James Vaughan has signed for Bradford City after being released by Wigan Athletic. Leaving the Latics with a record of 38 games and five goals. Vaughan spent the last half of the 2018/2019 season on loan at Portsmouth, making ten league appearances without scoring. Despite this, he can make a success of his spell with the Bantams.
James Vaughan Can Be Successful at Bradford City
Experience and Injury Woes
Vaughan has a solid pedigree, having previously played for Everton, Leicester City and Crystal Palace. However, Vaughan has struggled with a lack of consistency in his career, largely due to injuries. He burst onto the scene as a youngster at Everton. Vaughan still holds the record for the youngest Premier League goalscorer, scoring against Crystal Palace aged 16 years and 270 days old. While injuries are part and parcel of every player’s career, Vaughan has had more than most, including cartilage surgery on both knees at the age of 21. Many people link Vaughan’s luck with injuries to the failure to match his early potential. Vaughan has dropped down the leagues as his career progressed but has spent the majority of his playing time in the Championship. The 2019/2020 season with Bradford City will be Vaughan’s first venture into League Two.
There is an obvious talent within James Vaughan, but he has struggled with a goal drought in recent seasons. Contracted at Sunderland in the 2017/2018 season, Vaughan only managed to score two goals in 23 games. After only sixth months in Wearside, his time was up. Vaughan moved to Wigan Athletic, much to the relief of the Black Cats supporters. His time at Wigan was also fairly poor in terms of goalscoring, but this was due to a tactical shift. Vaughan was used to hold the ball up instead of being the focal point of attacks.
His recent form and age are against him, but there are many reasons for Bradford City to be excited. Vaughan was a prolific scorer in a relegation-threatened Bury side in 2016/2017, scoring 24 in 37 appearances. If Vaughan is utilised in the right way he can surely hit those numbers again in League Two.
Analysing his most prolific season at Bury, we can see that Vaughan needs to have the correct setup to allow him to score. Vaughan excels at playing on the shoulder of the last defender, can shoot accurately with either foot and is equally as threatening in the air. However, Vaughan is not a player that will carry the ball forward. Often collecting the ball in dangerous areas from teammates. This means that, without a creative link in midfield or good service from wingers, Vaughan will struggle.
On his time at Bury, Vaughan stated: “It all fit together for me at Bury and it was a successful season personally. We had a great set of lads and the management and staff really looked after me, so I enjoyed every minute of it”
This would indicate that Vaughan is a confidence player, something that can take time to develop as he settles into the new environment.
James Vaughan is fairly quick but as he ages, he will naturally lose a yard of pace, so it will be vital to find the right partners to complement his attributes. Vaughan has also been praised for his work rate when harrying defenders. Something that, if done successfully, will lead to goals. Clayton Donaldson, another new signing for Bradford, holds a good contrast to Vaughan’s skills. Donaldson has height, strength, and the hold up play to be the target man that can afford Vaughan to focus solely on the attack.
There is no denying that Vaughan is creeping just past the peak footballing age and has been plagued by some horrific injuries. This three-year contract, if he stays for the full duration, is likely to be Vaughan’s last contract in the Football League. There are many who doubt he has anything left to offer, other than experience. If Vaughan completes another goal restricted season it could signal the end of a slightly underwhelming professional career. However, a successful season could see Vaughan ending on a high, as Bradford are aiming to be promoted and compete once again in League One.
This project is perfect for Vaughan – a player of his calibre should score for fun in League Two and he is in need of a goal-laden season. Vaughan is positive of Bradford’s chances of promotion and Gary Bowyer is delighted with his capture. With the right service and tactics, the Vaughan and Donaldson combination might just prove age is just a number after all.