With the 2017/18 Football League Season kicking off in just under a month, we will be looking at the upcoming year ahead and what it has in store for each and every one of all 72 Football League clubs.
Jake Verity starts by looking at what this season holds in store for Bradford City. This preview will include the story of last season, a look into this seasons squad, the manager – Stuart McCall and a round-up of the clubs transfer business. Finally, we will look at what the season holds in store for Bradford City with the thoughts of Bradford City Podcasters; BantamsBanter.
The story of last season
It pains every Bradford City fan to think about the end to last season; although given the start the club had, it was miraculous they made it so far.
Bradford City started last season managerless, with eight senior professionals to their name and new owners. It’s fair to say that fans were cautious about what to expect in the upcoming campaign and after year-up-on-year improvement under Phil Parkinson, the club’s future lacked certainty and direction.
Bradford City’s new owners, Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp appointed club legend Stuart McCall as their new manager which proved to be a wise move. McCall immediately got fans on board and with his heroic status, he immediately gained the fans backing.
Last season saw the club spend large sums of money for the first time in what seemed to be an age. The club brought in Romain Vincelot for a five-figure fee and fans were excited under a new era – with new Chief Scout Greg Abbott recruiting well in a short period of time.
The Bantams got off to a flying start going on a 12-match unbeaten run in the League until they fell victim to a 1-0 defeat away at Oxford United. The Bantams failed to assert their dominance in games and came through with a lot of draws – 19 in the end which was the highest total in all three Football League divisions.
At the moment the Bantams moved into 5th place on August the 16th after a 2-1 win away at MK Dons, they remained in the playoffs for the whole season – a feat which was somewhat remarkable considering the rocky start they had.
During January, Bradford City strengthened their side with the signings of Alex Jones and Charlie Wyke for five and six-figure fees. The club appeared to be heading in the right direction and the club’s two newest recruits signed to ensure momentum wasn’t lost. Long-serving forward James Hanson was to leave the club to go to eventual Champions Sheffield United but with the club’s new exciting strikers, his departure didn’t feel as damaging to the club.
Mark Marshall was somewhat of a revelation in the second-half of the season and helped to push Bradford City towards the Play-Offs.
Colin Doyle managed to keep 17 clean sheets for the Bantams and a defensive line of Tony McMahon, Rory McArdle, Nathaniel-Knight Percival and James Meredith – with a few guest appearances from Captain Romain Vincelot remained strong and resilient throughout the season.
West Ham loanee Josh Cullen was faultless and brilliant consistent in midfield whilst Nicky Law, enjoying his second spell with the Bantams enjoyed an excellent first-half of the season.
It is also worth noting the contribution that on-loan striker Jordi Hiwula had to Bradford City’s season. The forward managed to score 11 goals in the League for Bradford City finishing up as the club’s top scorer and he was mightily impressive for a young and rather inexperienced forward.
The likes of Timothee Dieng, Stephen Darby, Billy Clarke, Daniel Devine and Alex Gillead were all important pieces of Bradford City’s success – and their contribution’s to last season must be in no way overlooked.
Given the Bantams showcased such consistency throughout the season, Bradford City were favourites to go up through the Play-Offs and although they had faint hopes of automatic promotion towards the end of the season, a 3-0 defeat at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United all but confirmed they would have to risk the lottery of the play-offs for the second season in a row.
Bradford City came up against Fleetwood Town in the Play-Offs and managed to creep through into the Play-Off final after two cagey affairs with Rory McArdle’s header being the only difference between the two sides.
Unfortunately, the Bantams fell short of promotion in the Play-Offs at the hands of Millwall for the second season in a row. It was a valiant campaign, but a crushing end to a successful, surprising and exciting season.