A struggling Tranmere Rovers side face a struggling Bradford City side on Tuesday night, at Prenton Park, in League Two action.
On Saturday, The Whites travelled to AFC Wimbledon and were beaten 4-1. Defender Jordan Turnbull got sent off for a late tackle whereas Tom Davies somehow found himself get into the league’s team of the week… a selection that many fans had a laugh at.
A win is thus important for Nigel Adkins’ men who, before the ninety minutes start, are placed inside the relegation zone.
Mark Hughes’ Bradford have also been struggling, coming into the tie on the back of a 3-1 defeat at home to Walsall and placed 14th.
To find out more about The Bantams and their various issues, I spoke to supporter Adam Sopf.
How long have you been a Bradford City fan?
I’ve been going week in week out with my dad since around 2014. It’s been downhill ever since really.
What was that first experience?
My first home game was a 2-1 win against Leeds United. It’ll take something special to beat that day.
Best and worst moments during your time supporting The Bantams?
The best moment was probably the FA Cup run in the 2014/15 season where we beat Chelsea and Sunderland on the way to the quarter-finals where we eventually got knocked out in a replay at Reading. The 2016/17 season under Stuart McCall is another highlight as we played exciting attacking football which is virtually unheard of at City these days. However, it didn’t end well as we lost to Millwall in the League One play-off final, 1-0.
The worst moment, for me, was the disconnect between the club and the fans after the sacking of Derek Adams. Harrogate beat us at home straight after whilst Mark Trueman was caretaker and it just felt like there was no hope for us whatsoever. Sadly, it seems to be going that way again this season.
Greatly experienced manager Mark Hughes was appointed in 2022. His win percentage at the club stands at 38%. How would you describe his playing style and relationship with supporters?
He aims to dominate possession in every game but unfortunately, it’s far too slow and we don’t have the players capable of playing that sort of way. We accepted it last season because we saw us win a few games, but supporters are starting to get frustrated now with the way we’re playing. We’ve gone back to playing a 4-2-3-1 after starting the season off playing a 5-3-2 which just proved how tactically inept Mark Hughes is as a manager. Sadly, our poor start to the season has tarnished Hughes’s relationship with the fans after reaching the playoffs last season. We were hoping we’d kick on as a club and push for automatics, but we’ve just gone backwards. Fans have been voicing their frustration with boo’s ringing out after every half-time and full-time whistle.
How will he set up his side for Tuesday’s tie? (Tactics, starting eleven and formation) He’s likely to stick with his 4-2-3-1 with Harry Lewis in goal, Brad Halliday, Matty Platt, Sam Stubbs and Liam Ridehalgh at the back. Midfield is a tough one to pick with Alex Pattison back available. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a midfield diamond with McDonald sitting deep, with Gilliead and Pattison ahead of him, Walker in the 10 with Smith and Andy Cook up top. The diamond was used sometimes last season and worked from time to time.
Former Rovers man Andy Cook is Bradford’s top scorer with four goals in nine games whilst also assisting one. How would you describe his importance to the team and who are the other ones to watch?
Andy Cook is our most important player by far. He proved that himself with the hat trick against Newport after a month out injured. Without him, the team looked lost and toothless. Yet again, we’re relying on him to score all our goals.
Not many have stood out so far this season but I’m sure I’m speaking for every Bradford City fan when I say how impressed I’ve been with academy graduate, Bobby Pointon. He’s only started a couple of games for us so far but he seems to be a step ahead of everyone else with his quick decision-making. Pointon started his first home game live on Sky against Grimsby Town and after a shocking first half all round, he stepped up and took the second half by the scruff of its neck. I haven’t seen many players do that for us. I’ve also been impressed with Pattison, Tulloch, Stubbs and Halliday this season.
Touching on a former Rovers man, how has full-back Liam Ridehalgh been doing?
God knows how he got a contract extension in the summer. He’s far too slow for this level and he’s constantly getting beat down his side. To be fair to him, he put in a decent cross.
Bradford have been owned by German investor Stefan Rupp since 2016. Whilst there are talks of him looking for a successor, what are your thoughts on the way that he has ran the club?
It came out in the summer that he’s never invested a penny into the football club during his time here. He initially bought the club with business partner, Edin Rahic who overlooked the football side of things but after he let his ego intervene too much leading to our relegation, Rupp took over the rest of the club. He doesn’t seem interested in the club in the slightest, I don’t think he even likes football! For me, if he stays then we’re never going to get out of this division. A lot of fans keep saying that it could be a lot worse. I agree, it could be, but it could also be a lot better.
The last time Bradford and Tranmere faced each other was in mid-February, the game finished 2-0 to the hosts at Valley Parade. The Bantams won both league games against The Whites last season. Now, what are your thoughts on Nigel Adkins’ side and what’s your score prediction for the upcoming outing?
Adkins seems like a decent bloke, and he’ll know the club well. I hope he can get you winning a few games and fire you up the table. I’m going for a 1-1.
How well do you believe Bradford have started the season?
Poorly. We had high expectations after last season but recruitment was poor in the summer even though everyone from the club kept saying ‘Our aim is to go one better this year and get in those automatic spots’. Now the tunes suddenly changed.
How well do you believe the club operated in the Summer bringing in players such as former Rovers centre back Ash Taylor on a free from Kilmarnock?
We kept Andy Cook and Harry Lewis, our two best players last season which is always a positive. However, the incomings (apart from Pattison) have been underwhelming. We’ve also struggled to replace loan players Scott Banks and Romoney Crichlow who were vital at times last season.
As we’re still in the early stages of 2023-24, what are you most excited about?
Sounds very dull but our start has kind of killed any excitement we had for the season, unfortunately.
What are your ambitions?
Our aim is always to be promoted. Would be a miracle if we went up this season due to how strong the league is this season.
Tranmere are back at Prenton Park this Tuesday night against a struggling Bradford City side. The Whites have won two games this league season, both coming at home!