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Bantams fans can scratch those thoughts of a seven-year itch
During the trials and tribulations of the 2006-07 season, City had to sell their top scorer, Dean Windass, and their best winger, Jermaine Johnson (pictured)
It was on this weekend seven years ago that Bradford City dropped below the dreaded line.
Second-half goals from Billy Sharp and Jermaine Beckford were enough for Scunthorpe to push the Bantams into the bottom four for the first time.
Cheltenham leapfrogged over them and out of the League One/First Division drop zone with a win over Leyton Orient to leave four doomed clubs who would remain there until the bitter end.
“Where’s your Windass gone?” taunted the Glanford Park faithful as a toothless City once more fired blanks without their recently-departed marksman.
Just to rub their noses in it, Dean Windass had scored a hat-trick that day for Hull against Southend.
Now fast forward to the other night when City failed to muster a single attempt on target to relieve the boredom of Walsall goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell.
Meanwhile, Nahki Wells was netting his fourth goal in Huddersfield colours – bending a beauty from the edge of the box.
For the nervous types, there are too many similarities with the club’s last relegation and the current goings on for comfort.
Think back to the fast start to the season when City were flying in fourth spot and the only way they looked like leaving this division was through the front door into the Championship.
Giddy thoughts were in overdrive as they racked up an impressive 21 points from the first ten games.
Two defeats later and that tally and league position exactly mirrored the autumn of 2006.
Injuries were about to bite that Colin Todd team; ditto as Andrew Davies declared defeat with his troublesome knee and went under the knife – an operation that would keep him out for nearly four months.
Then came the infamous double deal of January 2007 as Windass and Jermaine Johnson were hustled out of Valley Parade to save the club from another financial meltdown. The wages could be paid at least but the heavy cost proved to be a ticket to the bottom division.
Now we have the scenario where Phil Parkinson, like Todd and then reluctant caretaker David Wetherall, can no longer call on his top scorer. His Johnson-type left winger Kyel Reid is also out of the equation with his season-ending cruciate injury.
And more and more loans have “entered the building”, with Huddersfield’s Jon Stead the latest of the seven currently borrowed from elsewhere. Spencer Weir-Daley anyone?
For the “half empty” types – and I’ve heard it touched on in high circles around the club more than once – the coincidences keep on stacking up.
But is history really repeating itself? Is City’s first season back in the third tier seemingly pre-determined to pan out like their last? Nope, I can’t see it.
True, there have been a few too many flashback moments over a season that began with such a bang but has been whimpering out ever since. But to suggest that all the cards are already stacked against them is simply mumbo jumbo.
City’s position ahead of this afternoon’s tricky date at Leyton Orient is not a secure one but neither is it tottering nervously on the precipice like the class of ’07.
Six points and five teams currently separate the Bantams from fourth bottom. That cushion still has some stuffing in it.
Ideally, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. When Davies “tackled” the ball over the line at Shrewsbury a week ago, City were sitting as pretty as a dire game on a bitterly-cold afternoon would allow.
The finish line of mid-table stability was within touching distance... only to morph into a mirage as a team who had forgotten how to win at home suddenly regained their memory with two late goals in response.
If that was careless, Tuesday night was downright awful. So now City contemplate a trip to third place today with rather less conviction.
Fifty points is always seen as the safety mark and since Torquay were relegated on 51 in 2005, only two teams have clocked up their half century and not survived.
Gillingham were the last to go down with 50 in 2010. In the three seasons following, the team occupying 21st have finished on 47, 43 and 48. On average over the last decade, 49 points has been enough to beat the drop.
There is no indication that this season will be much different, which leaves City needing to find another four/five points from the last eight games – or two wins to be doubly sure.
It proved too tall an order in ’07 when City could manage only one victory at Brighton and six points from the final two months.
But that was then and this is now.
There is plenty to be addressed in the summer. With so many contracts up, change will happen. Recruitment needs to improve on last summer to ensure the club can maintain forward momentum.
Like anything, you learn from the past but you don’t have to copy it. History is not guaranteed to repeat itself.
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