By Andrew Baxter
Nahki Wells was hugely impressive last Sunday, scoring a hat-trick to gain his side a last-gasp draw at home to Coventry, but are Bradford City a one-man team who can’t manage without him?
At the start of the season, the Bermudian was in sensational form, scoring nine goals in his first eight games, before an ankle ligament injury ruled him out of action for six weeks. Since his injury, however, the form of the Bantams has dipped somewhat, and they are currently winless in seven games.
Wells scored nine goals in 753 minutes of action before his ankle injury at home to Shrewsbury; an average of a goal every 84 minutes, which is an impressive statistic for any striker. City only lost once when Nahki was in the side, before his injury, but is this sheer coincidence, or a representation of his importance to the team?
The Bantams have won 42% of matches this season when Wells has started, as opposed to just 17% when he is not in the side. This does show that he has an influence on the success of Bradford City, but Wells is not the only influential player at the club.
In the game in which Wells was injured, and in the following match at Walsall, City scored four times, with Kyel Reid and James Hanson grabbing two each. This suggests that Wells is not the only source of goals for the Bantams, with Hanson in particular chipping in with six goals so far this season. Now one goal in every three games may not sound like an impressive scoring record, but compared to Kevin Davies, a similar type of player at Preston, the statistics are in Hanson’s favour. Whilst Hanson has six goals in 18 appearances this season, Davies has just two goals, from the same number of matches.
The argument about City being a one-man team becomes unstuck somewhat when you consider the influence that Hanson and Andrew Davies have on the team’s performances. Hanson does not just chip in with goals, but his aerial presence is a nightmare for opposition defenders. He also has the ability to hold up the ball, and bring City’s other creative influences, like Reid and Wells, into the game.
As a result, Hanson’s influence to the team is massive, and when the targetman doesn’t play, the side tend to struggle. Evidence of this is in the form of City’s two cup defeats to Huddersfield and Hartlepool this season, the latter being an embarrassing 5-0 mauling. Hanson has become a consistent player, and arguably one of the first names on the teamsheet every week.
As for Davies, the centre-back’s loss to injury has been a massive blow for the club. City won 60% of games this season, before a knee operation ruled the 28-year-old out of contention for three months. Since Davies’ operation, the Bantams have not won in seven, a clear sign of the influence that Davies has on the Bradford side.
The story was much the same last season, too. City won 48% of the games in which Davies was involved in 2012/13, but just 24% of games when he was not playing.
These statistics highlight that City are not a one-man team over-reliant on the pace and ability of Wells upfront, as other players have a similar, if not bigger impact on team performances and results.