Happy Valentine’s Day from VALLEY PARADE (LMA 2000 #2)

2001/02

No transfers were made either in or out, Paul Jewell was still the manager, the ownership remained the same, only thing that was different was the big bastard stadium that Bradford City would now compete in. The promised £500m investment was half gone. The pre-qualifier against Trabzonspor was navigated and Feyenoord, Auxerre and Borussia Dortmund awaited in the first group stage. A last matchday loss at home to Dortmund saw Bradford stutter to second place after topping the group on every previous matchday.

City’s faltering 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Grimsby Town left them in third place whilst the second group stage of the Champions League awaited. 1860 Munich, Valencia and Manchester United. Bradford won their first FA Cup game as a Premier League side, a 4-1 win at Halifax Town but Everton would eventually knock Bradford out. The other cup competition – the big one, the Champions League – would boil down to two legs against Manchester United after they had progressed ahead of them in the second group stage. Juventus were humiliated 6-2 on aggregate in the quarter finals.

Much was said ahead of the semi-final two-legged affair about Bradford and Man Utd’s previous two-legged semi just four months after United’s 4-3 aggregate win in the League Cup semi-final. United scored four goals in the Champions League semi but this time without reply. They were on their way to a third successive European final whilst Bradford had just the league to fight for.

City went undefeated from New Year’s Day in the league until April Fools’ Day, both at home, to Everton and to Manchester United. By the end of April, just four points were in it between three teams. Arsenal led United by one and Bradford by four. A 1-0 win v Wimbledon took Bradford to within three points due to Arsenal’s loss at home to Manchester United. Unfortunately, a draw at Portman Road to Ipswich Town was sandwiched in between the all-important European semi-finals, Bradford were out of the title race. Third place was consolidated but the gap was closed to the top teams in the land.

AUGUST

2-0    Manchester City         Ronaldo 2                                PL [A]

3-1    Trabzonspor               Beckham, Denilson, Ronaldo   CL [A]

2-1    Middlesbrough          Owen, Ronaldo                        PL [H]

3-0    Watford                      Owen 2, Ronaldo                     PL [A]

1-2    Arsenal                       Ronaldo                                   PL [A]      6th

4-2    Trabzonspor               Beckham, Denilson, Ronaldo 2 CL [H]

SEPTEMBER

2-2    West Ham United         Ronaldo, Giggs                      PL [H]

1-1    Tottenham Hotspur      Owen                                     PL [H]

3-0    Feyenoord                    Kewell, Beckham, Owen         CL [H]

2-2    Aston Villa                    Owen, Ronaldo                       PL [A]

2-1    Auxerre                         Ronaldo, Owen                      CL [H]

1-0    Derby County               Ronaldo                                 PL [A]      7th

OCTOBER

0-1    Borussia Dortmund                                                    CL [A]

3-0    Norwich City                 Ronaldo, Owen 2                   PL [H]

4-2    Sheffield Wednesday   Ronaldo 2, Owen, Denilson    LC [A]

2-2    Wimbledon                  Ronaldo, Owen                      PL [A]

3-2    Feyenoord                   Ronaldo 2, Beckham              CL [A]

2-1    Ipswich Town               Denilson, Owen                     PL [H]     5th

2-1    Auxerre                        Ronaldo, Owen                      CL [A]

NOVEMBER

3-2    Leeds United                Owen 2, Ronaldo             PL [A]

1-2    Borussia Dortmund     Ronaldo                            CL [H]

2-1    Coventry City              Owen, Ronaldo                  PL [H]

2-2    Grimsby Town             Giggs, Ronaldo                 PL [A]     3rd

3-1    1860 Munich               Owen 3                            CL [A]

DECEMBER

2-2    Chelsea                       Owen, Denilson                  PL [A]

3-0    Manchester City          Owen 2, Heskey                 LC [A]

2-1    Manchester City          Owen, Denilson                  PL [H]

2-3    Valencia                      Ronaldo, Heskey                 CL [A]

4-1    Halifax Town               Owen 2, Ronaldo 2             FA [A]

2-1    Charlton Athletic        Owen 2                               LC [H]

1-1    Manchester United     Ronaldo                             PL [H]

2-0    Liverpool                     Owen, Ronaldo                  PL [A]    3rd

JANUARY

0-2    Everton                                                                     PL [H]

3-3    Newcastle United      Ronaldo 2, Heskey                 PL [A]

1-3    Everton                      Owen                                    FA [H]

2-2    Manchester United    Ronaldo, Denilson                 LC [A]

2-1    Middlesbrough          Ronaldo, Denilson                 PL [A]

2-1    Watford                      Ronaldo 2                              PL [H]     3rd

1-2    Manchester United    Owen                                     LC [H]

FEBRUARY

2-2    Chelsea                    Ronaldo 2                               PL [H]

1-1    Arsenal                    Owen                                       PL [H]

3-0    West Ham United    Beckham, Denilson, Ronaldo   PL [A]    3rd

MARCH

3-0    Aston Villa                 Ronaldo 2, Beckham              PL [H]

1-1    Manchester United    Denilson                                CL [H]

3-2    Tottenham Hotspur    Beckham, Owen, Heskey      PL [A]

2-0    1860 Munich              Owen, Ronaldo                     CL [H]

3-1    Grimsby Town            Ronaldo 2, Owen                   PL [H]

2-1    Valencia                      Denilson, Ronaldo               CL [H]

