Getting it back together: The 2003-2004 Preview

Bantam By Bantam

By Michael Wood

Big season for...

Alan Combe

What does a man think about when he is sentences to a long year on the bench at Dundee United. What do you think when you see your career floating past your eyes. Alan Combe thought about joining Bradford City and like so many pictures of sweethearts on the walls of prisioners cells, when he finally got here things were different. Example: Alan Combe played for a Bradford City where the chairman was twice as old as most of the player, not younger.

Nevertheless Combe has got what he was after and made the move to the Bantams. He is still young in goalkeeping terms and a good performance this term in England could add five years onto the back of his career that he would never have sitting on his backside in Scotland. He is capable of it and he had Nicky Law's favour. The stage is set for Combe to return to form that saw him make saves that defied belief, fingers crossed and City might have solved the goalkeeping problems that have plagued the club since Jim Jefferies dropped Matt Clarke.

Tom Kearney

After losing a year to injury TK needs to get back into the swing of things as soon as to earn himself a new deal for 2004-2005. The decision to bring him back at the end of last term looks a good one with Kearney looks fighting fit and ready to take Division One by the scruff of the neck.

Is Kearney capable of that? He has the appetite for sure but his challenge this year is to learn to sit back and control a game as well as break up attacks. He needs to set the pace of a match by providing the forward momentum out of defence something that he seemed keen to try do early last term. Time will tell if his eagerness can be matched with ability.

Andy Gray

It could be said that Nicky Law needs to decide what he is going to do with Andy Gray. Should he play him up front to replace Ashley Ward or should he put him on the wing? It's up to Andy Gray to make that decision for him. The 14 goals Gray got last term suggest his role should be further up the field. Competition for striking places is tough this year but Andy is the only man who can play in both the target man and the strike partner role. It's up to him to make himself undroppable.

Lewis Emanuel

Simon Francis and Danny Forrest are well loved by City fans but Lewis, with rumours about his off the field activities and his transfer request, seems like the Ray Krebbs in the Ewing Clan of Bradford City juniors. On the field Lewis needs to make the left sided midfielder role his own, off it he needs to find representation to replace Peter Jackson that appriciate his position in football. Lewis is a talented lad but so are fifty or sixty other lads at First Division clubs and his off the field dealings are getting in the way of his development.

Robert Wolleaston

Of all the new signings who are not returning to the club Bob Wolleaston seems to be the one who can instant impact. He has dropped from Chelsea for first team football and seems set to be given it with Law looking for areas he can fit him into the starting eleven. He needs to justify that faith with some big performances early on but unlike last season's new midfielders, keep it up all year.

Need to do well...

Dean Windass

The old favourite returns and before Ashley Ward left as long as he carried on trying his heart out and working his testicles off then he will get keep the official club hero status that was ripped off him and given to Benito Carbone all those years ago. Now Windass needs to step up and fill the role that Ward has vacated as target man for a team that does not like target men. A good season from Windass could see us up the league, a bad one as being fair we would have probably had out of Ashley, could see us struggle.

Paul Heckingbottom

Worst job at Bradford City? Replacing Wayne Jacobs. The list of those brought in to allow the ginger left back to start to take it easy includes Premiership signing Andy Myers, Internationals like Ian Nolan, young guns like Lewis Emanuel and pigmy footballers like Lee Todd and none have managed to dislodge our longest serving player. Enter Paul Heckingbottom.

Mark Bower

If Bradford City have an heir apparent to David Wetherall it is Mark Bower. A centreback who is good at being a centreback and by the end of the season should have established himself as City's regular left sided middle man.

Michael Branch, Luke Cornwall and Patrick Bannister

New strikers to a man and City have set up a scoring contest to see who partners the target man next term. Cornwall only has a single year on his contract so he needs to impress most but all three form a part of Nicky Law's scattergun strategy of striker selection. Whoever gets the most in the reserves gets in the starting eleven.

Simon Francis and Danny Forrest

The kids are alright. The two figureheads of the new generation of Bradford City are still in the honeymoon periods of their careers and as long as they show positive forward movement that no one will mind the odd slip. Both are great prospects and both have the capability to be regular members of this team.

