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Are Bradford City title contenders in League Two?

Bradford City were in the League Cup final nine years ago, but now find themselves anchored to the fourth tier for the fourth season running.

The Bantams seem far too prestigious to be competitive in League Two and can boast the 37th largest Stadium in England, but as many learn, the size of a club does not save it from mediocrity on the pitch.

Relegation in 2019 was another episode in the Yorkshire side’s decline since their two-year spell in the Premier League, in which they also reached the semi-final of the UEFA Intertoto Cup during the turn of the century.

Adjusting to life back in the lowest tier of English Football has proved challenging, with predictions suggesting the Bantams would bounce back to League One at the first attempt.

The ninth-placed finish in 2020 was followed by an awful 15th finish and only improving by one spot last season.

But the arrival of Mark Hughes restores hope at Valley Parade, a man who is used to the trials and tribulations of management, having been the Manchester City boss during the fortune-changing takeover in the summer of 2008.

Hughes has utilised his substantial financial backing at the Bantams to bring added quality to an underwhelming squad.

In defence, Brad Halliday’s addition brings a solid option at right-back, centre-backs Matty Platt and Timi Odisinia are young enough to be part of the back-line for years to come, while Romoney Crichlow has previously proved to be an excellent loanee with Swindon Town.

Richie Smallwood looks like a coup to add much-needed steel to the midfield, with the signings of Ryan East and Emmanuel Osadebe a calculated risk which may pay off due to the evident talent of the two.

Attack-minded midfielders Harry Chapman and Jamie Walker are exceptional acquisitions and can regularly provide a piece of magic to unlock any League Two defence.

In forwarding areas, Jake Young and Kian Harratt bring promotion-winning experience, while few are better aerially than Vadaine Oliver in the EFL if the Bantams utilise his strength.

Is this the season that sparks the Citizens’ revival?

Under Hughes, City has a manager with fantastic knowledge and tactically astute with a proven track record at a higher level, which will help them gain an advantage over other promotion contenders.

The argument is that with the resources the Welshman has at hand, not only should promotion be on the agenda, but winning the title must be the aim due to the talented squad he has assembled this summer.

But can the new recruits handle the lofty expectations from such a demanding fan base?

Since arriving back into the fourth tier, the Bantams have brought in some extremely high regarded players, but many have failed to hit the heights expected.

If those new signings can deliver on their promise, driven on by their taskmaster boss, then City will definitely be up at the top end of the table come to the business end of the campaign.

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