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A Decade in Short - a Bradford City story


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As Joe Westhead completes his tenth year in charge of Bradford City, BBC Sport looks back at the emotional decade that saw the West Yorkshire side be brought back from the brink of disintegration to Kings of Europe.

In the beginning...

In 2003 Westhead took over a side that was in receivership, with the aim of staying in Division One. With no transfer budget and a brutal need to slash the wage bill, no-one gave City any hope of joy that year. Yet through adversity comes strength and unity, which laid the foundations for the best period in the history of the Bantams. The side finished 2nd in the league, meaning automatic promotion to the Premiership, yet it was perhaps their FA Cup triumph that shocked most people.

Heads were turned in the fourth round replay at Blackburn, where City turned around a deficit in extra time to beat their Lancashire opponents. A massive rivalry game with Burnley ensued in round five, but no-one could have expected the massive 7-2 score line at Turf Moor. Bradford innocuously crept to the final, where they met Newcastle. Bradford had only ever been to the cup final before, in 1911, where their opponents were the Toon Army. The end result was the same, with the Bantams winning on penalties following a nervy extra-time.

The times, they are a changing

2004/2005 brought players to Bradford that would show their success for years to come:

Alessio Cerci Cerci was bought for just £825,000 from Italian side Perugia, and was an instant hit at just 16 years old. In his first season, he notched up 27 goals, yet this was only a taster of what was to come. He never scored less than 20 goals a season in his 9 full seasons at the club. The golden years came between 2007 and 2009, where he scored 97 goals in 99 games, a phenomenal rate. His partnership with Pietro Catania in 2011/12 and 2012/13 also proved to be very beneficial for the Italian, who scored 84 goals in 105 games, but also 44 assists and 24 match points. The biggest and highest-paid player in Bradford's history was almost certain to spend the rest of his career with Westhead, until this year when he had a distinctly average record. Unable to accept responsibility and leaning too heavily on previous successes, Cerci parted company with Bradford to return to his home side Roma, which netted Bradford a cool £80 million. It was a sour end for a striker who had won countless awards - 2008 English Player's Player of the Year and the Fan's Player of the Year 8 times.

Mauricio Alejandro Molina This Colombian symbolises the turn in fortune of this club. Bought for just £170,000, Molina was an instant hit, with his South American flair. His desire to play at the highest level was too much, and he got his dream move to Chelsea in 2007, netting Bradford £15 million. Ironically enough he never realised European success at Chelsea, and Bradford snapped him up for free in 2011. But just like Cerci, Westhead was not ready to settle for below-par performances from any individual, and was sold for a cut-price of £1 million. This shows the uglier side of Bradford's decade. A revolving door of high-rated players provides an unsightly blemish on an otherwise good period.

2004/5 showed more progress for Bradford, who won the league cup, but also managed to get to the UEFA cup final, having beaten off teams such as Dortmund, Bordeaux and CSKA Sofia. In the final they met Newcastle, who exacted revenge on the FA Cup by taking a 1-0 victory. An English side crushed Bradford again in the next UEFA Cup, this time being bowled over 4-1 by Chelsea in the final. Overnight Bradford had turned from a mediocre side into European challengers, but silverware still eluded them on a grand scale.

The Quiet Years

Between 2007 and 2011, Bradford became known as the nearly side. They were constantly in contention, yet very little joy came their way. League finishes of 8th, 3rd, 2nd, 6th and 3rd suggest the form of a side that weren't quite sure of what it was they wanted to achieve. A Premiership dream with a Division One attitude. A new impetus was needed, and it came in the 2011/12 season.

The Glory Years

Bradford unveiled some new signings, and saw the development of some key players, which finally saw them lift the league title. Their main threat came in the form of goal scoring, where the statistics speak for themselves:

-Alessio Cerci - 38 goals / 23 assists / 11 MoMs

-Pietro Catania - 38 goals / 13 assists / 12 MoMs

-Paul Connor - 28 goals / 14 assists / 6 MoMs

-John Curtis - 22 assists

The season saw them score 105 league goals, which led to 28 victories and their first ever Premier League title. A very similar record was achieved in 2012/13 too, where the league title came back to Valley Parade for the second year running. Not only did they claim the title, but the Champions League was finally added to the list of silverware, with Cerci grabbing an extra-time winner against Bayern Munich in the final.

The End?

Bradford came into the 2013/14 season with the aim of winning it all - and it was very possible. Success was now in their blood, and the tenth year of Westhead's management was supposed to be his swan song. The season got off to a great start, with City demolishing Stoke in the Charity Shield. It became clear that this season the emphasis was on defence, as the top strikers failed to find the net. Despite this shyness in front of goal, City still found themselves at the head of the table, and still qualifying from their group in the Champions League.

The second piece of silverware came in Monaco, where Rosenborg succumbed to a 3-1 defeat, handing Bradford the European Super Cup. These one-off finals suited City, who travelled to Japan to play for the Intercontinental Cup. Racing of Argentina provided tough opponents, but Martin Matthews gave Bradford a slender 1-0 victory. Having beaten their old rivals Newcastle in the semi-final of the League Cup, Bradford were treated with First Division opposition in Reading. However, this was not to be, and the Premiership leaders never got out of the starting blocks. The sending off of Paul Connor marred an ugly day in Bradford's season, but it was only the calm before the storm.

