By Leon Steel
As the winds of winter sweep across the country, a fog of disappointment has descended upon Valley Parade. The optimism of summer is currently in the shade and Bradford City fans are wondering if the sun will shine again on our home form. Despite these gathering clouds, I still believe we have reason to be cheerful as we head towards the end of 2022.
Results at Valley Parade have been a disappointment, losing and drawing games the team was expected to win and being soundly beaten by a Northampton team that many would have expected Bradford City to at least be competitive against.
Away form has however been better than many expected with stylish wins against teams flying high in the table. This should tell fans the team can play, score goals and win. Some have questioned the shape of the team, packing the midfield and one up top but this could go some way to explaining the good form on the road.
It’s often said that home sides are under pressure to attack, get the first goal and therefore away teams will adopt a shape to absorb pressure and score goals on the counter attack. Tactics alone don’t win games and this tells us Bradford City has good players which are capable of beating some of the best teams in the league. As fans we must have hope that a winning formula can and will be found to bring the cheer back to Valley Parade.
Mark Hughes appointment was a coup for Bradford City and, during those dark days of Derek Adams, I never imagined the club could attract a manager of his calibre. It’s hard to imagine that any player the club signs could claim to have a higher profile or more experience in the game than Hughes and so he immediately commands respect. No manager should be given a blank cheque but his experience means he deserves space and time to build a team that matches his vision for the club.
Since Phil Parkinson the club has struggled to build momentum and, at a club with limited funds, this will always take time. Parkinson himself endured painful results during his first season and throughout his reign the team had spells of inconsistency, but he still built a team that fans could get behind and created a positive buzz amongst the fans. It appears that most Bradford City fans recognise this and Mark Hughes is committed to proving himself a success.
Hughes will likely have a wish list written out for Santa (Rupp) with a central defender and a striker replacement for Kian Harratt most likely at the top of his list. Crucially, while the team still requires more depth and steel, we won’t see a mid-season rebuild. Some players may reflect that performances haven’t always been as hoped but we’ve seen some excellent displays this season, particularly by Harry Lewis, Romoney Crichlow and Andy Cook. A few key acquisitions could be all it takes to turn a promising team into a promotion winning one.
This year was a difficult one but we approach the festive season with reasons to be cheerful. And, if you raise a glass with friends or family, it’s certainly half full.