A decade to forget for Bradford City
It might pain their fans to hear it, but almost ten years ago to this day Bradford City defeated Chelsea, then the FA Cup holders, 2-0 at home in the Premier League.
Fast forward ten years later, and the fortunes of both clubs have changed dramatically since that match. Chelsea now sit proudly top of the Premier League with three titles to their name.
Bradford City sit in 20th position in League Two. It is a dramatic fall from grace for a side who started that season flying around Europe to compete in the Intertoto Cup. Defeating Chelsea was as good as it got for The Bantams.
When looking back, it seems fitting that Benito Carbone scored that day. It proved to be one of five goals the Italian scored that season on wages of £40,000 a week.
Along with the likes of Dan Petrescu, Ashley Ward and David Hopkin, who arrived for big fees, Bradford spent big in a bid to become more than just survivors.
It’s something they are yet to recover from. Administration followed, with the club running up debts of £13million.
Carbone and others were let go in a move that helped seal the club’s survival, but two relegations followed, taking them to the basement division for the first time in 26 seasons.
Like many others before and after them, the club had lived beyond its means and paid the price.
More recently, it appears Bradford have merely made up the numbers. Now in their fourth consecutive year in League Two, with most of that time spent under the stewardship of Stuart McCall, the immediate future looks bleak.
McCall’s reign promised much but delivered precious little. His side won a little more than one-third of his 133 games in charge and it soon became abundantly clear that he wasn’t the man to take the club forward. McCall eventually fell on his own sword and resigned.
His departure paved the way for Peter Taylor to take over – a manager with a proven track record at this level, after achieving promotion with Hull City, and more recently, Wycombe Wanderers just two seasons ago.
Having taken over in February, the 57-year-old has had a full pre-season to stamp his own authority on the squad.
However, the honeymoon period is now over. Bradford have started the season poorly, picking up just three points from their first four games. His side are yet to field the same XI in consecutive games and look devoid of ideas going forward.
The defensive solidity associated with his teams is also nowhere to be seen. Taylor’s League Two promotion campaign at Wycombe saw his team achieve the best defensive record in the entire Football League over the 2008/2009 season, conceding just 33 goals.
It remains to be seen whether he will be given the time and patience that McCall was given by the supporters and the Bantams board.
On the face of it, Taylor has a good squad and a competitive budget to work with.
The tough tackling Tommy Doherty was part of that promotion campaign at Wycombe and will add bite to any midfield at this level.
And in Jake Speight, the manager may have a get out of jail free card. Signed from Mansfield for £25,000 in the summer, the 24-year-old striker has a lot to prove after his spell in prison. He must repay the faith shown in him.
Back to the future
Following that Chelsea match, Chris Hutchings’ Bradford City travelled to Filbert Street to take on what was then Peter Taylor’s Leicester City side.
Leicester started that Premier League season in some style, going top of the table by October. Taylor was then arguably at the peak of his managerial powers.
Bradford fans will be hoping he can recapture some of that magic. The Bantams have punched below their weight for far too long now.
Written by: Shaun Murphy