Bradford (Park Avenue) had become synonymous with Mark Bower and Danny Boshell after their seven years in charge, broken up by a very brief spell away in 2019.

But with the pair sacked earlier this month, as the club hurtled towards the Northern Premier League Premier Division drop zone, staring a second successive relegation in the face, the BD6 side have to prepare for a brave new dawn for the first time in a long while.

And it’s no exaggeration to say the club’s next appointment could shape their whole future.

Avenue have explicitly stated that they’d like any new manager to take on something of a hybrid role, whereby they are still the first-team head coach, but have one and a half feet in the academy set-up, as they look to help technical director Tom McStravick bring the next generation of talented footballers through at Horsfall.

It is a huge undertaking for any prospective candidate, but one which will surely be fulfilling, especially if they can help both the first-team and academy to great success.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Liam Hall (1) made his name in Avenue's academy and broke into the first team, before earning a big move to Wrexham this summer.Liam Hall (1) made his name in Avenue's academy and broke into the first team, before earning a big move to Wrexham this summer. (Image: Alex Daniel.)

While the NPL Premier Division club might have been a bit hyperbolic on social media earlier this week, tooting about “huge interest in from across the globe” for the vacant position, there are positive noises coming from director of football Martin Knight in these early stages of the search process.

He told the T&A last Friday that nearly 50 candidates had applied for the top job, including some “surprise names”, with the club confirming the other day that people have thrown their hat in the ring who have experience in the EFL, and even in the Austrian top-flight.

Lucas Odunston is confident too.

The young Avenue right-back is only 23, but he was made captain in Avenue’s 2-1 defeat at Gainsborough Trinity last weekend, in the absence of the suspended Mitch Lund.

Odunston has not always had it easy in his career, having fallen short of making the first-team grade at Leeds and Hull, before having to come to terms with the physicality of non-league.

But since joining Avenue in 2021, he has become a key figure in the team, and is closing in on 100 appearances for the club.

Odunston speaks with a maturity beyond his years, which he showed in an interview with the T&A earlier this week.

Not only did he give a fascinating insight into life at Avenue, both now and under Bower and Boshell, but he was also happy to be asked about the ongoing managerial situation, while insisting all he and his team-mates can really focus on is what goes on on the pitch.

He told us: “I don’t get involved in the politics of it, but I’m sure they will pick the right person for the job.

“We’ve got to play well and start taking our chances, focusing on doing better in second halves and picking some points up in the next couple of games.

“We’re raring to go.”

Bower very much had to be the face of the club on the ground, with Knight and owner Gareth Roberts both living abroad, though the former in particular is a regular visitor to Horsfall.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Bower (right) had his hands full as Avenue boss, yet still did so much for his players, especially youngsters finding their feet in the game.Mark Bower (right) had his hands full as Avenue boss, yet still did so much for his players, especially youngsters finding their feet in the game. (Image: John Rhodes.)

While neither are by any means recluses, and will give their take on club matters when needed, the new manager will be at the top of the organisation when it comes to who to speak to face to face and who carries the can in the UK.

That means a lot of external pressure from fans and media alike, not just internal pressure of getting both first team and academy firing on all cylinders.

Whether he was ever in Avenue’s thoughts or not, I feel that their loss is neighbours Bradford City’s gain.

Knowing his background in football, and in West Yorkshire, it struck me that Neil Redfearn would have been the perfect candidate for the vacant manager’s job at Horsfall.

The 58-year-old only re-affirmed my opinion on that when he gave his welcome interview to the Bantams last week after being unveiled as their new lead professional development phase coach.

In it, Redfearn said: “I have got good experience from my time at other clubs in similar roles. We have some fantastic young players on our books and it is a good time to try and bring that talent to the fore, which I am excited to be a part of. 

“The experience of having one foot in the academy and another in the first team, as I did at Newcastle United and Leeds United, will help. It is good to have your own identity and always nice to have your own players in the first team.

“It was only a few weeks ago I was on the grass helping out at Oldham Athletic, and this is a challenge that really excites me. This is a big club in its history and tradition, and we want to give these boys the opportunity to kick on and further their careers.”

That is the exact aim Avenue have, as they look to bring the next Myles La Bastide or Liam Hall through the ranks.

But at the same time, the first team cannot be neglected, with a second successive relegation a real possibility.

No disrespect to all of these clubs, but Avenue should have their sights set higher than facing neighbours like Campion, Albion Sports and Brighouse Town, which could soon be their reality.

It was only four years ago that Avenue were a couple of play-off games away from reaching the National League, and establishing the club back in the sixth tier, or even the fifth tier, of English football has to be the on-field priority.

Avenue sound like they have a strong list of candidates to pick from, even if Redfearn won’t be one of them, but they know just how important it is to bring in THE perfect person at this critical stage in the club’s journey.