3-1    Coventry City              Beckham, Ronaldo, Heskey PL [A]

2-0    Manchester United     Ronaldo, Scholes                 CL [A]

1-1    Liverpool                     Ronaldo                               PL [H]    3rd

APRIL

0-2    Manchester United                                             PL [A]

4-1    Juventus                     Owen 3, Ronaldo              CL [A]

2-1    Newcastle United       Heskey 2                          PL [H]

1-2    Everton                      Ronaldo                            PL [A]

2-1    Juventus                     Ronaldo 2                         CL [H]

4-1    Derby County             Ronaldo 2, Denilson 2      PL [H]

2-1    Norwich City               Denilson 2                        PL [A]

MAY

1-0    Wimbledon                  Owen                              PL [H]

0-2    Manchester United                                             CL [A]

2-2    Ipswich Town               Beckham, Owen              PL [A]

0-2    Manchester United                                             CL [H]

3-1    Leeds United               Owen 3                            PL [H]

 

 

 

2002/03

The transfer tactic had changed. Nine players came in, four from Arsenal and five from Manchester United. Bradford were now poaching from their rivals. Eight names left the club, recuperating a fair amount of money due to big sales of Nicolas Anelka and Harry Kewell. Again, an early season league loss to Arsenal stunted Bradford a little but the pre-qualifier against Olympiakos saw them into a first stage group with Arsenal, Real Madrid and Feyenoord.

Despite a win in the Bernabeu, two late winners home and away from Arsenal’s Dennis Bergkamp left City five points adrift with two games to play as well as Arsenal and Real to play at Highbury. A second half turnaround at home secured a double over Real Madrid. Then it was Feyenoord at the same time the qualified Arsenal travelled to the Bernabeu. City needed an Arsenal win or a draw and a thrashing of their own in the Netherlands. City racked up the goals, 2 from Ronaldo, 1 from Owen. Whispers of rumoured results from Spain, anything but a Real Madrid win. Arsenal rolled over 4-1 – it was to be a return to the UEFA Cup. Galling, as the points tally would’ve seen us through in two other groups. 

We were now staring at Rosenborg in the UEFA Cup and due to our European exploits, we had fallen eight points behind runaway leaders Coventry City. A hangover after the European exit at Highfield Road wasn’t there – a Ronaldo winner. 5 points behind the leaders with 13 played. A surge for the title was being felt in Yorkshire. Not so much in Leeds or Sheffield Wednesday but it was palpable in Bradford. We were done at the first stage of the League Cup by Fulham but got to the quarter finals of UEFA Cup, beaten by Juventus and then in the FA Cup semi-final by Manchester United.

So there we sat with one possibly trophy to go for in the middle of April. We were nine points, sitting back in fourth behind Arsenal with six games to go. Newcastle, Man Utd, Liverpool, Coventry and Leeds all fruitlessly attempted to battle for the title, with their eyes mainly on Champions League football. Unfortunately, Arsenal kept on winning, as Bradford did, but it made the nine-point deficit unattainable. Champions League football for 2003/04 was confirmed on the final day with a point at Elland Road. City would end up five points adrift and the lowest number of losses as Newcastle stole the Premier League title on the last day.

IN

Thierry Henry, Marc Overmars, Nwankwo Kanu, Patrick Vieira (£78.4m combined – Arsenal), Roy Keane, Ole Solskjaer, Phil Neville, Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen (£47.8m combined – Man Utd)

OUT

Nicolas Anelka (£14.7m – Lazio), Damien Duff (£2.5m – Barnsley), Xavi, William Gallas (£11m combined – Southampton), Igor Tudor (£7.6m – Deportivo), Alessandro Nesta (£5.9m – Tottenham), Dejan Stankovic (£6.9m – Newcastle) Harry Kewell (£15.6m – Liverpool)

 

 

2003/04

It has become a vendetta. It has become about winning trophies. Paul Jewell was out. Jose Mourinho was in. He took City through the group phases of the Champions League with ease and they didn’t falter in the league until the first trophy was sewn up. The League Cup was won with two late, late goals from Michael Owen in a 3-2 win at Wembley over Everton. First trophy in the pocket and with a quarter final in the Champions League against Porto and a semi-final in the FA Cup against Charlton still to come.

The first league defeat was at home, to the team they beat in the League Cup final, Everton, on March 17th. With this loss Bradford still sat nine points clear. Bradford would go onto record two more losses (two immediately after the Everton loss) on the way to the Premier League trophy.

The FA Cup wasn’t on its way, however, as Charlton Athletic sunk Bradford 2-1 in the semi-finals. The pain of that particular loss was soothed three days later with a 6-3 aggregate win over Porto in the Champions League quarter final, a hat-trick from Emile Heskey. The poor league form after the Everton loss however, left Bradford level on 74 points with Blackburn with two games remaining. Sandwiched in between crucial league matches was a Champions League semi-final against Arsenal. After a 1-1 at Highbury, Dennis Bergkamp put Arsenal 3-1 up on aggregate at Valley Parade. A 90th minute winner from Ronaldo sent Arsenal out and sent Bradford into a final with Schalke. Ronaldo netted the winner there as well. Mourinho had completed a Treble in his first season as Bradford manager.

Premier League: Winners (80 pts)

Champions League: Winners (2-1 v Schalke)

FA Cup: Semi-Final (1-2 v Charlton Athletic)

League Cup: Winners (3-2 v Everton)

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