For Bradford City’s younger generation of fans, it must be hard to fathom that just 18 years ago, their club was fighting it out with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League.
After two seasons in the top flight, the Bantams were relegated to the Championship where they narrowly avoided the drop for the next two years as financial ruin saw them go into administration. In desperate need to cut costs, the club had to let their best players leave which had a disastrous impact on their fortunes as they failed to secure survival in 2004.
A failure to secure an immediate return to the second tier during the following season was followed by another underwhelming campaign at Valley Parade before they hit rock bottom in 2007. Despite the efforts of Dean Windass, who fired in 12 goals in all competitions, Bradford were relegated for the third time in seven seasons, completing what was a spectacular fall from grace by having their fate sealed by a Chesterfield side who were also consigned to the drop.
Competing in their first campaign in England’s fourth tier for 25 years, the club’s decision to slash season ticket prices to £138 was welcomed by their supporters yet it was the choice to hire Stuart McCall that really got their hopes up (via the Guardian). However, the 54-year-old’s appointment ultimately proved to be a false dawn as an over-reliance on unproven youngsters and short-term loan signings saw Bradford finish in 10th place and a whopping 16 points behind the play-offs.
The choices made throughout the 2007/08 campaign should provide a warning to Gary Bowyer ahead of the next season as it is imperative that they do not make the same mistakes when they make their return to League Two. Although they are not mathematically relegated yet, a nine point gap for a side who have won just 10 games all year is clearly insurmountable and so the club’s fans wouldn’t blame them if they already have one eye on how to secure an immediate return to the third tier.
Although they will undoubtedly be one of the favourites to secure promotion, if they do not recruit well in the transfer window, it wouldn’t be surprising if they face their second prolonged period of the 21st century in the basement division.
What do you think Bradford fans? Does Bowyer need to completely overhaul his squad in the summer? Are you confident that the club can make an immediate return to League One? Let us know below.