FOR many a New Year’s Day hangover is as traditional a part of the annual celebrations as Big Ben’s chimes and joining hands to sing Auld Lang Syne.
Bradford City, however, have done things rather differently for the past two years.
Only after kicking off both 2018 and 2019 with victories that suggested a happy and prosperous 12 months lay ahead have the Bantams succumbed to a bout of the shakes so spectacular that supporters have been the ones left with a splitting headache.
Last year City conspired to lose five consecutive league games in the immediate aftermath of a January 1 triumph at Fleetwood Town that had seemed to strengthen the club’s grip on a play-off place.
Manager Stuart McCall paid with his job for the collapse in form and Simon Grayson, a League One promotion specialist if ever there was one, was unable to halt the slide after being drafted in on a short-term deal.
This time around a resounding win over Accrington Stanley meant 2019 started in the best possible fashion as Bradford escaped the relegation zone to suggest a line had been drawn under the horrors of autumn.
Once again, though, this New Year’s Day victory proved to be a false dawn with the following eight games having yielded just one victory – and even that came courtesy of a ‘95th’ minute winner by David Ball against Shrewsbury Town.
City have also failed to score in five of those outings, while Saturday’s defeat against a Walsall side down to ten men for 84 minutes proved the final straw for David Hopkin.
His reign came to an end yesterday after just 175 days to leave the League One club searching for what will be their fifth manager in a little over a year.
Yesterday’s development came as a big surprise considering Hopkin’s recent insistence on the training ground getting a facelift with images of Valley Parade and the club badge.
Even allowing for his obvious frustration with how badly things went awry against ten-man Walsall on Saturday, here seemed to be a man keen to lay down managerial roots.
Still, football moves on quickly and there will be no shortage of interest in succeeding Hopkin.
Personally, I would love to see Paul Hurst or Gary Bowyer handed the reins, but the board seem intent on either making a short-term appointment until the end of the season or hoping caretaker manager Martin Drury can inspire a turnaround.
Whoever gets the nod it is to be hoped the players have spent the past 24 hours taking a long, hard look at themselves and now realise they are capable of so much more.
Even allowing for his obvious frustration with how badly things went awry against ten-man Walsall on Saturday, here seemed to be a man keen to lay down managerial roots.Richard Sutcliffe
The squad may lack balance following a summer spending spree with Edin Rahic at the helm that seemed to possess no more rhyme nor reason than targeting players who had previously impressed against Bradford.
But there is sufficient quality left behind by Hopkin to suggest Bradford should be nowhere near the wrong end of League One.
The recovery of just a solitary point from a losing position in 34 games points to a group that lacks either character or the stomach for a fight. Or both.
Such a record does not bode well for a final dozen games that will decide the fate of a club already facing a £2m annual loss.
City fans may think they are hurting right now, but relegation is likely to bring a hangover so severe that it will take more than a couple of paracetamol to clear.