By Jason McKeown
Bradford City have kicked off a busy summer of player recruitment with the welcome return of a familiar face, following the news Andy Cook has signed a two year deal to join the Bantams.
Cook enjoyed a very successful loan spell at Valley Parade last season, netting eight goals in 16 starts (plus five sub appearances) after joining in January from Mansfield Town. It was a hugely impressive showing. In a team that was creating few chances and where he led the line on his own in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Cook proved extremely clinical at taking chances and finished the season top scorer for the club.
The 30-year-old did not have the best of times at Mansfield, who he had joined in the summer of 2019 for an undisclosed fee following a goal-laden couple of seasons. He netted 18 goals for Walsall in 2018/19, an especially impressive feat considering the Saddlers were relegated from League One that season. That was his first season in the Football League, after a prolific spell leading the line at Tranmere Rovers where he helped them earn promotion out of the National League. He has also played non league football for Grimsby and Barrow.
Cook’s overall career record of 159 goals from 395 starts (124 sub appearances) means he is around a 1 goal in 2.5 games striker. And that level of potency is a huge boost for City, who, following the retained list announcement, had gone into this summer without a striker on the books.
City have been strongly linked with Cole Stockton, who played under Derek Adams at Morecambe last season and scored 15 goals in their impressive promotion campaign. But prior to 2020/21, Stockton had never come close to netting double figures in a season. He is a good player for sure but lacks the proven track record that Cook offers. With the news Stockton has agreed a new contract at Morecambe, City have seemingly moved quickly to secure the permanent services of Cook.
With Adams favouring a similar 4-2-3-1 set up to the one deployed at City by Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars last season, Cook’s strong performances would suggest he will fit in very well with the strategy the new manager will look to implement at Valley Parade.
The lone striker role can be a difficult one and the obvious requirement is to have someone who is capable of holding up the ball, which Cook has shown he can do. But Cook also offers a good level of mobility and a willingness to keep making runs, patiently waiting for the right opportunity. His discipline at doing the right things, often without reward, was especially notable given the contrast with his rival for the striker spot last season, Danny Rowe.
This is a strong statement of intent for the Bantams. Cook is a player with several good years ahead of him, and he has proved he can play at a higher level. Cook has also shown he can handle the big club expectations of playing for the Bantams, and his attributes will suit the playing ideals of his new manager.