League sponsors MANarama caught up with the Bradford (Park Avenue) manager ahead of Saturday’s big game with King’s Lynn.
Bradford (Park Avenue) fans could be forgiven for thinking they have stepped back in time this season. Some events seem all too familiar. Mark Bower taking to the Horsfall hotseat with the whole league writing off their chances of success is almost a carbon copy of where they club was three years ago.
The rest, as they say, was history. Safety first and then back-to-back play-off campaigns had the fans believing again.
But after a catastrophic start to this season, the club went back to the future to reignite an old flame with the popular Bradford-born boss.
“You never say never in football,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave the club when I did but circumstances meant that between us, we had no option to make the decision that we did.
“There have been a number of changes at the club since I left which has made it easier for me to come back. I came in two years ago in a similar position when everyone said we were doomed and going down.
“Slowly but surely, we turned it around and got ourselves safe that season and built some strong foundations to have two very successful seasons following that – that’s what we’ve got to try and do again.”
Things couldn’t have been much worse when Bower stepped back through to door – an FA Cup defeat to Morpeth was swiftly followed by an 8-0 thumping at Brackley.
Garry Thompson was shown the door after two games before Marcus Law had a spell in interim charge. The club were now looking for their third manager of the season.
Many would have run the other way. But Bower is made of different stuff and instead, he’s relishing what is to come.
“Confidence was very low when I came in,” Bower explains. “We had just been knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league team and then been beaten 8-0 so the dressing room was very low.
“But in the couple of weeks since, started well against Hereford and then we’ve been unfortunate in the other two games that followed, and we’ve shown a better side to our play. But there’s still plenty to work on.
“We’re not just down there, we’ve had some heavy defeats and look well short of the mark at times. If we can stay up this season, it will give us a bit of a clean slate to start again and build again from next summer.
“We’re in the same boat as a number of teams down there already but I’m more than confident with the players we’ve got in the dressing room that we can hold our own and get competitive.”
On history alone, many might see the 39-year-old as their knight in shining armour, on his way to save their season.
But the past means nothing for Bower, who also brought Danny Boshell back to the club with him. His message is simple. Judge me when I’m done.
“Winning that first game was probably the worst thing that could have happened because people might have relaxed. But there’s a lot of work to do and we need all the help we can get.
“I want to do my best for the club for as long as that lasts for. If you do the job well then, you’re more likely to stay around so obviously that’s what I’m trying to do.
“We’ve had a really good reaction to us coming back but I’m more interested to what people will think when we’ve finished the job. Hopefully people will think well of us when it comes to an end.”
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