Getting it back together: The 2003-2004 Preview

BfB bits in the newspapers

By Michael Wood

Newspapers and magazines tend to cut our massive missives down into bite sized chunks. This is the full copy we went out in previews this summer.

FourFourTwo preview

What are your strengths?

In the Summer we released all but one or two of the players we signed up for the Premiership, our famous "Dad's Army" and replaced them with a bunch of kids signed who could not get into Premiership clubs like right sided midfielder Ben Muirhead who's Old Trafford career was blocked by Beckham. They are young, dynamic, hungry for success and promise to be the most exciting Bradford City team we have seen since the promotion year of 1998/1999

What are your weaknesses?

With having played under fifty professional games being common around most of the squad young and hungry our kids maybe but they are also woefully inexperienced and at times last season it showed. Wiley strikers can pick their pockets with ease as David Connolly's four goal haul for Wimbledon last term proved.

A lesson to learn from last season?

After 100 years of professional football at Valley Parade we have finally released that promising young players need blooding early and sticking with through bad patches.

What has your team got to look forward to?

Simon Francis is a growing into the best defender outside the Premiership bar none, Danny Forrest is a local centreforward who has a natural eye for goal, Lewis Emanuel is Bradford's own Roberto Carlos, Tom Penford has the skills of a Brazilian, Tom Kearney is back from a season long injury and like the other players mentioned is still under 22. The future is bright, the future is claret and amber.

What will be your excuse for failure?

Inexperience in the squad.

Young player to watch?

So many to pick from but Simon Francis deserves a special mentioned. This time last year he was being thrown out of Notts County for not making the grade, he has just come back from playing for England u18s in Portugal after putting many a player to shame in 25 senior games last season.

Most important player?

Daddy David Wetherall who looks more babysitter than captain sometimes but has the job of making men from the boys around him.

Player you would most like to get rid of?

It's not how Ashley Ward plays that is the biggest problem, although lets never praise a striker who got a meagre three goals last season, but his 18,000 a week is the last of the unjustified Premiership wages at the club and is someone would taking the permatanned one away from Valley Parade few would frown.

Have you got the right manager?

Nicky Law does a great job with the kids but he has his flaws. His tactics can be off, he has favourite players and there is a cloud hanging over him regarding an FA investigation that followed him from Chesterfield but during Administration he worked on his own to keep the playing side of the club going and for that he has earned good grace.

What advice would you give him?

"Stick to your guns Nicky". He has got this far on his talent spotting and faith he has shown in the kids, I just hope he sticks to that. Also looking a little less like Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers movies might be good.

Will he still be there in May 2004?

Probably not. If he does badly he will be sacked, if he does averagely then his contract will run out and not be renewed and if he does well someone will nick him.

Are you happy with your chairman?

27 year old Gordon Gibb is one of the strangest chairmen in the country. Len Shackleton left a blank page for the average football directors knowledge of the game but Gibb used to play and could have turned pro when he was 18 so when he speaks on the game he does so with more of an inside track than most supporters. He is steadied our turbulent ship and has plans so he will do us but it is strange to have a chairman he is younger than the manager, the club captain and the guy who writes the website.

Which team do you most want to beat this season?

We would love a crack at the shambles that is left at Elland Road in one of the cups but in the league no one really sticks out. It's always nice to beat Burnley.

Which opposition player will get the most stick?

Not a player but a boss, Rotherham boss Ronnie Moore to be exact. The silver haired tea urinater thinks we should have been thrown out of football last season so we have never been that keen on him. His long running feud with our boss Nicky Law is reminiscent of light skins/dark skins in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing and we are making no comment whatsoever on that phone call from "Ipswich" offering him the managers job at Portman Road.

Where will you finish this season?

With a good wind we will be top half of the table but unless the play offs get extended to 14th position we will be troubling the Premiership.

Observer preview

How will your club do this season? (Any good signings? Significant sales? Is the gaffer popular or a hate-figure? Is there a missing link in the team? Where will you finish?)

There is an air of undeserved optimism at Valley Parade. The players who signed on in the Premiership and managed to turn us into First Division strugglers are gone now and we have made over a dozen new signings, mostly of young players, who are impressive by virtue of the fact that they have not been unimpressive for us in the past few seasons like so many who have been shown the door. We will miss free scoring midfield Dane Claus Jorgensen but the buzz on new boys Luke Cornwall and Robert Wolleaston is good.

The team lacks a real creative talent in midfield but when you are shopping in the bargain basement that's always going to be a problem. David Wetherall, Peter Atherton and the returning Dean Windass provide a spine of experience in the side, which should help the younger players. Manager Nicky Law has a great track record bringing in good young players and we are hoping he has been able to find a half dozen talents like Tom Kearney and Simon Francis both of whom were rejected by other clubs before joining City.

Expect flirting at both ends of the table before a stable midtable finish.

Who is your star player likely to be - and who is your most exciting youngster?

Local overhead kicking centreforward Danny Forrest is our most exciting youngster but our best young player, in fact probably our best and star player, is Simon Francis who this time last year was being kicked out of Notts County. This time next year he will probably be Premiership, with or without Bradford City.

Who'll be this season's boo-boy (ie the most unpopular player in your side)?

Ashley Ward, the last of the big contracts picking up 18,000 a week, is everyone's favourite boo-boy. His return of three goals last season suggests it might be more than the money aspect that gets under people's skin.

Who are your tips for the title / relegation?

Wimbledon, Preston and Coventry City to go down. West Ham United and Nottingham Forest to take the top two places.

Who is your favourite hate-figure at another club?

No one really likes Ronnie Moore of Rotherham United do they?