BRADFORD CITY manager David Hopkin is confident that the return of former chairman Julian Rhodes will help transform the fortunes of the League One strugglers – and bring the embattled club back together again.
Rhodes has returned to the Bantams on a consultancy basis after a plea for help from chairman and co-owner Edin Rahic – and attended the club’s FA Cup weekend draw at Aldershot.
The result ended a horrendous sequence of seven successive losses in all competitions for City, who are propping up the third tier and are seven points adrift of safety after an atrocious start to 2018-19.
Hopkin, whose side visit Yorkshire rivals Barnsley in a Checkatrade Trophy Group F encounter this evening, is hopeful that the draw can serve as a turning point in the club’s ailing season.
Off the pitch, he believes that the arrival of Rhodes, who previously spent 19 years on the board at the club before he and Mark Lawn sold to the current owners in May, 2016, will also prove a significant development in City’s campaign.
Hopkin has already held discussions with Rhodes regarding transfer plans in January, with the Scot impressed by the way in which he has already made proactive moves to heal the divisions between supporters and the club’s under-fire hierarchy.
Julian’s arrival has had a positive effect. I met him last week and he is a bubbly character and great to have about the place.David Hopkin
Fans have been offered free coach travel to Saturday’s League One game at promotion-chasing Peterborough United, with a £1 ticket deal having previously been announced for the home game with Oxford United on November 24 – as the club seek to build bridges.
Hopkin told The Yorkshire Post: “Julian’s arrival has had a positive effect. I met him last week and he is a bubbly character and great to have about the place. Everyone knows he is a massive Bradford fan and has co-owned the club before.
“It is a positive step and a great thing that Edin and Stefan (Rupp) have done. It is important we get everyone together and make sure we try and push forward to get away from where we are. We can see signs of it and the fans will play a massive part in where we end up. They have got to stick with us. Hopefully, we can keep them on board as they have been fantastic since I have been here. We have got to make sure that everything we do now is positive.
“I am sure Julian and Edin will have a great working relationship and every time I have spoken to them, there have been positive meetings.
“The free travel offer is fantastic and, hopefully, we will get as many Bradford fans going to the game as we can. Then, there is the Oxford game at home where we let people in for a pound.
“Hopefully, these things will have a snowball effect and we can start picking up results and get that continuity with the club which we definitely need at this moment in time.”
City’s woes looked like continuing unabated at a rain-lashed Aldershot on Saturday, with the National League outfit scenting a Cup shock after taking an interval lead, only for the visitors to draw strength out of adversity and hit back and force a replay in a 1-1 draw.
With players slowly returning to the fold, with Jim O’Brien and Danny Devine making their comebacks from injury from the bench at Aldershot, Hopkin has been provided with further succour – with Adam Chicksen also now available again following suspension.
Hopkin added: “The players showed great character at Aldershot and we should probably have won the game. It was one of those games where you think that, hopefully, it will be a turning point.
“I saw a lot of batting qualities and good quality on a pitch which was very difficult.
“It was good to see both Jim and Danny come back and we have a few players coming back now, which gives me a few more options than I have had.
“Every game is important for us just now as we are trying to get players back and a run together.
“I remember when we had a good performance against Sunderland and then played Oldham in the Checkatrade Trophy and we did not have enough (fit) players and had to play kids.
“Hopefully this time, we have got a stronger squad and players coming back and we can give them valuable game-time. What I cannot afford now are many more injuries.”
The return of experienced midfielder O’Brien, whose leadership credentials have already come to the fore in his short time at the club, is likely to be particularly well received by Hopkin, mindful of the club’s predicament.
On the impact of O’Brien, who returns to one of his former clubs at Oakwell tonight, he said: “It was a massive plus to see him coming back at Aldershot.
“Even though he only played 20 to 25 minutes, he showed that appetite and desire in winning a few tackles and keeping the ball for us. He is an important player and a character in the dressing room.”