MANAGER David Hopkin’s work ethic is driving Bradford City’s League One survival bid, according to interim chief executive Julian Rhodes.
The Bantams host Fleetwood Town today looking to bolster their attempts to escape the relegation zone.
City are one of a dozen sides separated by just seven points, a position the club would have gratefully accepted during an autumn that looked like cutting them adrift after a woeful start that saw the opening 17 games yield just 10 points.
Hopkin, drafted in to replace Michael Collins in September, has helped spark a major upturn in form since mid-November and Rhodes believes the Scot deserves plenty of praise.
“David works so hard,” the City chief told The Yorkshire Post. “That is the main thing you need in your manager. He cares as well. To be a successful manager you need both, in my opinion.
“The way he has got the lads fitter has been important, too. We are seeing that pay dividends now, such as against Shrewsbury when we won it in stoppage-time.
“He is just what the club needed after such a difficult time.”
City’s improvement in form coincided with Rhodes answering an SOS call from owner Stefan Rupp to return to Valley Parade and take charge of day-to-day business.
Much still needs to be done if the Bantams are to reach safety, but Rhodes feels the belief instilled in the camp by Hopkin will prove to be telling.
“What encouraged me most about that last home game was how the players reacted to the equaliser in stoppage-time,” he said about the 4-3 victory over Shrewsbury a fortnight ago.
“I was as disappointed as anyone at us losing a two-goal lead, but I looked out and sensed straight away they were going to put it right.
“There were only a couple of minutes left, but they were desperate to get play under way again. That is the kind of determination we are going to need.”
As for the run-in, Rhodes added: “The key when I came back was working with David to ensure we had a chance of survival. We are in with a shout now.
“Sure we are still in the bottom four, but we have dragged a lot of clubs back towards us by taking 22 points from the last 14 games.
“That is the sort of form that would have us in the top six and not the bottom four if maintained across the full season.”