Salford City v Bradford City: Graham Alexander unsure what approach to expect from his old club

Planning for Salford City will be difficult on Saturday, which gives manager Graham Alexander a good excuse to focus on Bradford City.

Alexander knows the Ammies well, despite not having taken a team to Moor Lane since managing them between 2018 and 2020.

He says they have two completely separate ways of playing as they go in search of the victory that will officially confirm their place in next season's League Two, and does not know which he will see. It could easily be both.

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Alexander says it hangs on whether Matt Smith leads the line or not. The 34-year-old former Leeds United striker has played in all of their last five matches, but only started two. He kicked off the 1-1 draw at Valley Parade in January.

UNCERTAINTIES: Bradford City manager Graham Alexander does not really know what to expect from Salford CityUNCERTAINTIES: Bradford City manager Graham Alexander does not really know what to expect from Salford City
UNCERTAINTIES: Bradford City manager Graham Alexander does not really know what to expect from Salford City

“We played Salford not long after Karl (Robinson) took over,” said Alexander. “They are very physical, very aggressive and gave us a very tough game.

“We were not sure how they were going to approach it. They have two different approaches, really.

“One is when Smith plays up top, and they have a very physical presence up there.

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“But, if he does not play, they have a lot of very mobile players who can play, and could go about their business in a different fashion. The biggest thing for me is how we play.”

Alexander was sacked by trigger-happy Salford four years ago, a decision co-owner Gary Neville later admitted was a bad one.

“It always means something, returning to a club you have previously played for or managed,” said Alexander.

“I have not been back there as a manager since I left.

“It will be good to go back, but as soon as that whistle goes it is the same for everyone – we want to win.”

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Despite what the mathematicians might say, the reality is there is little riding on this game in terms of both clubs' immediate futures. Salford are nine points clear of the relegation zone and although 23rd Colchester United would still have the games in hand to catch them if they won on Saturday, Sutton United in 22nd would not.

Bradford are eight points outside the play-offs with four games to play and five teams to clamber over, including Harrogate Town and Doncaster Rovers.

The waning incentive could effectively end Sam Stubbs and Alex Pattison's seasons.

“Sam and Alex have been out for quite a while, so we need to give them the opportunity to be fully ready to play again," said Alexander.

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“There are only a few games left of the season, and there’s a sort of protocol around rehabilitating players.

“We’re probably unlikely to see Sam or Alex before the end of the season though.

“To push somebody really hard for maybe one or two games at the end of the season when the reward might not be that great, the level of risk is too much.

“They’re out on the training pitch with us sporadically, but I think it’ll be too much of a push for them to be available again before the end of the season.

“If there were different circumstances, the risk might be worth it.”

Jake Young is the only other Bantams player definitely ruled out at the weekend through injury.

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