Plymouth Argyle will face Bradford City this weekend in a battle of two sides who were relegated from League One last season. To get a feel for how the opposition are viewing the game, we spoke to James of the Width of a Post Bradford fan website, which can also be found on Twitter.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Bradford?
It was by fluke really. I was 16 and had a morning paper round. One Saturday the papers were delivered late to the shop. And whilst we were waiting around, I was chatting to some friends who told me they were going to Valley Parade that afternoon. I tagged along, not expecting much. But as soon as I surveyed the scene from the back of the Kop, I became instantly hooked on Bradford City. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Are there any Bradford players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?
Most of the excitement this season has derived from our wide players. Harry Pritchard – who now plays more central – is terrifically creative on the ball. Dylan Connolly and Zeli Ismail love to run at people and play with real bravery. Keep an eye out for left back Connor Wood too, who is emerging as a fine young player.
The Bantams were of course relegated alongside Argyle in 2018/19. What do you think went wrong last season?
It was a shocking season for us. A huge underachievement. We had invested significantly in the squad that summer, but crucially our overbearing and deluded chairman, Edin Rahic, was calling the shots on signings, rather than a manager. The result was an unbalanced squad, utterly devoid of character. When the chips were down, they habitually fell apart.
Fortunately, Rahic was forced out, but the damage of his wretched leadership has been significant and lasting. With the resources at our disposal we should not have got relegated, but only had ourselves to blame. A huge disappointment, considering two years earlier we had been playing at Wembley and were on the brink of promotion to the Championship.
Do you think Bradford can bounce straight back with promotion this year?
I wasn’t too confident going into the season, as the legacy of last year left us with a squad full of players who had let the club down. But full credit to Gary Bowyer, who has restored unity and brought back positivity. We haven’t always been convincing, but results are very promising and you feel the team will only get better once a considerable injury list clears up. League Two doesn’t look especially strong, so promotion has to be a realistic possibility.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
Bowyer has settled on 4-3-3 that sees the wide strikers provide width. Expect to see plenty of crosses into the box. With only one real out and out striker, James Vaughan, we don’t create a huge amount of chances – but tend to carve out good ones when we do.
At times the football has been ugly, and Bowyer’s conservatism can frustrate. But we are capable of playing some nice stuff as well.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
We aren’t scoring as many goals as we should. We rarely win by more than one goal. Vaughan is our top scorer on five, meanwhile we’ve loaned out Eoin Doyle to Swindon who is scoring for fun. Doyle was moved on mainly for financial reasons, but it will be interesting to see if we recall him in January to bolster our forward line.
We also slightly weak in a couple of defensive areas, but I won’t give away where exactly – in case Ryan Lowe is reading!
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
I work with a Plymouth fan and we have lots of conversations about our respective clubs, so I probably know more about you than most City fans. I’m amazed you were relegated last season, as you seemed well clear of trouble for most of the second half of the campaign. I also thought you’d be up there this season, given what Lowe achieved at Bury and the signings you made. But your wins at Bolton and Forest Green suggest you’re finding some momentum now.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
From what I saw of Danny Mayor last season, he’d be brilliant to have at Valley Parade.
Do you have any predictions for League Two in general this year?
Ultimately, I think both City and Argyle will be up there. Cheltenham look a decent side as well. Hoping that Stevenage go down given the latest Mark Sampson revelations. What were they thinking giving him the job?
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
Like last season’s clash, I can see a high scoring draw. I suspect both managers would take that too.