Obviously this season was a massive disappointment, but looking at the figures shows some surprising things. Firstly, this season saw City collect more points at home than last season. 10 wins, 3 draws and 10 defeats saw a haul of 33 points compared to last season’s 31 points from 8 wins, 8 draws and 7 defeats. Despite the alarming number of home defeats, an improvement, albeit small, was seen in a purely points basis. When compared to the two ‘worst’ teams in the play offs, Torquay and Stevenage who finished 7th and 6th respectively, both those teams only managed to gain 38 points at home – a mere 5 more than City. In fact, City won more home games than Stevenage, and the same amount as Torquay. Clearly this shows that a ‘fortress’ is not needed to gain promotion. Even Wycombe who finished in the final automatic position only bettered our 2008/09 home record, which saw City finish 9th, by one point. Indeed it is clear that away form is where the difference is made.
City picked up a paltry 19 points on the road this past season – a big factor in the teams low finish. In comparative terms, Torquay picked up 31 points on their travels this season while Stevenage also picked up 31 points away from home. An extra 12 points would have seen City finish on 64 points, still two wins short of a play off place, but it is clear that the team couldn’t do the required business on the road this season. Had they maintained last season’s modest haul away from home would have seen City finish in the top half.
Obviously this is a lot of coulda-shoulda-wouldas, but considering City only won 2 less games than Torquay, and 3 less than eventual play off winners Stevenage, there is not much to pick between the teams in this league. Having looked at this, it is therefore ludicrous to predict another season of battling away at the bottom. Accrington who finished below City last year finished just 7 points from automatic promotion, a scenario all City fans would be pleased with considering the last 4 seasons.
If City can sort out a strong spine to the team with 4 new signings; a goalkeeper, centre half, central midfielder and striker, then there is no reason why the club cannot push for at least the top 7 with the remaining players here. Players like Luke O’Brien, Steve Williams, Dave Syers and James Hanson have all been championed as being good enough for this league so with the right additions, the top 7 should certainly be attainable.
Bradford City clearly have no right to be in the promotion places, but without ambition to be there, the club would be on a slippery slope to oblivion.