The fear for Bradford was that they were trying to win the battles on too many fronts, but seemed to be making an easy job of it as the season came to a close. But April saw a dip in league form, meaning that their top spot was now under threat. Nottingham Forest won the top of the table clash, reducing Bradford's lead to just 1 point. Days later, City lost 2-0 in Dortmund in the Champions League semi final first leg, and the season seemed to be slipping away.

Westhead picked up his men for a comfortable 3-1 victory versus Villa, before guiding them to a fantastic win over Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final. Days later Bradford went to Ashburton Grove in the league, trying to re-create their cup success, but Arsenal proved much fresher and put a serious dent in Bradford's title aspirations. A quality 3-0 drubbing of Dortmund in the second leg gave Bradford their second Champions League final in a row, and a comfortable victory over Liverpool took the title down the last game.

10 years and counting

Bradford went into the final day of the season 2 points behind Forest. The East Midlands side were away to Arsenal, who were in third. Bradford, however, had the enjoyable task of travelling to Sunderland. The Mackems were already relegated with the worst defensive record in the league.

Arsenal kept up their end of the bargain, thrashing Forest 5-1, just to show that Forest were not Championship material. All City had to do was beat Sunderland. The Black Cats had Brad Friedel in goal, a 43 year old American, who had only kept one clean sheet all season and conceded 106 goals. Despite this, and 17 shots on the Sunderland goal, Bradford could not get the better of their frustration. The goalless draw means that they had thrown the title away when it was so easy to win, a real downer on the über-season that Westhead had planned.

Following a break from training, Bradford played the FA Cup final against Norwich. Just like Reading, Norwich were also a First Division side, but posed no threat to Bradford. The Canaries were well beaten 3-0, setting City up for their Champions League showdown against AC Milan.

In just the third minute, a piece of nostalgia was about to hit Westhead harsh. Helder Barbosa, a player sold by Bradford for a cut-price, turned and unleashed a hellish shot into the roof of the net. Bradford never recovered, and Milan claimed the Champions League.

The Future?

It remains to be seen what will come of Bradford now - Cerci has left, Catania is leaving on a Bosman, and they currently have a manager who has become disillusioned as to what the side can achieve. For today at least, it seems like Bradford have come to a crossroads. Do they accept that they will be constant challengers, or should they risk it all by going double or quits.

Screenshots of interest

The decade in short

Bradford's Domestic Leagues

Alessio Cerci at City

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As Joe Westhead completes his tenth year in charge of Bradford City, BBC Sport looks back at the emotional decade that saw the West Yorkshire side be brought back from the brink of disintegration to Kings of Europe.

In the beginning...

In 2003 Westhead took over a side that was in receivership, with the aim of staying in Division One. With no transfer budget and a brutal need to slash the wage bill, no-one gave City any hope of joy that year. Yet through adversity comes strength and unity, which laid the foundations for the best period in the history of the Bantams. The side finished 2nd in the league, meaning automatic promotion to the Premiership, yet it was perhaps their FA Cup triumph that shocked most people.

Heads were turned in the fourth round replay at Blackburn, where City turned around a deficit in extra time to beat their Lancashire opponents. A massive rivalry game with Burnley ensued in round five, but no-one could have expected the massive 7-2 score line at Turf Moor. Bradford innocuously crept to the final, where they met Newcastle. Bradford had only ever been to the cup final before, in 1911, where their opponents were the Toon Army. The end result was the same, with the Bantams winning on penalties following a nervy extra-time.

The times, they are a changing

2004/2005 brought players to Bradford that would show their success for years to come:

Alessio Cerci Cerci was bought for just £825,000 from Italian side Perugia, and was an instant hit at just 16 years old. In his first season, he notched up 27 goals, yet this was only a taster of what was to come. He never scored less than 20 goals a season in his 9 full seasons at the club. The golden years came between 2007 and 2009, where he scored 97 goals in 99 games, a phenomenal rate. His partnership with Pietro Catania in 2011/12 and 2012/13 also proved to be very beneficial for the Italian, who scored 84 goals in 105 games, but also 44 assists and 24 match points. The biggest and highest-paid player in Bradford's history was almost certain to spend the rest of his career with Westhead, until this year when he had a distinctly average record. Unable to accept responsibility and leaning too heavily on previous successes, Cerci parted company with Bradford to return to his home side Roma, which netted Bradford a cool £80 million. It was a sour end for a striker who had won countless awards - 2008 English Player's Player of the Year and the Fan's Player of the Year 8 times.

Mauricio Alejandro Molina This Colombian symbolises the turn in fortune of this club. Bought for just £170,000, Molina was an instant hit, with his South American flair. His desire to play at the highest level was too much, and he got his dream move to Chelsea in 2007, netting Bradford £15 million. Ironically enough he never realised European success at Chelsea, and Bradford snapped him up for free in 2011. But just like Cerci, Westhead was not ready to settle for below-par performances from any individual, and was sold for a cut-price of £1 million. This shows the uglier side of Bradford's decade. A revolving door of high-rated players provides an unsightly blemish on an otherwise good period.

