surprised.
Where I think our business will occur is in building on the fringes of the squad. Parkinson is rightly keen on quality over quantity and will be keen to keep the nucleus of this side together, so I don’t think we can expect a huge upheaval. It’s more likely that we’ll see those who are released being replaced by players with Championship/League One experience, with the aim of generating better competition for places amongst the recognised first-team.
This season has shown that there is a notable difference in quality between those who are regularly in the first XI and those who aren’t, and by trimming the squad by 4/5 we should be able to accommodate new talent to help us establish ourselves in League 1.
This is the tricky part. With the success we’ve enjoyed this season, it could be very easy for us to get carried away. I’ve already heard whispers of back-to-back promotions, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous at this point in time. As I stated earlier, our first team is relatively strong and we have proved in one-off games that we are more than a match for anybody on our day. The issue is that this is much more difficult to achieve over the course of a 46-game season, and this should be remembered when we’re setting our expectations for the year.
The final thing is trust. We must trust the board and the management, and we should back them with our support. They took significant risks this season and thankfully they paid off. We must trust them to invest in the right players, with the right qualities and to continue building this football club in the right way. We will always be greater than the sum of our parts and, as we have shown this season, when we are together, we are unstoppable.