By Matthew Kermode
It’s been a month since Bradford City WFC announced former Sheffield FC coach Chris Hames as their new manager, after a lengthy but thorough recruitment process that saw over 15 applicants, and a final shortlist of five whittled down to one. To date he has taken charge of just one game; a close-fought 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool Feds. But the lack of matches hasn’t stopped Hames getting stuck into his new role, with extra training sessions filling those vacant Sundays.
The Liverpool match came two weeks into Hames’ reign, which gave him the opportunity to work with the players and coaches and take stock of the challenges ahead. Hames was delighted with his introduction to City, he said: “The welcome I received from everybody was fantastic. The togetherness of the group is strong, in spite of all the challenges that they have faced, and that has really been a pleasant environment to come into, and definitely made my job easier.
“Because of this, and the excellent work carried out by Charlotte, Dan and Riz before I arrived, we were able to hit the ground running at training and going into that first match against Liverpool”.
Hames certainly found the lack of matches in those opening weeks frustrating but also beneficial: “The weather hasn't helped us get the number of games we would like to have played in, and under our belts, but looking at silver linings that has given us even more time together to implement the plan we have going forward”. Those plans are certainly evident on the training pitch, although attendances have been affected by the time of year, it’s evident that the players are all pulling together, and bought into Hames’ methods and approach.
First team captain Zoe Roberts has noticed a difference since the new manager's arrival: "The mood within the team seems more positive, and we'e all working hard to play how he wants to"
Before he started Hames made it clear that he knew what faced him when taking over from Steve Winterburn, so he knew what to expect when he arrived: “I can't say there have been any surprises. The group is packed with talent, and so so much potential, so getting such a good output in game one was nice, and may have shocked our opponents, but definitely didn't shock me.
“Again I think the way the group stick together and have built such a bond, in spite of the last 18 months the club has endured, has been fantastic to see, and gives me great confidence going into the new year”.
The fixture congestion caused by the recent poor weather means that to date City have played three games less than some of their Division 1 North rivals, and will only six points dividing the bottom five teams there is plenty of time for the Bantams to chase down and overtake their relegation rivals and get the season back on track. Hames is hoping that unity can shine through and push his young side back up the table, “The second half of this season is going to be packed with games. But our focus always has to be the next game.
“Each match will present us with an opportunity to gain valuable points, to rise-up the league, and more importantly to get this club enjoying its football again. The challenges that await us make it even better, knowing that we go in every week as the underdog will keep the fire in our bellies to snatch and steal whatever we can”.
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