COLIN DOYLE admits that Bradford City’s nosedive out of League One play-off contention is an unfathomable mystery.
Part of a Bantams side who were in fifth place on New Year’s Day, the Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper is at a loss to explain a City collapse which has seen them win just once in their 15 games to leave them marooned in mid-table.
He said: “It is frustrating. I’ve never been involved in a team when the form has just collapsed.
“I have been in relegation scraps when you might stay up or not but you are always in there or thereabouts. I have also been up in the play-offs with Bradford and Birmingham when we’ve stayed up there. But I have never had a season when we have been there come Christmas and then fallen away like this.
“You go out in the street and mates are asking what is happening. It is hard to explain.
“I have seen it happen to other teams – Coventry were flying two years ago and threw it away and Gillingham as well. But nobody expected it from us. We obviously got to the play-off final last year and started so well this season.
“If we knew, we would change it in a heartbeat. We are not doing anything different.”
City at least clawed back a bit of pride in Thursday night’s televised 0-0 home draw with promotion-chasing Shrewsbury Town with a display that was vastly improved from the atrocious five-goal hammering at Blackpool.
It was a showing of character which drew praise from manager Simon Grayson, who wants the performance to serve as a template for the rest of the season.
Grayson added: “That is what we have got to do. We have got six games to go and we cannot let the standard slip.
“Regardless of the result, it does not change the philosophy. Players are still playing for this football club and playing for futures here, there and everywhere.
“But if you maintain those standards, you will win matches without a shadow of a doubt.
“There are not many times when you get a rousing round of applause at half-time and full-time when you have not won.
“All supporters want is to see a competitive team who apply themselves correctly and that is what we have done to gain the praise.”
On whether the showing was the best of his tenure thus far, he added: “I’d say so. Given the opposition as well because Shrewsbury have got some good players who know what they are doing.
“I still think the Gillingham game was the ‘best’ one because we won that. But ultimately it’s something to, hopefully, build on for the next six games.”