Since gaining promotion to League One in the same season that The Bantams reached the Capital One Cup Final, Bradford have beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Sunderland at home. Results like this may suggest a Premier League quality squad emerging from the North, yet the Valley Parade outfit couldn’t be further from the likes of Manchester United and Leicester.
Results last season put Bradford on the map with many astounded by the comeback against Chelsea then going on to get a clean sheet against Sunderland. The League 1 team certainly represented smaller clubs in the cup but could’t replicate the results in the league.Results against the better teams in their own league conveyed how little quality the Bantams had. A 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Bristol City and a 3-0 loss to Preston during the final push for promotion highlighted why the team missed out on the play-offs by 4 points. The squad lacked depth, pace and experience after losing Jones in central midfield.
The 2015/16 season started with the youth of Devante Cole, Jordan Bowery and Lee Evans all being added to the squad while experienced players such as Brad Jones and former Bantam Kyel Reid added to the squad. Parkinson seemed to have added more depth to the squad as well. The signs were positive for the season ahead.
Instantly, City stumbled into the league with a 4-1 loss to Swindon on the first day of the season which was certainly not what Parkinson had planned. In fact, the league’s first five games were win-less for the Bantams with 3 draws and 2 losses, the Bantams sat 20th in the league with a few moans and groans at Parkinson’s management. The long ball tactic wasn’t working with the loss of John Stead. The Citizens had to find a way to expose Devante Cole’s pace. Since the poor start City have only lost 4 games in 18. Currently sat in 10th heading into the New Year with Cole top scorer with 6 goals, what will the first half hold for The Bantams.
3 points of the playoff positions, City are entering 2016 off the back of a 3-1 loss to fellow Cup giant killers Sheffield United. The result is a damaging one due to it being a derby but Parkinson is looking ahead to for an instant ‘response’ in the games ahead after the turn of the year. The result however does show an improvement compared to the results against strong teams last season. Another result that portrays improvement is the 0-0 draw with Coventry City.
2016 could be the year of Championship promotion for Bradford with fans hoping for a more progressive, passing style of play that will see the Claret and Amber plying their trade in the Championship next term.
With the depth installed by Parkinson in the summer suggests that the Bantams have the legs to spread the weight of the frequent games ensuring there’s no burnout towards the end of the season. However, with many being loan signings, some may leave on expiry while will the ones staying the whole season have the motivation to push for promotion when the tiredness kicks in.
Another worry is the lack of goals. Cole has 6 of 24 scored this term. The goal difference is at a meager +1 which may mean more 0-0 draws than impressive wins. Yet still, there are positives to take from the lack of goals with City only 3 points from the play off positions at the half way stage having scored the fewest goals of any of the top ten. What are the possibilities when the attacking unit finally click and the goals start going in? A style of football where the focus is having the ball on the floor and an attacking intent with Clarke, the player of 2015 as voted by City fans, and Cole, the top scorer signed on a free from Manchester City, as oppose to having the height of Hanson up front may lead to improvements while maintaining the same defensive security that’s possessed at the back.
With a push for goals during the push for promotion, the Bantams may reap the rewards of a change in style. Ultimately, the season will hinge on the goals Bradford get. A better return in the second half of the season would lead the way to a possible promotion party at the climax of the campaign. This could be the term that City fans see how adaptable the squad is, before the fans can dream of Championship football, the players must show that they can change to fit the circumstances of individual games as oppose to the long ball football that left City short of the play-offs last season.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Steve Walker.