Time for Bantams to prove themselves

Since relegation from League One in 2007, Bradford City have been regarded as a team ‘too big’ for the fourth tier of English football. With a stadium that would not look out of place in the Premier League, many League Two minnows eagerly anticipate their visit to Valley Parade, where gates regularly exceed 10,000. The Bantams, however, have really struggled with the ‘big club’ tag in League Two. A ninth place finish back in 2008 has proved the pinnacle of their achievements in the Football League’s basement division. With a budget that most of their League Two counterparts could only dream of, it is difficult to see why the former Premier League side have been mediocre at best.

Last February, saw the departure of Bradford legend, Stuart McCall. The former player resigned after three unsuccessful seasons as manager and was replaced by Peter Taylor. With the exception of his infamous spell at Leicester City, Taylor has experienced plenty of success in Football League management. Taylor sparked Hull City’s rise through the divisions, taking them from League Two to the Championship with successive promotions. His managerial CV boasts further promotion success with Gillingham, Brighton & Hove Albion and Wycombe Wonderers. Taylor also managed England U21’s for six years, in two different spells, and was briefly caretaker of the senior side, famously appointing David Beckham as captain.

The Bantam’s finally have an experienced manager capable of handling the pressure that comes with being a ‘big club’. Bradford may not have the strongest squad in the league, but they certainly have one worthy of challenging. Taylor has built a solid midfield with Michael Flynn capable of scoring and he is particularly dangerous from set-pieces. Omar Daley’s pace on the wing is a valuable asset at this level, whilst Lee Bullock has plenty experience in a midfield role. Summer signing Tommy Doherty has already experienced promotion from League Two with Wycombe and is a former Northern Ireland international. Taylor also has a strike force that is capable of scoring around 30 goals. The pairing of Gareth Evans and promising youngster James Hanson could prove vital in a promotion push. Jake Speight, who scored 17 goals in the Blue Square Premier last season for Mansfield, appeared to be a promising signing but he began pre-season with eight days in jail for assault. It will be interesting to see whether this absence has affected his fitness and how he will perform with an 18 month suspended sentence hanging over him.

If Bradford are to challenge for promotion they will certainly need to address their home form, as they lost seven times at Valley Parade last season. The boss will need to turn this around and make the stadium an intimidating place to play. If they can do this, and also maintain their decent away record; they managed eight wins on the road in 2009/2010, then the West Yorkshire side could mount a serious promotion bid.

The club finished strongly after the appointment of Taylor in the closing stages of last season, and with his summer additions, there is no reason why Bradford cannot challenge for automatic promotion, and finally escape the basement division of the Football League.

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