An inconsistent season could still lead Bradford City to promotion

By Leon Steel

Another disappointing home result against Barrow saw the Valley Parade boo-boys return in full voice. It is an overused cliché to say ‘you win some, you lose some’ but that almost feels like the best way to sum up The Bantams season so far, especially at Valley Parade. That being considered, and despite the inconsistency, City are still within striking distance of a promotion winning season.

With a win ratio of 40%, only Stuart McCall’s second spell in charge and the Mark Trueman/Conor Sellars spell rank higher than Hughes’ record in recent years. Phil Parkinson, considered by many to be the greatest Bradford City manager in modern times, sits just short of 37%.

Many will look back to the 2012/13 League two season as a momentous success, but I suspect that many have also forgotten that after beating Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day 2012, City would not win at home in the League until the 19th of March 2013, beating Wycombe Wanderers 1-0. 

While the fantastic League Cup win versus Aston Villa went some way to lifting the mood amongst City fans, the League season appeared to be spiralling out of control having started the year in 6th place and then dropping to 12th by mid-February having lost to promotion rivals Gillingham at home. Without the electrifying League Cup run, I have no doubt many would have called for the head of Phil Parkinson.

City would of course go on the finish the season in 7th place having a late season run of form that would see them sneak into the final play-off position. While The Bantams would lose the opening play-off game at home to Burton, they would go on to defy the odds with a 3-1 win at Burton. The mythos surrounding this game is similar to when Bradford City faced a similar task against Blackpool in 1996, with the opponents allegedly cancelling travel plans and hotel bookings for the final at Wembley Stadium. The team would go on to convincingly beat Northampton Town 3-0 in the final and the season was declared an outstanding success.

The point of this article is to demonstrate that while in the moment, we as fans can be racked with disappointment following what feels like another meagre performance, we should consider that a League Two side especially is prone to inconsistency. 

To quote another well-known cliché coined by Baseball legend Yogi Berra, ‘It ain’t over, till it’s over.’

Categories: Opinion


21 replies

  1. I’ve found the football boring this season, I don’t find passing the ball around between our goal keeper and our defenders exciting football to watch myself but I’ll take it if it gets us out of this league.

    Going by the lack of atmosphere this season at valley parade I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels like this.

    Although Parkinsons team didn’t pass the ball around as much personally i found it one of my favourite times watching Bradford city. I felt a connection with a lot of the players like Darby and Jones.

    • The Darby and Jones club are making a come back given the ages of recent signing Clayton and Derbyshire.

    • wheredo the goals come from? zero goals from any defenders this season is a damning stat. Clayton, Smallwood and Giiliead have very few goals between them career wise. This leaves Cook, Walker and whomever is around them to score, and the options for that latter role have few goals between them. Even Oliver as has an option is over a 1 in 4 goalscorer despite spending most of his career in the lower leagues

  2. Win percentages are a strange thing. Unless all managers manage us in the same league it can be somewhat misleading.

    Parkinson may have 37% but after actually getting promoted (so he ould have a fairly high percentage), he was allowed leeway to acclimatise in L1 for a few seasons which would have pushed that percentage down.

    As for this current side, they’ve been on a gradual fall down the table over the last few months and if the form carries on they will drop away from the top 7. The long term form (10-12 games) needs to improve becuase I don’t fancy us if we have to close a gap with a half a dozen or so games left

    • Interestingly, and If I’ve worked this out correctly, Parkinson’s win percentage in the League Two promotion season was 39% so while it certainly dipped a little, he must have been fairly consistent overall. I’ll be be interested to see how Hughes does in comparison.

  3. Unfortunately I think this article is missing a glaring point; the expectations on this season are far higher compared to the severe budget constraints of 12/13 and we are falling well short this term in what is, quite frankly, a dreadful division in terms of quality. MH has been in charge for 12 months and I see very little difference in approach compared to the Bowyer and Adams’ teams – to not have a single shot on target against Barrow at home is inexcusable. The consistent lack of winning mentality and ruthlessness at VP is incredibly draining and all I can think every Saturday evening is how this club just doesn’t deserve this unwavering fanbase. Bradford City should be sat comfortably in the top 3, any less this season would be a huge failure.

  4. Just to agree with other posters, win percentage needs to be weighted against which division the record covers. Phil Parkinson, Paul Jewell and Chris Kamala are our last three managers to achieve promotion. Their win percentage reflects both the promotion season and (in all three cases) staying up in their first season in a higher division. To quote an old saying “Their are lies, damn lies and statistics”.

    Thanks for the excellent article Leon.

    • Yes that’s true, they do say statistics shouldn’t be used in isolation but it gives us a bit of information as to how things are going.

      Thank You 😊

    • i do though think that Stuarts whole season unbeaten at home in that 2nd stint does equate has a stat that deserves immense credit. Not only that it was the most entertaining football in the past 2 decades

  5. Perspective is very importantly and you rightly point out we are still within striking distance of promotion. If City, Stockport, Northampton and Mansfield all win their games in hand then 1 point separates 3rd place Carlisle and 7th place. This is why despite my reluctance to take up my ST seat for the rest of the season, I don’t want Hughes to be sacked, we can still go up.

