It has been a tumultuous season to say the least for Bradford City.
Though they maintained a place inside the top six for much of the first half of the campaign, they did not look as powerful a force as they did last season and a bad run ultimately cost Stuart McCall his job.
Now it is left to Simon Grayson to attempt to guide the Bantams into the play-offs and a victory over Rovers on Monday night will be key to getting them back on track.
We spoke to Bradford Telegraph and Argus’ City writer Simon Parker to get the lowdown on the Bantams.
Q: How do you assess what seems to have been a turbulent season so far?
Simon Parker: The best way to describe it would be up and down. Despite losing half the side from the play-off final last season, they managed to pick up where they left off and compete in the top six. You worried what would happen if they had some injuries though, and it quickly became clear that beyond the first 14 or 15, there wasn’t much strength in depth. They lost a few players at once to injury and it really hit them over Christmas. At one stage they didn’t have a recognised full back available. Results began to suffer and they haven’t won since New Year’s Day. They lost six in a row in all competitions and it cost Stuart McCall his job.
Q: How has Simon Grayson been received?
SP: He was the best candidate for the job by some distance and the attitude has been that if it can’t be McCall, then Grayson is the next best thing. McCall went after his first bad run and most people were up in arms about it. It did look a harsh decision. Grayson hasn’t had the easiest introduction with games being postponed. Bradford were due to play Wigan on Wednesday night at Valley Parade and that would have been his first home game, 31 days after taking over. They’ve only played twice in that time but there seems to be plenty of confidence Grayson can do a good job.
Q: Can Bradford still make the play-offs?
SP: They’ve got a good chance. Teams don’t seem to have taken advantage of Bradford struggling so despite not winning for so long, they’re not far out of it at all. Only Rotherham and Plymouth have put runs together so it is still open for them. The injury picture looks a lot better now so if they can keep players fit, then they’ll have a chance.
Q: What style of play does Grayson favour?
SP: It’s been very much back-to-basics since Grayson took over and I think he’ll continue that. Bradford haven’t kept a clean sheet since November and conceding goals has really hurt them this season so it is a big priority of Grayson to get that sorted. But it won’t involve parking the bus. Draws aren’t really any good to them at this stage – they need to be winning matches so they will be having a good go on Monday.
Q: Who are the danger men?
SP: Typically you would say Charlie Wyke but he will be suspended having been sent off in the game at Plymouth. Paul Taylor is a big handful, mainly down to his unpredictably. He plays either on the wing or as a second striker and you’re never quite sure what he’s going to do. And he loves a shot whenever he gets the ball.
SP: I’ll say 1-1.