The less said about Bradford’s last campaign the better, with the Bantams going through three managers and propping up the League One table, suffering relegation to the fourth tier 20 years after relegation from the Premier League.
Many feel as if City have a fresh start now though and there is a sense of optimism amongst fans, with season ticket sales surpassing 13000. Valley Parade will comfortably boast the highest attendances in the League and that home support will doubtless assist Gary Bowyer’s cause.
With a month to go in the transfer window, Bradford must surely have already completed their incomings, with ten through the door. One of City’s biggest problems last season was an inability to find the net, managing only 49 goals which was the third lowest in the league. To address this, Bowyer has gone out and captured two excellent forwards in James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson. Both forwards have experience as high as the championship and can both be considered proven goalscorers, finding successes at clubs such as Huddersfield, Birmingham and Brentford – with Vaughan winning the League One golden boot for Bury in 2017. Clearly, Bowyer has been impressed with Vaughan already, naming him club captain.
Matty Palmer arrives on loan from Rotherham and the Englishman played an important role in the Millers’ promotion from League One in 2018, after joining from Burton Albion in the January. Palmer featured regularly for Paul Warne at the start of the last season but fell down the pecking order and did not feature after Rotherham’s seven nil drumming at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup as the Millers once again failed to survive in the Championship.
Bowyer has bolstered his defensive options with the acquisition of Ben Richards-Everton from Accrington, where he proved an important player, guiding them to the League Two title and helping them to push on in League One. At six-foot-five, the giant of a man should dominate aerial battles and pair up well with the O’Connors – Anthony and fellow newcomer Paudie. Richards-Everton is a real coup, and potentially one to look out for in the team of the year come May…
Success for the Bantams this season is simple: promotion. Relegated teams tend to have mixed fortunes in League Two. Last year, MK Dons and Bury fared well, with automatic promotion achieved at the first time of asking. However, history has not been so kind to the likes of Tranmere and Chesterfield where successive relegations have been a reality. History and prestige mean nothing in League Two neither, Bradford have a top-tier history – but Swindon and Oldham are in that club and are stuck in the basement division.
Bradford City undeniably has the squad, manager and support to get out of League Two the right way, but the League will surely throw some surprises. My prediction is that they will fall just short and make the play-offs.
I wonder if fans remember the last time they finished in the League Two play-offs.