By James Grainger
Well we can safely say it’s under way.
Since the January transfer window the signings we have made, with the exception of Paul Taylor, are twenty five years of age or younger. Charlie Wyke (24), Alex Jones (22) and Jacob Hanson (19) were the first signs of the owners’ well publicised philosophy of identifying and buying young, talented and hungry footballers. The club followed that up by securing the services of Pybus, Gunner, Patrick and Robinson who were signed for our development squad. All are under the age of twenty. So far in this transfer window the trend continues.
Although not exclusively ‘a German model’ or even for the same reasons I think that Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp believe that to identify and nurture young talent, and the ‘speculate to accumulate’ approach (in both financial and football terms) is the best way to achieve long term success. I happen to agree.
Many readers will be aware of Germanys ‘disastrous’ Euro 2000 group stage exit jointly staged in The Netherlands and Belgium. It brought about a long-term re-structure of German football from the grassroots, all the way up to the top clubs. German clubs are not privately owned like clubs in Britain and are community oriented. All professional and regional clubs were basically forced to adhere to the new ‘model’ known as the ETPP (Extended Talent Promotion Programme).
It was a long-term plan that required co-operation and dare I say it ‘patience’. Almost a dirty word in football, definitely in English football.
Germanys victory in the 2009 Euro U21 Championships in Sweden nearly ten years on was perhaps an early vindication of the foresight and planning implemented after Euro 2000. Germany have now won the World Cup, Confederations Cup and the Euro U21 Championships in the last three years. Mario Gotze who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final is perhaps the most famous example of finding and nurturing talent through the ETPP but many more examples exist and are very well known to football fans around the world.
Now the whole ‘German Model’ concept was basically initiated to achieve success at international level, but the knock-on effect for German clubs and players has been there for all to see. This is what I believe our owners are implementing and a reason for the stated ten year plan to achieve Premier League status. This is a long-term project that we should embrace. We have to be patient.
Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp did extensive research before choosing which club to buy. They chose Bradford City for a number of reasons: club size, supporter base, stadium size but I think most importantly the supporter-club relationship. The Bantams Family. I believe this is the single most important factor in their decision to invest.
As I wrote above, German clubs are run for the common good of the communities they represent. The work of Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn to engage the Bradford public through cheap season tickets and various other initiatives is now being carried on with the new owners. Bradford City is a club with huge potential and has all the criteria needed for the owner’s philosophy going forward. I have total confidence that this approach will be a success. Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn also deserve a mention, and our gratitude no less for selling to responsible investors/owners (it could have been Paldini let’s not forget).
This coming season is going to be very interesting, especially the start. Anything less than a good opening month and the naysayers will delight in spouting the usual ‘I told you so’ nonsense. A large cross section of football society (and society in general) seem to find the pull of negativity too much to resist.
Maybe I am a little too positive for these people but it does feel like we are still on an upward curve; everything from top to bottom just feels right. I concede that there is a chance we will take a step back this season, all the foresight and planning in the world guarantees nothing. But again, patience is the key.
Identifying players and giving them two and three-year contracts year on year will create stability and a foundation that will allow the squad the best chance to bond and flourish. This will hopefully bring about something resembling the ‘German model’ mentioned earlier.
Not all signings will succeed, that’s football, but a fair few will. Being able to pay six figure sums for players is fantastic after years of free transfers and trialists, but refusing to go above a certain wage ceiling while we are at this level is prudent and just good business sense. It means our club is in safe hands.
Hopefully it will be a good start to the season and another step forward. To be up there in the top six and challenging for promotion again is what we all want but if we happen to take a step back this season try and remember that the infrastructure and philosophy at the club is in great shape at the moment. It’s as good as I can remember.
One thing I know for sure is that it’s a good time to be supporting this club and I for one can’t wait for the new season. Long live ‘German Progressivism’.