It’s certainly not a bad time to be a City fan.
There’s a new aura of positivism and excitement amongst the City fans, and, so there should be.
At the time of writing, the Bantams have secured 25 points from 16 games. They’re flying close to the summit of the table, have been involved in a cup run that’s seen them go further than Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham and are looking forward to locking horns with one of the big guns of the Premier League: Arsenal F.C. Whilst Bradford will be going into the game as second favourites, the atmosphere will be second to none, the fact that the game is being shown on Sky ensures that Parkinson will receive a much deserved bit of money with which he can buy loan players and, on paper, Arsenal should be putting a good team out, as the Capital One Cup is their best chance of winning any silverware this year. Premiership opposition will stand the lads in good stead for the future, and, as us City fans know from experience, the cups often leave room for surprises.
Given how bleak and dismal that seasons prior have been, this taste of success will be something that fans will be relishing. Bradford City are dominating games and producing consistently good results, with a strong bench supporting a stellar, starting eleven. Indeed, Bradford’s recent run of stunning form has silenced the cynics and given us all something to shout about, whether it be the number of points, the positive goal difference, the penalty success, the superb squad, or the string of results in the Capital One Cup.
It wasn’t always that way, though.
Roll back a few months, and a struggling City were faced with the prospect of relegation. Floating around the bottom of the table and with McLaughlin, Davies and Oliver facing match bans for violent misconduct, times weren’t great. Add to the mix the possibility of a point deduction, and a place in the Conference seemed plausible.
Go back a year, and the situation was equally bad. Bradford had secured their lowest League finish in 35 years, finishing 18th, and had just been thumped-at home-by Crew Alexandra. To rub salt into the wounds, the crippling rent fees meant that there was no guarantee that City would be returning to Valley Parade, and many of us left the last game feeling perplexed and disheartened.
With such misfortune occurring just over a year ago, it’s hard to believe that everyone’s talking about promotion. It’s almost as though everything has just come together and clicked.
McCardle and Meredith are solid at the back. There’s no doubt that City are going to miss the aerial domination of Oliver and Davies, but, from what I’ve seen, young McHugh should be able to fill the boots of the experienced centre half, whilst Parkinson’s been keen to sing the praises of Sunderland’s John Egan.
In midfield, Doyle passes the ball well, Jones drives the team forward and delivers set pieces with pinpoint accuracy, and both Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid are full of pace and trickery. Meanwhile, the trio of Wells, Connell and Hanson allow for plenty of attacking options up front, and recent goals from Davies and the stunning free-kick from Jones have proved that the goals are coming from all over the park.
The bench, meanwhile, is full of impact players who can come on and change the flow of the game, as well as provide more than adequate replacements-should they be needed-for the starting eleven. There’s friendly competition between Duke and McLaughlin for the starting goalkeeper spot, which is definitely having some kind of effect: both keepers have been putting in faultless performances of late.
It’s certainly a contrast to the injury-plagued seasons that many of us have had to endure. We’ve put up with bad referees, dodgy decisions and disallowed goals for too long, so, if anything, the fans more than deserve to savour this run of success.
It’s still early days, but, we’ve already seen City bridge a 59-place gap between Premier League opposition, watched them enjoy their best start to a season in 59 years and cheered them on to get to their first quarter-final since 1989.
Is this the season?I really hope so.