Success is a hard thing to judge in football.
Every different clubs’ supporters and chairman/board have different expectations for their club in the upcoming season.
Some clubs expect to find themselves in a relegation battle come the ‘business’ end of the season.
Many teams would be content with a mid-table finish in the division that they currently find themselves in. A mid-table finish for other teams would be a disappointing return for a seasons results.
The top teams are expected to challenge for honours on all fronts and in all competitions. Nothing less than that would be acceptable.
Since relegation to the old forth division back in 2007, Bradford City’s annual expectation is to be challenging for promotion into League One.
Four seasons later and that expectation has failed to be realised despite high budgets (relative to the division) having been spent and two well fancied managers losing their jobs.
This seasons’ pre season expectations is perhaps time to take a step back. Do we realistically expect to get promotion or close to it this upcoming season?
Last season, Peter Taylor’s side were widely fancied to be in the hunt for not only a promotion place, but challenging for automatic promotion. Local and national media once again talked up City’s chances. But once again, hope was crushed in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, with City not just failing to get near a playoff/promotion spot, but found themselves in a serious battle against relegation out of the entire football league.
Taylor’s 12 month spell as the Bantam’s manager left the experienced manager completely shell-shocked in what he described as “the most surprising and disappointing season I have had in 23 years in management”.
If a City legend and up and coming young manager as well as an experienced ‘promotion specialist’ manager have failed to get City out of League Two, what hope does Peter Jackson have for the upcoming season?
Many would write off our chances and probably accept a season of consolidation.
A season of success at City would probably be achieved in most supporters eyes by changing the brand of football so widely adopted under Taylor. The type of ‘grinding out results’ that was meant to make us win 1-0 every week and thus promotion out of League Two was never realised, and we played some diabolical football in the process.
The devastatingly negative tactics when we went 1-0 up at Oxford as well as the dour 1-0 home win against Stevenage under Taylor still live fresh in the memory.
If Peter Jackson can get this team attacking the opposition, playing open and attacking football, may supporters would be appeased even if the final result in May means we just missed out on a playoff spot. It would be something to build on and take to the next season with, crucially, the same squad of players. Chopping and changing teams and replacing Player X with Player Y has been widely discussed on this website – and we all must agree it generally never yields a good result.
Supporters can help in this process by keeping morale up, no matter how hard it gets. Being around the squad last season was very difficult indeed for everyone connected with the club. The previous regime seemed to have a negativity around it that was extremely hard to shake off.
Outlets like the excellent ‘Bantams Banter’ podcast provide supporters a place to turn when the going gets tough watching the team struggle. If we take our position a little bit more light heartedly i’m sure it will rub off on the players themselves and help the squad ‘turn the corner’ in any difficult times that we might/will face in the upcoming season. It shouldnt be a case of us versus them. We should be united in wanting success for Bradford City football club and i’m sure, with the young nucleus of a squad now assembled, we can change this negative ethos. Players getting boo’d – players turning on the fans – should all be part of our past.
No player signs for City wanting to play badly or upset supporters. The sooner we realise that as a collective group and get on their side, the more they will want to play their hearts out for the club, and not just put their head down at the first sign of trouble.
Barring a serious disaster Peter Jackson will be given at least one season at the helm. Many ( including myself) did not want him to get the job on a full time basis, but he has the job now and its time to give him and the players 100%. Lets not start calling for heads at Christmas. Lets not question every decision made when the going gets tough.
If mentalities throughout the club change, we can start to build something that might get us to where we want to be, because the path we have taken previously at the end of every season in League Two has led us nowhere, fast.