Bradford City fans endured a turbulent 18-months or so as they were relegated from League One in a season which should have seen them push back into play-off contention. Many have become disenchanted with goings-on at the club but this summer breeds a fresh air of optimism, and quite rightly so – which is unusual following a divisional drop.
Gone are the days of wild megalomaniac Edin Rahic, the former chairman who was arguably running the club into the ground. His dealings have been well-documented whether that be trying to force popular manager Stuart McCall to resign despite a very successful season, or interfering with team selection and deciding who should take the penalties. It was quite a disastrous reign for the German which culminating in the decision to appoint a manager that hadn’t even applied for the position in Michael Colllins.
With Rahic steered out of the city to the point of no return and Gary Bowyer at the helm, some sort of stability has been restored at Valley Parade. Bowyer, who managed to guide Blackpool to an immediate return to League One with a play-off final victory, will be hoping he can replicate that with The Bantams. It was only three seasons ago that the former Premier League side were defeated by Millwall in the League One play-off final.
Bowyer’s business over the summer has been more than astute, beginning with shifting the deadwood out – players such as Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Josh Wright and Alex Jones were just a few who hugely underperformed last season. Pre-season has only just begun but there will be nine new faces in the claret and amber next season. The bookmakers Betway88 Thai are confident that Bradford will return at the first time of asking given their transfer activity.
Boywer has elected for a veteran duo up top with Bradford-born Clayton Donaldson joining from Bolton Wanderers and most impressively, James Vaughan coming in from Wigan Athletic. Both are over the age of 30 but should prove to be shrewd bits of business. City were the joint-third lowest scorers in the division as they struggled to cope with the loss of top-scorer Charlie Wyke. For the first time in his career, Vaughan will drop down to League Two having played most of his career in the Championship and Premier League, which is only testament to how big this signing could be. His spell at Bury in the 2016/17 season returned an impressive 24 goals in 37 appearances – he should definitely be above this level.
As Bradford finished bottom, they leaked 77 goals – the fourth-highest in the league at nearly two per game. Which is probably why five of their new signings are in the defensive department, including a trio of central defenders – Ben Richards-Everton (Accrington Stanley), Paudie O’Connor (Leeds) and Tyler French (AFC Sudbury). French is an outstanding prospect having had trials at Crystal Palace and Leicester City in the past. His leadership attributes, something Bradford hugely lacked, must’ve been a focal point after he captained both the youth team and the first team at AFC Sudbury. O’Connor was originally on loan at the club and soon captained the team despite being on loan from local rivals Leeds United – again further emphasising that need.
The Bantams will face a stern test in achieving promotion straight back to League One with nearly-sides Mansfield, Forest Green and Exeter all baying for vengeance. Plymouth too have made a wise choice in manager whilst Salford City will more than likely spend their way to the top. Either way, things are looking up in Yorkshire.