Stuart McCall, three years in the Valley Parade hotseat, welcomes Dario Gradi, 26 years as supremo at Gresty Road as his team looks to make it 11 unbeaten.
Since those opening four games in which we failed to score a goal the Bantams have been in fine form. Five games away and three at home have seen a 16 point haul.
Arguably we have given away 6 points (against Burton, Barnet and Northampton) but if you average 2 points a game then come May there will be dancing in the streets of Bradford.
Crewe would love to be able to talk about 10 game unbeaten streaks having had a disjointed start to the season that has seen managerial changes and a reverting to the steady and wise hands of Dario Gradi.
Currently the Railwaymen sit 17th with 12 points and have, somehow, managed to concede more goals than the Bantams. In their last three outings today’s visitors have shipped 11 goals whilst scoring 7 themselves.
Should be an entertaining game…
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Bradford City Team News:
Gareth Evans will sit out the final of his three game bans meaning that Peter Thorne might get a chance to return to action.
Michael Boulding’s two goals in two games mean that he has benefited from Evans’ suspension and will start. James Hanson should have shaken off the virus that has kept him laid low for the last week so he will be vying with Peter Thorne (who we shouldn’t forget is our captain) to partner Boulding.
In midfield it is unlikely that Stuart will tinker meaning Michael Flynn, Lee Bullock, James O’Brien and Scott Neilson will play. Whether Steve O’Leary ever gets an opportunity to batten down a place at the club we don’t know but, like Omar Daley, it gives him the opportunity to return to full fitness.
In defence Simon Ramsden may get restored to the lineup at the expense of Jon Bateson. Not that the younger man has done anything wrong but Stuart may choose to go with experience over youth as we attempt to solidify our backline. Luke O’Brien will be at left back alongside Zesh Rehman and Steve Williams, rested in midweek.
Simon Eastwood will keep goal.
Player to watch: Michael Boulding
He’s asked for game time, he’s got it and he’s used it to score goals. Under the glare of a crowded Valley Parade (surely there will be a boost from our recent form) can he prove his doubters wrong?
Crewe Alexandra Team News:
Former Bradford City players Steven Schumacher and Ashley Westwood [Edit: it’s a different Ashley Westwood!]may get a run out at their old stomping ground.
Midfielder Luke Murphy is a doubt after damaging his knee ligaments in last week’s defeat against Rotherham.
Dario Gradi has a number of players to call on in Danny Shelley, Byron Moore or Ashley Westwood.
Up front, striker Billy Jones is available after suspension.
Player to watch: Steven Schumacher
Schuie upset a lot of people during his final appearance for the Bantams, the gut wrenching 3-0 defeat at Chesterfield (officiated by Carl Boyeson, today’s referee) that rounded off the 2006/07 season.
He was released by Stuart McCall but his interview with the T&A this week speaks of a player hoping to be remembered for what preceded the wheels coming off.
“I don`t really know what the crowd will be like but I`m expecting a bit of a mixed bag because the way it ended wasn`t great.
“My reaction to one single fan behind the goal at Chesterfield wasn`t something I was proud of but it was just one of those things borne out of frustration. Maybe a few people will remember that but I`d like to think they will see that I played a lot of games for Bradford so I was obviously doing something right for the team.”
In that difficult position of being expected to emulate Stuart McCall (see also Tom Kearney, Paul McLaren), Schumacher was a solid part of the Todd era. I hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us
Match Facts & Stats
Dagenham & Redbridge next Saturday in London