    Our inconsistency can only be resolved when we can score two goals a game regularly, and that will be more likely when City stop being so predictably slow that other teams have already worked out what to do before they even reach the ground. Barrow experienced so little jeopardy on Saturday from City attacks it was laughable. It must have felt like being attacked by tortoises.

    Mark Hughes stated he was cross with the players for not doing what he asked them to do in the final third. Sadly he fails to realise that the ultra-slow build up in the first two thirds means that opposition always have 11 behind the ball and without amazing skills you just can’t break down a massed defence. Our players were not going to do much in the final third because of his instructions in the first two thirds! I am not sure how many more games he needs to see this?

    Barrow on the other hand managed to get shots off without needing to make the crowd feel watching paint dry would be a better way of spending the afternoon!

    Opposition know that the crowd will get in the backs of city if they play a frustrating game and by now the players must be dreading home games. There is a reason we play better away more often…

    Parky was no stylist but at least it was all action entertainment. A 0-0 draw under Parky is three times the value of a 1-1 draw under Hughes at the moment.

    It’s dreadful value for money. It’s a waste of some potentially good players. It’s no way to win new fans (Colchester £5 a head day coming up). But despite all this we still support our club don’t we!

  6. You comment that without the electrifying league cup run many would have been calling for Parkinson’s head. I would say that without the electrifying league cup run we would have been strong contenders for automatic promotion. We lost some silly league games during that run to the likes of Barnet , Wimbledon, Oxford ,teams that we had beaten easily in the first half of the season usually just either before or after a major league cup tie. We took our eye off the league ball but recovered sufficiently after the final to reach the playoffs. That team though had character and leadership.

  7. We won’t finish Top 3 but I think we’re good enough to finish in the playoffs, even with the odd / a few Barrow results thrown in.

    And once we’re in the playoffs, if we get to Wembley, I think we’ll win as Hughes passing style will be perfect for the big pitch.

    • If we do go up, the problem is that only Lewis and Walker are League One standard. Most of our other contracted players are still here for next season at least, with three , Oliver, Odusina and Young, also contracted for the season after. That gives very little leeway to recruit players of the desired standard.

      So, in summary, there’s not too much to get excited about!

  8. I feel there is something lacking in the team, promotion if we get promotion will be through the playoffs.
    The enthusiasm at VP as slowly started to wane. I feel we have players on the bench who could make things happen they are not injured they seem to be forgotten players.
    MH is talking about changing tactics and positions l think it is time now to get the enthusiasm back at VP and give these players who are sat on the bench week in week out there opportunity in my eyes it can’t get anyworse than Saturday

  9. If we do go up, the problem is that only Lewis and Walker are League One standard. Most of our other contracted players are still here for next season at least, with three , Oliver, Odusina and Young, also contracted for the season after. That gives very little leeway to recruit players of the desired standard.

    So, in summary, there’s not too much to get excited about!

  10. Something’s obviously wrong with the home form and it’s a bit of a concern that Hughes doesn’t seem to recognise that (judging by his post-match comments, at least). For home matches it just seems too pedestrian to include Clayton and Smallwood and have them doing a similar job, especially when Walker is also coming right back to take the ball from the defenders as he was doing vs Barrow. Surely Hughes doesn’t want him back there? Still, I have hopes that the imminent return of Osadebe could provide a spark. From what little we saw of him in pre-season, he looked dynamic and unpredictable, which could be just what we need in home games.

  11. Personally I don’t think we will make the play offs and if we do I honestly don’t think we will win them.we are too inconsistent we win 2 then we shit ourselves.and I have to say the football is proper boring my son loves going to watch city but the amount of times he’s said this season dad this is so boring tells you all you need to know.

  12. It’s all subjective and will be defined by what happens in May. If we go up the team will be put alongside those that have gone before if we don’t they will be quickly forgotten.

    Had Millwall gone a different way Stuart’s managerial legacy would have been viewed differently and actually the only time since Jewell I turned up to VP expecting to win games.

    Likewise I remember debate as PP’s heroes were failing in the league about swapping the EFL run for promotion and a lack of faith in the team.

    In fact I remember clearly losing 2-0 at home at half time to Southend and everyone on the concourse admitting defeat to the play off charge. One half kicked us on and drove momentum

  13. Whilst I’m not calling for MHs to go I was always concerned his lack of knowledge and experience at this level could be problematic. Yes we can keep the ball and he seems happy with that but what’s the plan? The lack of goals/creativity is a recurring issue, why? I’ve been happy with the managerial appointments over the last few years but always the same conclusion. Yes we can still make the playoffs and I think we will but why should we accept that? Other teams start the season in and around the automatic places and stay there so why can’t we? Bowyer’s style was boring, Hughes style is boring and as for Adams, he just lost the plot and the fans! Would Evans, Wellens or Flynn faired any better? As usual more questions than answers but if we go up who cares!

    • Both Evans and Wellens would have done a better job, the table doesn’t lie! If we get playoffs this season, no way we are winning them with this pedestrian style of football.

      • Wellens has been sacked from his last 2 roles for underperformance. 1 with a big budget.

        I’m not sure evans has been a success since Rotherham. It doesn’t make them bad managers but definitely no guarantee they would have been more successful than Hughes

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