Bradford City v Peterborough United: Cup run can revive City's fortunes

BRADFORD CITY manager David Hopkin points to his own playing career with Chelsea as proof that a decent FA Cup run can boost a club's quest to stave off relegation.

Bantams manager David Hopkin (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The Bantams are looking to secure a third-round trip to Middlesbrough by beating Peterborough United in tonight’s replay at Valley Parade.

With City having endured such a rotten 2018, glad tidings have been thin on the ground at a club who have been propping up League One for the past six weeks. But Hopkin insists progress in the Cup at the expense of Steve Evans’s side can only help when the focus returns to league action this weekend via the first instalment of a key home double-header against Walsall and Scunthorpe United, managed by Stuart McCall.

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“I was at Chelsea when we reached the final in 1994,” said the former Scottish international to The Yorkshire Post.

“I played up until the quarter-finals, but then missed out in the final because of the rules back then that stated only three foreigners could be in the team. I missed out due to being Scottish; crazy when you think about it.

“I played three times at Wembley in my career, but not in the Cup final. It was disappointing to miss out as we lost 4-0 (to double winners Manchester United).

“But it was a fantastic achievement for Chelsea at that time. I think we were struggling in the bottom three of the Premier League for most of the season.

“That Cup run kept us up and got us away from where we were. It shows how you can take great belief into the league from positive results, especially in the FA Cup.

“Everyone wants to go as far as they can plus financially, if we get through this tie, then it is a bigger pot of money for the club.”

Chelsea went on to finish 14th in the Premier League at the end of the season that saw the club reach the Cup final for the first time since 1970.

But Glenn Hoddle’s side were in the relegation zone as the run to Wembley got under way just after the turn of the year.

Hopkin is hoping for a similar bounce for City on the back of safely negotiating tonight’s replay, something that would earn the West Riding club £54,000 in prize money plus a future share of gate receipts from the trip to the Riverside in the next round.

The Bradford chief has been encouraged in recent weeks by not only results – his side have lost just once in six outings – but also what he senses to be a much-improved atmosphere among his players.

He puts the latter down to the squad’s trip to London in the immediate aftermath of the 2-2 draw with Peterborough for their Christmas party.

“The club had a plan in the summer about what it wanted to try and do,” said Hopkin about the recruitment of 20 new faces since the summer.

“If it works it is like genius. If it does not you end up where we are in the league. The boys have not really gelled.

“They have not had any nights out or golf days since I have been here, so I thought it was important.

“A lot of people see Christmas nights out as a distraction, but for us it was a bonding session and I can definitely see a difference in the players.

“It was important we did it early, at the beginning of December. Most clubs will leave it until December 18 or 19, but we have got five or six really important games.

“I can feel the difference in the lads since the night out. They have been bouncing. They went out and maybe people who did not speak to each other or know each other had a laugh and a joke.

“Even on the bus coming back from Plymouth last Saturday I was seeing people talk to each other who maybe did not before.

“From my perspective it is strange we have got a lot of players who live in different areas and travel for two or three hours. In Scotland everyone was within 20 minutes of each other so that camaraderie was easier to create.”

Tonight will see City look to get one over a manager who has proved something of a nemesis down the years with Evans yet to lose any of his nine meetings with the Yorkshire club as a manager.

Asked whether he felt he got under the skin of Evans ten days ago when the Scots exchanged words on the touchline, the City manager said: “I do not think I am the only one.

“Steve and his assistant (Paul Raynor) are passionate and they want to win games.

“Sometimes a lot of (rival) coaching staffs will laugh and joke, but Steve is like a pantomime villain. You either love him or you hate him.

“I have got a lot of respect for him and I like the way he goes about things.

“He has also always had good teams. But sometimes he does take things to the edge.”

Last six games: Bradford City DDWLDD Peterborough United DDWDWD.

Referee: R Joyce (Cleveland).

Last time: Bradford City 1 Peterborough United 3; December 26, 2017; League One.