WOAP asked local journalists, radio commentators and podcasters why they think Bradford City have been successful this season.
City’s season has been a real team effort.
From Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp through to Stuart McCall and his players, all have quite rightly been lauded in recent days for taking the club to Wembley.
Then there is Greg Abbott, who has done a sterling job behind the scenes in terms of re-shaping the recruitment and structure of the club.
But one man who shouldn’t be overlooked as all the back-slapping takes place is former owner Julian Rhodes.
Football is a business like no other and even the shrewdest operators can find themselves tripped up or exploited in those first few weeks.
With that in mind, one of the best decisions the new owners made following their May 20 takeover last June was to retain Julian in an advisory role. His steady hand ensured City got through an unexpectedly difficult summer that saw Phil Parkinson leave along with all his coaching staff.
From my understanding, Stuart’s appointment also had a lot to do with Julian. And, as has been proved since, City have flourished in the intervening 11 months under someone who, let’s not forget, returned to serious misgivings from some among the Valley Parade support.
Julian hasn’t been involved in the running of the business since the start of July.
But he definitely has played his part in the team effort that has driven City forward in what, we all hope, will be a successful end to what could have been a very difficult season.
It’s what makes or breaks a team. A side used to winning and playing well will keep doing that, in the same way that one stuck in the doldrums often struggles to find a way out.
And City have had momentum this season in spades.
From the moment they won at MK Dons – and yes, they always win at MK Dons – Stuart McCall’s merry band have never looked back.
I’m the first one to dismiss early league tables as an irrelevance. It annoys me when people quote the division after a handful of games as if that’s it set in stone.
But City’s top six, sorry top five, existence was just that. They might as well have chiselled their name in the play-offs on August 16 as they left the land of the concrete cows.
McCall had his side playing well and believing in themselves. That self-confidence, not arrogance, has been evident ever since. Seven league defeats all season – and never two in a row; none at Valley Parade. No real dip in form.
Too many draws may have kyboshed a tilt at automatic which would otherwise have been on the cards.
But Wembley is more spectacular. Where better to get promoted?
Togetherness goes a long way in football and Stuart McCall’s squad have proved that this year.
Few would have given City a sniff of promotion in the summer after the departure of Phil Parkinson and his management team. But the players that the new boss brought in blended brilliantly with those who remained and with a change in style there’s been a fantastic attitude to games.
Apart from only a handful of matches this season, City have dominated teams. Yes, there’s great talent in there but the team spirit has deservedly carried the Bantams all the way to the play offs and they’ve been a pleasure to commentate on along the way.
The driving force behind city’s success for me this season is Stuart McCall. The passion he has for Bradford City is immeasurable. Combining that drive with an improved tactical know how has been invaluable in some games this season, the second leg at Fleetwood being an example. They’ve been unpredictable for teams due to being able to switch formations effortlessly.
McCall has helped foster a team spirit which is second to none. It has modelled the manager from his playing days. McCall cares about the club, and this group of players have clearly been left in no doubt as to what it means to play for the Bantams. It shows in their performances, which have been brilliant to watch. It’s a team effort, but Stuart McCall has made this a team for Bradford fans to be proud of.
One word – change. Be it the ownership, staff and most of the players, the change was needed as a whole this season.
Parky took us to our maximum under Lawn and Rhodes and in order for the next step to be successful forward-thinking chairmen with an open mind were needed; that’s exactly what we got!
McCall has also been very astute, especially with the capture of Greg Abbott and at the moment it seems to be working the way we acquire players and McCall get’s the best out of them.
It’s been like a perfectly blended cocktail and one us fans have loved drinking up!
Play off final: Width of a Post build-up
Pushing back to where we belong by Jason McKeown
The first era of Bantam Progressivism, 1981-88 by John Dewhirst
Speaking to James Mason by Jason McKeown
The second era of Bantam Progressivism, 1995-00 by Kieran Wilkinson
Bradford City’s 1996 play off final remembered by John Dewhirst
The third era of Bantam Progressivism, 2012- by Nikhil Vekaria
Categories: The 2016/17 play offs