The Bradford Telegraph & Argus chief sports writer, Simon Parker, gives the lowdown on Pompey’s Saturday opponents Bradford...
Putting it politely, this was always going to be a season of transition, perhaps the top 10, maybe an outside chance of the play-offs.
Now the goal is League One survival.
The malaise has been ongoing since the turn of the year, the ultimate annus horribilis. Bradford have lost more games in 2018 than any other team in the top four divisions.
In the summer they completely changed the dressing room, recruiting 20 players and removing a lot of senior pros, which I think was a big mistake.
They were replaced by a lot of untapped youth, with the downward spiralling continuing.
There is currently a lot of anger directed towards chairman Edin Rahic as his policy of revolutionising this team and his ideas clearly have not worked.
The last home match was attended by 11,075 supporters, the lowest Valley Parade gate for a league match since 2013.
A lot of the public is disenchanted.
It has been 18 months since the Bantams reached the League One play-off final, where Millwall scored an 85th-minute winner.
Nat Knight-Percival is the sole survivor and the club’s longest-serving player – and he joined in July 2016.
In fact, of the squad at the start of last season, only Knight-Percival, Jake Reeves, Alex Jones, Adam Chicksen and Daniel Devine remain.
Some wanted to go, others weren’t offered terms or rejected unsatisfactory contracts.
Looking at this summer’s recruitment, there are a lot of decent players who should be doing a hell of a lot better.
You have Sean Scannell, Josh Wright, Eoin Doyle, David Ball and Jack Payne – footballers who have featured in the Championship or at League One level, whose signings were received very well at the time.
Pompey fans will be familiar with Doyle, but he has been disappointing since his arrival.
He tries hard enough, although manager David Hopkin wants a bit of a target man – only there isn’t one in the building.
Doyle has scored once from open play, while missed a shocker at Gillingham last weekend when the ball hit his standing leg three-yards out.
Payne has played well in fits and starts, Richard O’Donnell has been the most consistent performer and young Lewis O’Brien in midfield, on loan from Huddersfield, gets on the ball and is not afraid to make mistakes.
Hopkin is actually Bradford’s fourth manager in 2018.
Stuart McCall was sacked in February, while replacement Simon Grayson won three games and declined a two-year deal at the end of the season in favour of staying unemployed.
Next was Michael Collins, an under-18s coach who hadn’t even applied for the job.
He lasted six games before sacked in September – now it’s Hopkin.
Bradford have lost six-straight games in all competitions and not registered a point when the opposition have scored first this season.
It has been an awful 2018.