Resurgence of rivals Rotherham United offers hope for Bradford City, says Doyle

BOUNCING BACK: Returning Bradford City goalkeeper Colin Doyle believes the Bantams can retain their place in the play-off places. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
BOUNCING BACK: Returning Bradford City goalkeeper Colin Doyle believes the Bantams can retain their place in the play-off places. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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COLIN DOYLE was one of the first Bradford City players to take to social media in the wake of Stuart McCall’s dismissal this week.

“Gutted about the gaffer. Great manager and a fantastic man – a pleasure working under him,” was the goalkeeper’s verdict, a sentiment shared by many at Valley Parade.

Doyle had only returned to the side on Saturday after a knee injury so was just a frustrated spectator for most of the six-game losing run that, ultimately, cost McCall his job.

But the 32-year-old Irishman recognises as well as anyone just how small the margins can be in League One between a side flourishing or floundering.

Rotherham United are the big example Doyle points to as justification for why he believes Bradford’s season can yet be turned round by a team that, for all the struggles of the past month, remains in the play-off places.

“Things can change very quickly in football,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “We played Rotherham recently (losing 2-0 on January 23) and they didn’t win in a lot of games earlier this season.

“They were struggling and fell all the way to 12th place or something like that. But now Rotherham are flying and unbeaten in 10 games.

“That just shows how a flip of a coin can change everything. Rotherham beat Blackpool to end the winless run and now look at them.”

The Millers sit a place above City in the table on the back of a 10-game unbeaten run that has yielded 24 points.

As Doyle rightly states, the December 9 victory over the Seasiders at the New York Stadium sparked the turnaround after United had previously gone eight league games without a win.

SACKED: Bradford City manager boss Stuart McCall left the club on Monday. Picture: Tony Johnson.

SACKED: Bradford City manager boss Stuart McCall left the club on Monday. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Even that 2-1 triumph over Blackpool came after the visitors had led for 55 minutes before David Ball hit a late double to secure a precious victory.

Without Ball’s late intervention in the final 15 minutes, the gap between Rotherham in what would have been 16th place and fourth-placed Bradford would have stood at 13 points.

As it was, that dramatic late triumph sparked a remarkable turnaround that, just two months on, sees City trail their rivals down the M1 by two points, having played a game more.

Nevertheless, Rotherham’s charge up the table offers hope for sides such as the Bantams, who seem stuck in a rut right now.

That just shows how a flip of a coin can change everything. Rotherham beat Blackpool to end the winless run and now look at them.”

“That is what we have to remember,” added Doyle, one of McCall’s first signings after returning to Valley Parade in the summer of 2016.

“There have been a few late goals along the way (for Rotherham) and that shows how fine the margins can be.

“Obviously it is easier saying it than doing it, but we have worked hard as a group and believe we can turn this around.

“We fancy ourselves in this division. Just look at some of the results we have had. Our away record was second to none not so long ago.

“Obviously, that hasn’t been the case lately, but we have the potential. The additions look top players, too. That gives us a bit of a boost.”

In McCall’s absence, Kenny Black took training yesterday as the club began the search for a new manager.

All manner of names have been linked with the post, from Simon Grayson, who boasts four promotions from League One on his CV, through to current head of recruitment Greg Abbott plus several candidates from Germany.

Early suggestions that former Stuttgart chief Hannes Wolf was in the running are wide of the mark, but there is understood to have been plenty of interest.

It is a big decision for co-owners Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp as this season is still very much alive going into Saturday’s home game with bottom club Bury.

Black’s priority remains preparing the players for that meeting with the Shakers. Doyle is likely to be one of the first names on the team-sheet after returning from a 14-game absence in last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Oldham Athletic.

“It was frustrating to be out so long,” said the Irishman about his time out with a knee injury that he sustained in the 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe United on November 21.

“I know injuries are part and parcel of the game, but it doesn’t make things any easier when on the sidelines.

“It was an innocuous thing that I did, I just thought it was a whack and not that bad. But the scan showed it was a bad tear in my ligament.

“I still went to a lot of the games and, at first, we were going well. The results were still good, but lately they haven’t been good enough.

“The players that are here got us into this position. We haven’t lost that ability. We know we are good enough to get where we want to be.

“What we are lacking is consistency. Confidence is a big help so we just need that bit of luck, a scrappy 1-0 or maybe a winner going in off someone’s backside, and then everything changes.”