2004/5 showed more progress for Bradford, who won the league cup, but also managed to get to the UEFA cup final, having beaten off teams such as Dortmund, Bordeaux and CSKA Sofia. In the final they met Newcastle, who exacted revenge on the FA Cup by taking a 1-0 victory. An English side crushed Bradford again in the next UEFA Cup, this time being bowled over 4-1 by Chelsea in the final. Overnight Bradford had turned from a mediocre side into European challengers, but silverware still eluded them on a grand scale.

The Quiet Years

Between 2007 and 2011, Bradford became known as the nearly side. They were constantly in contention, yet very little joy came their way. League finishes of 8th, 3rd, 2nd, 6th and 3rd suggest the form of a side that weren't quite sure of what it was they wanted to achieve. A Premiership dream with a Division One attitude. A new impetus was needed, and it came in the 2011/12 season.

The Glory Years

Bradford unveiled some new signings, and saw the development of some key players, which finally saw them lift the league title. Their main threat came in the form of goal scoring, where the statistics speak for themselves:

-Alessio Cerci - 38 goals / 23 assists / 11 MoMs

-Pietro Catania - 38 goals / 13 assists / 12 MoMs

-Paul Connor - 28 goals / 14 assists / 6 MoMs

-John Curtis - 22 assists

The season saw them score 105 league goals, which led to 28 victories and their first ever Premier League title. A very similar record was achieved in 2012/13 too, where the league title came back to Valley Parade for the second year running. Not only did they claim the title, but the Champions League was finally added to the list of silverware, with Cerci grabbing an extra-time winner against Bayern Munich in the final.

The End?

Bradford came into the 2013/14 season with the aim of winning it all - and it was very possible. Success was now in their blood, and the tenth year of Westhead's management was supposed to be his swan song. The season got off to a great start, with City demolishing Stoke in the Charity Shield. It became clear that this season the emphasis was on defence, as the top strikers failed to find the net. Despite this shyness in front of goal, City still found themselves at the head of the table, and still qualifying from their group in the Champions League.

The second piece of silverware came in Monaco, where Rosenborg succumbed to a 3-1 defeat, handing Bradford the European Super Cup. These one-off finals suited City, who travelled to Japan to play for the Intercontinental Cup. Racing of Argentina provided tough opponents, but Martin Matthews gave Bradford a slender 1-0 victory. Having beaten their old rivals Newcastle in the semi-final of the League Cup, Bradford were treated with First Division opposition in Reading. However, this was not to be, and the Premiership leaders never got out of the starting blocks. The sending off of Paul Connor marred an ugly day in Bradford's season, but it was only the calm before the storm.

The fear for Bradford was that they were trying to win the battles on too many fronts, but seemed to be making an easy job of it as the season came to a close. But April saw a dip in league form, meaning that their top spot was now under threat. Nottingham Forest won the top of the table clash, reducing Bradford's lead to just 1 point. Days later, City lost 2-0 in Dortmund in the Champions League semi final first leg, and the season seemed to be slipping away.

Westhead picked up his men for a comfortable 3-1 victory versus Villa, before guiding them to a fantastic win over Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final. Days later Bradford went to Ashburton Grove in the league, trying to re-create their cup success, but Arsenal proved much fresher and put a serious dent in Bradford's title aspirations. A quality 3-0 drubbing of Dortmund in the second leg gave Bradford their second Champions League final in a row, and a comfortable victory over Liverpool took the title down the last game.

10 years and counting

Bradford went into the final day of the season 2 points behind Forest. The East Midlands side were away to Arsenal, who were in third. Bradford, however, had the enjoyable task of travelling to Sunderland. The Mackems were already relegated with the worst defensive record in the league.

Arsenal kept up their end of the bargain, thrashing Forest 5-1, just to show that Forest were not Championship material. All City had to do was beat Sunderland. The Black Cats had Brad Friedel in goal, a 43 year old American, who had only kept one clean sheet all season and conceded 106 goals. Despite this, and 17 shots on the Sunderland goal, Bradford could not get the better of their frustration. The goalless draw means that they had thrown the title away when it was so easy to win, a real downer on the über-season that Westhead had planned.

Following a break from training, Bradford played the FA Cup final against Norwich. Just like Reading, Norwich were also a First Division side, but posed no threat to Bradford. The Canaries were well beaten 3-0, setting City up for their Champions League showdown against AC Milan.

In just the third minute, a piece of nostalgia was about to hit Westhead harsh. Helder Barbosa, a player sold by Bradford for a cut-price, turned and unleashed a hellish shot into the roof of the net. Bradford never recovered, and Milan claimed the Champions League.

The Future?

It remains to be seen what will come of Bradford now - Cerci has left, Catania is leaving on a Bosman, and they currently have a manager who has become disillusioned as to what the side can achieve. For today at least, it seems like Bradford have come to a crossroads. Do they accept that they will be constant challengers, or should they risk it all by going double or quits.

Screenshots of interest

The decade in short

Bradford's Domestic Leagues

Alessio Cerci at City

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