Can impressive summer additions lead Bradford City to promotion?
It’s been all change at Valley Parade this summer. As well as the appointment of rookie boss Michael Collins, there’s a new-look Bradford City squad heading into the coming campaign.
First off, just who is the new man in the Bantams hotseat?
What will Collins offer?
The 32-year-old heads into the season as the youngest boss in the Football League – and one of the few in his first job. It’s a risky move, but the new gaffer does have plenty of playing experience.
A promotion triumph with Scunthorpe United in 2014 is perhaps the biggest triumph of a 418-game career which saw Collins play in all three tiers of the Football League, as well as a stint in India’s top-flight.
Having joined the Bantams as Under-18s coach just 12 months back, he’s now Head Coach of the first team.
And the young gaffer’s playing experience will be boosted by Martin Drury and long-time Carlisle United boss Greg Abbott as his assistants.
It’s an intriguing set-up, and a total departure from previous boss Simon Grayson, who offered stability but little progression. Time will tell if it works.
Anyway, how about those new signings?
New season, new squad
Including loan deals, 11 new players have made Valley Parade their home this summer, with 10 going in the opposite direction.
In short, much of the starting XI is going to look totally different next term.
On paper at least, the Bantams look to have done some excellent business, with Anthony O’Connor possibly the pick of the bunch. The former Aberdeen ace was also a promotion-winner from this level with Burton Albion in 2015-16.
Former Nigeria international Hope Akpan is also something of a coup, and adds physicality. Meanwhile, versatile defender Joe Riley was one of the stars of Manchester United’s youth setup, and picked up two first-team outings.
It tends to be fresh, young talents who have arrived, with Huddersfield Town’s Jack Payne and teenage Middlesbrough striker George Miller also coming in on loan.
As with the managerial situation, the question is whether raw, inexperienced talents are the way forward. But the club have retained proven first-teamers like high-scoring hitman Charlie Wyke and Nathaniel Knight-Percival this summer.
The consistency problem
The main issue the Bantams had last term was consistency. They finished the campaign in 11th place – but proved that on their day they could match anyone.
Bradford were just one of two sides to win away at table-toppers Wigan Athletic last term. And they also picked up a comfortable home win against play-off winners Rotherham United.
On the flipside, they lost to three of the four relegated sides – including a 2-1 home loss to Northampton Town.
Whether or not Collins can arrest that hit-and-miss form remains to be seen.
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