“IF you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Three days before the end of the transfer window and the words of Winston Churchill on a card took pride of place on David Hopkin’s office desk at the City training ground.

As mission statements go, it aptly sums up the task he accepted on returning to his former club at the start of September.

The job was tough then – possibly harder than he had imagined – and remains a stiff challenge, even now when the Bantams have dragged themselves back into the mix to stay up.

But you sense a steely determination to get to grips with an assignment that, when conquered, could provide as much satisfaction as anything he has achieved in a life in football.

Hopkin was bullish, in a positive way, when we met again at City’s Woodhouse Grove base yesterday to pick through the bones of the previous month’s activity.

He now knows what he has got to play with for the remaining 16 games in City’s struggle for League One survival.

Jacob Butterfield and Billy Clarke came in on deadline day to take the January tally to five new recruits. Just as significantly, six have gone to ensure that ins and outs have balanced financially.

With Stefan Rupp having to pick up a post-Edin Rahic tab now estimated to be close on £2 million in losses for the year, Hopkin has been happy to adopt the prudent approach clearly lacking in the previous window.

It meant not going to the owner for extra cash when a potential striker target suddenly became available on Thursday night. The City boss is well prepared to operate within limits, even if it meant forgoing the required transfer fee.

Clarke’s return, while cheered by many fans, then raised the inevitable concerns about the lack of a “big man” up front.

It was an argument that Hopkin was well prepared for – and pointed to the lack of inches in his previous team at Livingston.

He said: “I keep being reminded of the same thing.

“When I was in Scotland, a lot of people had a misconception.

“I never had a target man in two years at Livvy and we got two promotions.

“We’re getting carried away when sometimes the ball may go a bit longer and people think you’re playing long-ball football. I’ve never played it.

“You see my record in Scotland. For two years, my two strikers were 5ft 9in.

“Everybody wants a target man and we tried very hard to get strikers in. But it’s a very difficult window.

“You have teams in our league who have really struggled. Even with the players we were interested in, clubs at the top can pay two or three times the money to get them in.

“It’s a window where I’m happy. Touch wood, it’s not a case that we’ve struggled to score goals.

“If we drew 0-0 every week or were only winning 1-0 then it would have been a bigger priority than it was.

“But we’ve seen we have got players who can score goals and I’m sure those I’ve brought in can add to that as well.

“Our attacking players can all complement each other. We’ve probably got a nucleus of seven or eight players now where you can change the front five.”

Money matters will be part of the City fabric now – at least until Olly McBurnie’s sell-on clause can be cashed in from a big-money move for the free-scoring Scotland international.

But Hopkin is determined that will not affect standards on or off the pitch.

January has been tough as the inevitable speculation hampers the focus for urgent league points.

George Miller, he admitted, had been distracted in the lead-up to his move to Barnsley. But City still managed to engineer the situation to ensure the young forward stays put until the summer.

Hopkin believes the club have come out the other side in a better shape – with players who are beginning to see a difference.

“January is always a tough month to get players in,” he added. “But it’s even harder trying to move them out.

“We’ve worked hard, not really spent any money in the transfer window and brought in players who have managed to make us stronger as a squad.

“The players know what we are trying to build at the club. Everything can play a part.

“Even those who have left have phoned and thanked me because they’ve seen a difference.

“I think everyone has noticed the progress in the last few months. It’s not going to be a short-term plan but we’ll get there slowly.”