Two years ago they were narrowly beaten at Wembley by Millwall in the League One play-off final. Last season they finished in mid table, having harboured hopes of another play-off chance at least until March.
This Saturday they arrive at The Valley in 24th place, six points from safety having won fewer games (10) and lost more games (23) than any other team in the division.
When they sacked Stuart McCall in February 2018 they were, despite losing five consecutive games, comfortably sitting in sixth place. Simon Grayson took over for the rest of the season but his contract wasn't renewed. Instead, they promoted Michael Collins from his post as under 18s manager only to sack him in early September. David Hopkin was appointed and in December last year, with the club bottom of the division, the chairman and chief executive Edin Rahic left the club "by mutual consent".
Majority shareholder Stefan Rupp said at the time "I will do everything in my power to wash away the dreadful memories of the last twelve months and consign them to the history books for good". The departure of Rahic (who had been accused of meddling in team matters) was, said Rupp, "the beginning of a new chapter for the club".
And for a month it seemed like it was. Four wins out of the next five games with a goal difference of 13-1 propelled The Bantams out of the relegation zone. It seemed like purging the club of Rahic had done the trick.
But it didn't last. Since beating Accrington on January 20th Bradford have taken just nine points from a possible thirty nine with only two wins (4-3 v Shrewsbury and 3-1 v Peterborough). Hopkin resigned in February after the team had lost to Walsall and Gary Bowyer became the club's fifth manager in just over a year. Even Roland Duchatelet understands that such instability doesn't breed success and the 1-4 home defeat to Blackpool last weekend was their sixth defeat in the last eight games. They have good strikers in Eoin Doyle, Jack Payne and David Ball and they have scored 43 goals which is equivalent to Coventry and Blackpool in eighth and ninth places. However, their defensive record of 67 conceded is the worst in the division bar Rochdale.
Billy Clarke's return to The Northern Commercials Stadium (otherwise known as Valley Parade) on January 31st has not been a roaring success with appearances largely confined to cameo performances from the bench. Adam Chicksen has become a Zimbabwean international since leaving Charlton and has appeared 25 times for Bradford this season.
Although Krystian Bielik was injured on international duty with Poland, Lee Bowyer should be able to field a strong and rested squad. He didn't think that any momentum had been lost during the international break, saying:
“They were like a kid if you had taken their toys away! Kids just want to play with their toys and the players are no different with football. I’m looking forward to Saturday because the lads’ attitude has been spot-on, their intensity has been spot-on and, if anything, that will give us an advantage come later on in the season.”
The team has the chance to widen the gap to Peterborough to twelve points as the Posh game at Portsmouth has been postponed to April 30th. We are expecting a (reasonably) comfortable 2-0 win.