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01/02: Reports:

Nationwide Division One, 27/10/01
Bradford City
Lord, it's Bradford again...
By Matt Rowson

Bloody hell, what do you want me to say? We played Bradford City less than three weeks ago for goodness' sake, what am I supposed to write that's new ? It's all here. It's ten to eleven on a Monday evening. Tsega is already in bed. I've been out for a farewell drink with a good mate who's found himself a job in Paris, broken free. No more drinking partners in Bedford. I'm warm and sweating in post-Guinness giddiness and I can't concentrate, let alone generate something interesting for you to read, people that I can't see or speak to. Why do you read this crap anyway ? How do I know what works and what doesn't ? Does anybody notice ?

Here's a test. Perhaps I could write complete fiction and see if anyone picks me up or cares particularly. Okay, Bradford City will line up at their Odsal Stadium on Sunday with Perry Digweed in goal. Peo Ljung is at right-back and Todd Carty at left-back. Mickey Droy is in the centre partnered by "The Dreamer" from the Guinness adverts.

Suzanne Dando is on the right flank, and Ian McKellen on the left. A central midfield partnership is formed by former Jam drummer Rick Buckler and one-time Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan (who are probably young enough to break into the City team, thinking about it).

Up front meanwhile is Radio Five anchorman Mark Pougatch, whilst pace and goalscoring prowess is provided by the fearsome Ashley Ward.

Okay, maybe that's pushing it.

Trevor Francis is one of the most honest, selfless and underrated managers in the country who will surely walk into another management job soon. Today I heard the word "statistically" mentioned in a prime time television programme in a fashion that didn't make me want to punch the screen. It might have been on "The Weakest Link". Or "Watchdog". Perhaps not. And Paul Ince really didn't deserve to get sent off this evening. And Dean Windass doesn't look like an extra from "The Bill" credited as "Angry Man in Bar".

Actually, while I won't deny that writer's block and Guinness is an unhelpful cocktail, even in this pit of frustration married life has brought me the maturity to realise that there are many worse off than me. I really have little cause for complaint in the grand scheme of things. For example, I could be supporting Bradford City....

Since we pummelled them out of the Worthington Cup, the Bantams have played and lost three games, conceding nine goals whilst scoring precisely none. That makes City's last goal from open play over six hours of football ago. Some reports suggest that City are playing well but not getting the results, which implies two things.

One. The correspondents in question weren't at Vicarage Road three Tuesdays ago.

Two. City are in big trouble. If you're playing well and getting caned, what's going to happen when your form takes its inevitable turn ?

Manager Jim Jefferies is alleged to be facing the axe should City fail to produce the goods at Millwall on Tuesday evening. He is truly displaying all the telltale signs of a manager who has run out of ideas... flailing haphazardly with tactics and formations, making random, inexplicable decisions during matches, being linked with numerous ex-players and signing someone on loan from Spurs. Remember Mark Robson? Danny Hill?

Matthew Etherington is the man in question in this case, having arrived for a month in time for Tuesday's trip to the New Den. Etherington was the more vaunted half of the young Peterborough duo signed by George Graham at the start of last year, but whilst Simon Davies has made significant and impressive incursions into Spurs' first team, Etherington has loitered unconvincingly on the fringes.

Christ, that was almost coherent.

Things have got so bad for City that one correspondent has conceded the possibility of "even missing out on promotion". Heavens.

5 on the door on Saturday. Let's go and make some noise. Surely we don't just win 3-0 away when I choose to go househunting?

I'll be feeling better by then, promise...