By James Smith
Bradford City’s season looks to have crashed and burned. The Bantams have slumped from third to 11th, going nine games without a win.
And despite a new manager in Simon Grayson, they now languish six points outside the play off places after he’s picked up just one point out of nine.
It dates back to New Year’s Day and a 2-1 victory at Fleetwood, when the hangover then started. Bradford’s German owners Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp have come in for criticism over the sacking of popular manager, Stuart McCall.
Simon Grayson has a good track record in the third tier, gaining promotion with four of his five previous clubs. The one blot on his record was his sorry spell at struggling Sunderland where he was sacked earlier on this season
Some are at a loss as to why the Bantams have been so poor, for a side that reached the play-offs last campaign.
Mike Crowther, of the Telegraph and Argus, thinks its bad luck and bad negotiating: ‘’There were a lot of injuries in defence, particularly in January. As well as the failure to attract their main transfer targets.”
There was a stage where injuries to Alex Jones and Charlie Wyke led to Nathaniel Knight-Percival was used as a makeshift striker.
An already thin squad was depleted further, which led to youth prospects often being selected on the bench including Joel Grodowski and Kai Bruenker. Crowther said of Bruenker: “He is a signing to develop for the future, who isn’t ready to start week in, week out.”
The problem this season has been in defence. Despite recent improvement under Grayson – such as last night’s narrow 1-0 defeat – City have conceded 52 goals, which is more than 22nd placed MK Dons, and relegation threatened Doncaster Rovers and AFC Wimbledon.
In comparison, McCall’s side conceded only 43 goals in the whole of last season, a record only bettered by promoted Bolton Wanderers, and at this stage in last campaign, they had only conceded 34 goals and were sat firmly in a play-off place.
Last night, the Bantams did not manage a single shot on target and goal scoring is now becoming a problem with only six goals so far in 2018, only two of them courtesy of their usual talisman, Charlie Wyke.
Next up for Grayson is another away trip as the Bantams head to South Yorkshire to face Doncaster Rovers, where he will be looking for Bradford to finally find a cure for that New Year headache.