The Michael Wood Column

Wednesday 17 October, 2001

Jim Jefferies is still the best man for the job

It has become something of a regular thing. Get a piece of paper, or in this case web page, and make a list of the favourites to take over the hot seat at Valley Parade. Favourite at the top, Edinho at the bottom. It's a BfB tradition .

And I'll let you, dear reader, into a secret. They are not done on the day of the manager leaving. The shock of the Paul Jewell departure taught us at BfB/tBCs a lesson.

So the replacement list of Chris Hutchings was in existence for a good two weeks before he left. That is not to say that when things are going well we at BfB towers sit like women at the guillotine waiting for the head to fall but rather that when it seems like the writing is on the wall for the boss, the writing is going onto the page for us. A list for who will replace Jim Jefferies has been started.

It seems like there is little escape from the dreaded bag for Jefferies. His team plays well, but gets beaten, a sure sign of the end of a manager's stint. Defeat seeps towards acceptability when away from home, another sign. Odd decisions on players such as bringing off Stuart McCall or leaving Benito Carbone on the bench for 83 minutes often are precursors to the sack, as is a flurry of tactical changes. I sincerely hope that I am reading the signs wrong.

I really hope that like Paul Jewell in 1998 Jim Jefferies is able to turn things around. There is potential in this City team and how it plays just like there was in Paul Jewell's side that when struggling at the foot of the division drew 2-2 at VP with Sheffield United and had some nodding towards the play offs.

I think that Jim Jefferies is one of if not the most talented manager City have every had. He has sown the ability to get a City team playing better football that most thought possible. Newcastle at Valley Parade last season springs to mind, as does Barnsley at the start of this term. The problems that are set in Jefferies way would be common to any manager.

There is no money at the club. The player fund is empty, the wage tank is full and the hope that the Rhodes family would be the financial push slumped along with Filtronic shares in 2000. Geoffrey Richmond has gone on record as saying he would not bankroll the club, a decision you has to respect and perhaps, with the lessons of similarly funded Wolves and Birmingham City who have spent ages in this division without bringing a Premiership return on their investments, agree with.

Not only is there no money but there are few marketable players to raise funds with. Lewis Emanuel perhaps aside none of the current squad look as if they could be set for dream moves to Old Trafford or Anfield and the Des Hamilton like returns that brings. Benito Carbone may fetch a couple of million but in the main the boss has to work with what he has got.

Which brings up point two. The list of managers is not overflowing with names. Gordon Strachan leads it after rumours linked him to the post. Stuart McCall is on it but the quality of boss that City could draw is a long way off that which was available when Jim was appointed and frankly, a long way off Jim's abilities.

Put simply, Jim Jefferies is the best manager City can have. Strachan is spirited and, although I personally would never like to see the ginger tosser anywhere near Valley Parade, he is a natural leader who has a lot to offer a club, but if he is the best on the market then the smart money says stick with the current guy.

The players must start playing better, Jim can not be the only one to take responsibility for the fact they are not. The leaders in the camp: Stuart McCall, David Wetherall, Benito Carbone, all have to make sure they are getting the most out of those around them. This team looked brilliant early this season, it can do again but only if the players raise the level of performance that has slipped since then.

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From: Geoff Dyson

I couldn't agree more with your assessment that Jim is still the man for the job. As he said at one of the fans forum's last season, 'judge me when you have seen my team play'.

I do, however, now believe that the Benito Carbone situation is causing Jim and the Club real problems. Don't get me wrong I have been a great admirer of Benito Carbone's, he's the most talented footballer we have ever had by a mile and I applaud the Club's audacity in bringing a player of his talents to the Club. However, we were an aspiring Premier League Club at that time, we are now a Club operating at a different level where a different type of player is required to battle out of what is always a very physically demanding League. Add Benni's astronomical wages and it doesn't take a rocket-scientist to know that the Club would be better placed if Benni was allowed to leave permanently.

I believe this would free us from the financial stranglehold that Jim has had to operate under and allow him to change the squad to the one he was referring to last year - one with younger legs and hungrier footballers - a bit like the teams we had in the late 80's that did us so proud.

I'd say to our Chairman and all fellow fans - give Jim all the support you can, both financially, and with the shouts from the terraces, and he'll get us back to where we all want to be - and on a sounder footing than the last time.