Ben Muirhead

Ben Muirhead only needs to do one thing to make him one of the best, most exciting players in this division. Learn to pass the ball.

Jason Gavin

Jason Gavin had a problem, well, he had two of them: Mark Bower and David Wetherall. Gavin looked like he would be watching from the sidelines as the season kicked off but the injury to Bower has opened the door for the signing from The Boro to show what he can do alongside the club's skipper. If he does well, and keeping in mind that with Nicky Law signed Gavin but inherited Bower, then Gavin could cement a place in the side.

Needs to do better...

Paul Evans

Second chances do not come as well sign posted as Paul Evans' has done. Send off on loan to Blackpool after scrapping with Wayne Jacobs we thought we had seen the last of Evo at Valley Parade but with three years left on his contract he is sticking around and if he is not to become the low rent Benito Carbone, he needs to start to play like a guy who is worth keeping. With Paul Reid, his competition in the attacking midfielder role, out injured at the start of the season you have to fancy Evans' chances of getting the opportunity of making an impact again. We have seen he has the talent, now he needs the application to keep it up all season.

Danny Cadamarteri

The crashing disappointment of Danny Cadamarteri. Unfit even when fit which is not often and probably below even Patrick Bannister in the pecking order at the club Cadders needs to get back, get fit and get scoring goals.

Michael Standing

Michael Standing is half a good player. Going forward his is imaginative and exciting but defending he is a liability and that is something you can ill afford at this, or any, level. Michael Standing is out of contract at the end of this season and if he has not spent every hour from now to then asking Tom Kearney and Peter Atherton to tell him how to get behind the ball and not have the substance of fog then he wil not be getting a new one.

Kevin Sanasy

Young gun who is in the shadow of Danny Forrest but does well enough in the juniors despite his striking partner's elevation to the first team squad. Tricky and confident Sanasy needs to be making his first starting team debut this season and getting goals regularly in the reserves. Could do with sorting out his mullet too.

Ticking over...

Peter Atherton

Atherton is struggling to make up his mind over if he is going to play out his twilight years as a slow full back or a hard as nails central midfielder. More likely the decision will be made for him and he will be in the treatment room which is a shame cause with a good win Atherton is a very good player at this level. Good club man too.

David Wetherall

For once the world's weight does not rest on City's skipper. Mark Bower, Simon Francis and Jason Gavin all look more capable of creating a partnership that appreciates the off side rule than Robert Molenaar and Andy Myers did and all like a bit of a shout on the field allowing David to move closer to the player-assistant manager role that he seems destined for.

Wayne Jacobs

Wayne is Wayne and sets a bench mark for Paul Heckingbottom to beat. Expect another fine year of service from the ginger left back.

Gareth Edds

Being the only right back at the club should give Gareth Edds a fair run in the team to show what he can do but I'm pretty sure what he, or anyone else at the club, can do will not match what Simon Francis can do when he wants to play that position so Edds could end up on the bench despite his best efforts.

Frazer McHugh and Paul Reid

Both hung around last season, neither looked like they should be in the starting elven. Reid needs to get more forward momentum into his play and stop turning and running away with the ball when it looks like someone wants to tackle him.

Mark Paston

After four years out living on pot noodles and getting hammered on Tuesday nights Mark Paston needs to put student life behind him and get into the swing of professional football. Early indications suggest he might be capable of more than just bench sitting at at the moment that is his job.

Tom Penford

If every a kid grew up watching Chris Waddle it is Tom Penford. Will be hoping to get some more first team games under his belt this term and appear regularly for the reserves. Of the crop of midfielder bubbling under Penford seems to be the best.

Daniel Ekoku and Jake Wright

Still juniors Ekoku and Wright have years on the rest of the new breed of kids at Valley Parade. Wright might get called on if the full back cover is required to play elsewhere and so can expect to be used in the reserves while Ekoku, a real talent, needs to get a sub appearance or two this term to stay on track.