It has been a disastrous season for Bradford City which looks destined to end in an unthinkable relegation back to League Two.
On their third manager of the campaign, the Bantams sit six points shy of safety with only six games remaining.
As they prepare to welcome Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, we spoke to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus’ Bantams writer Simon Parker to get the lowdown on a campaign to forget in West Yorkshire.
Q: Where has it all gone wrong for Bradford this season?
SP: It’s been going wrong since Stuart McCall went last February. It’s just been a downward spiral since. The recruitment in the summer was scattergun and they managed to go into the season without height in the team, or pace and only one winger – Sean Scannell, who has been injured for six months. The previous chairman had the grand idea of bringing in young players discarded by other teams, building them back up and selling them on for a profit. That sounds good in Championship Manager terms but in practice it has never worked. There are a lot of players on very good wages that are not in the team. It’s just a mess. Simon Grayson didn’t want to carry on at the end of last season and then there was a fatal six weeks without a manager of any sort. It was just the chairman running the show before he appointed Michael Collins, the U18s coach, who was on a hiding to nothing. Then they brought in David Hopkin, which looked a good appointment, but they were already chasing their tails. It’s been the worst season in living memory for so many people and it’s been relegation by a thousand cuts.
Q: A second managerial change of the season came last month. Why didn’t it work out for David Hopkin and what sort of impression has Gary Bowyer made so far?
SP: You could look back and Hopkin should probably take some of the blame, though he was dealt a terrible hand, just like Gary Bowyer has been. He went into January confident of getting players in but it didn’t really happen. The went into January needing a big centre forward and they left it needing a big centre forward, the same with a winger. Bowyer has brought a positive presence in and he’s committed for the future having signed a two year deal this week. People like the fact he has dealt with horrendous situations at Blackpool and Blackburn so he’s got the right sort of experience that Bradford need. Results wise,
Q: Is there still hope for survival?
SP: The amazing thing is that the way League One is this season, they’re only six points from safety and six points from the team second bottom. They’ve lost four in a row but they’re six points off it with six points to go, so technically they’re not out of it. Bowyer is realistic and he is making noises that they are not giving up. But the argument that it can be done is Wimbledon, who looked dead and buried but have managed to give themselves a great chance. The last three games are Gillingham, Scunthorpe and Wimbledon so if by chance they are still in contention, they’ve got a chance to make a real fist of it. But there’s work to be done before then.
Q: What system and style of play does Bowyer favour?
SP: He’s chopped and changed so far. He’s tried a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-2-1 but it’s very difficult because he just doesn’t have any wingers to work with.
Q: Who are the danger men for Bradford?
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