The Michael Wood Column

Sunday 23 December, 2001

"Where does the hand become the wrist?

...Where does the neck become the shoulder? The watershed and then the weight? Whatever turns up and tips us over the edge, between something and nothing, between one and the other."

I have had my fill of Jim Jefferies.

Draw a list of the English football teams, factor in squad abilities, include ground to boost the likes of Huddersfield and Stoke, make a note of those who have big business backers like Rushden and Diamonds. Include the Scots teams, Rangers and Celtic near the top, Edinburgh and Dundee clubs being along side the some of the first division sides. Make that list and show it to Jim Jefferies.

Because the name Bradford City would be above the fold. We would be top fifty easily, top thirty more realistically.

We have decent sized ground, bigger than most in Scotland and getting towards the sort of size that people consider appropriate for Premiership clubs.

We are a profitable club. Geoffrey Richmond is a hard taskmaster. He controls the purse strings of his clubs (City and Scarborough) with a tight hold, but Bradford City are not in debt and Jim Jefferies has never had a player sold from under him getting freedom to wheel and deal. If Jim Jefferies wants to complain about a lack of funds I suggest he takes a look at the top of the Premiership table and asks himself the question: Why did I sell Andrew O'Brien for £1.5m? We all know that O'Brien had an agreement to allow him to leave if an acceptable offer came in but even though selling OB was the right thing to do, allowing him to leave so cheaply was criminal.

Not only has he been allowed to sell any player provided he meets budget targets, he has been allowed to bring in players: Andy Tod, Juanjo, Lee Makel, Gary Locke, Billy McKinlay, Matthew Etherington, Stephen Caldwell, Claus Jorgensen, Eoin Jess. They are not of the same quality as those who have left, Stan Collymore, Benito Carbone, Peter Beagrie, Dean Windass, Andy O'Brien, Matt Clarke although I hesitate to bring the latter into such a list, but they are Jim's signings. If he is unhappy with the squad after that one has to question why.

Jim Jefferies has a budget of £7.5m for wages. He has some talent to draw from and some excellent senior pros.

He has a chairman who for all his faults, and we know them better than any, is always pushing for more. The Knighton's at Carlise simply do not want to be involved with that club anymore, Chris Robinson at Hearts wanted Jefferies out of that club. JJ should consider these things after he had walked out on Bradford City.

Jim Jefferies should get down on his hands and knees and thank God he is Bradford City manager, instead he treats the job like it is Devil sent. Whatever the reasons for Jefferies upset: problems with Stuart McCall, lack of funds, unrealistic expectations et al, he should never have got to the situation where he sends out a team at Coventry City that was playing without a leader. McCall gone, Brown gone and Jefferies with one foot out of the door the display was an embarrassment and one that JJ is responsible for.

It was losing 5-0 at half time to Crewe without Paul Jewell keeping the players one the field for 15 minutes cause he could not face them in the dressing room.

It was the dark days of Doherty, the hoplessness of Hutchings, out gunned against the Premiership.

Losses at Millwall and Palace and Stockport and Millwall at VP have seen this season turn from triumphant return to miserable trudge. Somewhere along the way the hand became the wrist. The neck the shoulder.

Jim Jefferies is a very good manager, but as a Bradford City manager he is a failure.

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