With a stark upturn in form resulting in 13 points from 6 games, Bradford City’s promotion hopes have been given a huge boost with the club sitting pretty in 6th a quarter of the season to go. The success of their 2016 form has coincided with Josh Cullen’s run of games in central midfield alongside fellow loanee Lee Evans.
Brought in from West Ham’s academy, Cullen has started 7 games since joining The Bantams and while he may have neither a goal nor assist, his contribution is far deeper than statistics. The reliability that Cullen possesses due to his natural connection with Evans makes him one of the first names on the team sheet. And, while being a key player, his first team action can also be the bases for future deals with West Ham.
During the 50th year anniversary of England’s World Cup win that featured West Ham legends Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore, the Hammers fans will have far less concern about the form of their young guns possibly achieving promotion from League 1 in comparison. Yet, with Phil Parkinson’s friendship with West Ham Academy director Terry Westley, securing the signing of young talent enables Bradford a unique selling point in terms of the league. Loan signings coming in and doing well boost Bradford’s appeal and seeing Cullen perform only makes City look a better development centre.
Another young loanee performing to the highest order this season for Bradford comes in the form of Reece Burke, a teenager hailed by Bantam fans due to his sheer maturity in the middle of a defence. Burke, who has received praise on numerous occasions this season, also has the ability to carry the ball from defence creating opportunities for the men at the business end of the field. Burke has notched 2 goals this season and while being wanted on a permanent deal at Valley Parade, his strong performances will only push him closer to Premier League contention with Champions League chasing West Ham as oppose to plying his trade with The Bantams.
The second and final young central midfield loan star comes in the form of Welsh 21-year-old Lee Evans. Described as a player who’s ‘strong, good on the ball and a great passer’ by Phil Parkinson has appeared 31 times this season in the heart of midfield. Evans received his marching orders for a rash challenge against Port Vale earlier this season and his presence was duly missed. He came back to an instant impact vowing to maintain his tough playing style.
Resigning a former favourite Kyel Reid has also resulted in success. The tricky and pacey winger has scored 3 times this season but as a constant outlet on the left wing, the width and connection with Meredith causes a constant threat, as shown during the build up to Proctor’s 2nd goal against Doncaster.[soccer-info id=’21’ type=’table’ highlight=’705||Bradford City’ icon=’icon’ /]
The success of 4 loan signings is no coincidence. City’s strength in creating an environment for ‘borrowed’ players to succeed has been maintained over numerous seasons. Sam Allardyce had words of praise over City’s development of Jordan Pickford. Yet, still the failure of Reece Brown and Oliver Gil from Manchester United provides a reminder regarding the lack of impact a loanee can have when he isn’t cared for. Since then, Bradford’s dealings have been tremendous. Will Atkinson another who lit up Valley Parade, although after signing permanently he had failed to recapture his form.
This consistent success is becoming a benchmark for other team in the lower leagues of Englsih football. The Bradford City ‘model’ which may result in promotion can only be admired, if not followed.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Robbie Jay Barratt.