EVEN allowing for the upturn in performances over their last two outings, Bradford City seem unlikely to gatecrash the play-offs.
A seven-point deficit that is virtually eight thanks to the Bantams’ woeful goal difference has all but ended hopes of a third consecutive tilt at the end-of-season promotion deciders.
This, though, does not mean there is little but pride to play for in these remaining five fixtures with manager Simon Grayson believing how this campaign ends can have potential ramifications for the club’s recruitment plans in the summer.
“I genuinely believe it will do,” said the Bantams chief when asked by The Yorkshire Post if a strong finish really does matter in the grand scheme of things if a top-six place is out of reach.
“It will get a feel-good vibe back at the club and be easier to attract players to come here when you finish the season well.
“It is all right saying it is a big club and there are a large number who come through the gates. But if you lose the last five people may think it is not as good as it is made out to be.
“Win three or four out of the last six, though, and players will come because they think it has got a genuine chance of things happening next year if we don’t get to the play-offs.”
Grayson, for his part, has not given up on reaching the play-offs.
Victory today at Rochdale would set City up for a trio of eminently winnable home games against Milton Keynes Dons, Southend United and Walsall before the campaign ends with a trip to Scunthorpe United, the side currently sitting sixth in the table.
If that, however, proves to be beyond Bradford then the 48-year-old, whose own future remains up in the air, is determined that the campaign will end on a high.
“It would have been difficult for everyone to take if Blackpool (where City lost 5-0 a fortnight ago) had been our last game,” he added.
“You would be sitting over the summer months wanting to put what went wrong right and you can’t do it for another three months.
“Players you were trying to attract would also probably go somewhere else because they would think it doesn’t seem to be right at Bradford.
“We want to finish positively, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Today’s trip to Spotland offers an opportunity to end a quite catastrophic slump in form on the road. On New Year’s Day, City boasted the best away record in the entire Football League with 29 points from 13 games.
Since then, however, eight road trips have yielded just one point, while the last four have seen the Bantams fail to score.
“We have not turned up for long parts,” admitted Grayson about the away form.
“We have been too easy to play against.
“We capitulated at Blackpool, which we shouldn’t do. We need to put in a solid away performance, play to the shape of the team and be hard to beat. We can win the game.”