Bradford City’s festive week is one of stark contrasts, from running out in front of the third tier’s biggest crowd in almost 40 years to visiting one of the more homely League One grounds.
What will not change, however, is the Bantams’ reliance on a loan quartet who have become key figures at Valley Parade this season.
Credit to the staff and the players here, none of our four loans have looked to do that. The positive attitude we have got around the place has helped hugely.David Hopkin
Much has been said about last summer’s recruitment by Bradford, but the temporary acquisitions of Huddersfield Town duo Lewis O’Brien and Jack Payne, Middlesbrough striker George Miller, and David Ball, the Rotherham United forward, have proved to be inspired.
Payne is top scorer with eight goals, O’Brien already the firm favourite to be Player of the Year, while both Miller and Ball have become first picks during the recent run that has breathed fresh life into City’s season.
“The easiest thing in the world when on loan at a club bottom of the league is to look to get back to your club,” said manager David Hopkin, fresh from City’s 1-0 defeat in front of a 46,039 crowd at Sunderland on Boxing Day.
“But, credit to the staff and the players here, none of our four loans have looked to do that. The positive attitude we have got around the place has helped hugely.
“The mindset has changed hugely and the four loan players have been giving everything for Bradford City.”
Relying on loan players does carry danger, of course. A parent club can trigger a recall clause in January and City would be able to do little about it if that happens next month.
Hopkin added: “It is the risk you take with loans. You are in a Catch-22 situation, as if they do well then others may want them.
“Our four loans have done well and have really bought into what we do. They are all tactically aware and are a big part of what we do.
“Jack is slightly different to the others (in that his contract at Huddersfield is up next summer), but he has expressed a desire to stay. He is enjoying his football, as they all seem to be.”