The Roland Harris Column

Tuesday 28 August, 2001

September is the scalping month

Three years ago many City fans faced September with one thought on their minds: If we don't get a win by the end of this month then it's Bye Bye Jewell and a long relegation fight. Looking at the fixture card now thoughts are a very different.

Burnley visit VP to start Septembers programme of seven league games all of which City will look at as being winnable. Gillingham and Grimsby also visit in the month and both will do well to push early season form so far, Stockport already look like they are fighting relegation but should not be able to make up in graft what City have in graft and class.

The four home games offer City 12 points that should be won if the Bantams are looking at a serious automatic promotion bid.

On the road City face two visits to Sheffield, United preceding Wednesday, and a trip to the City Ground to play Nottingham Forest. Forest are the stiffest test. The once proud side may be down on their luck but have strong home form and some talented players. Sheffield United will be looking for a play off place at least after a good last season but their style of bluster is exactly that which Jim Jefferies Bantams will gobble up this year. Wednesday have a relegation score to settle but are beatable.

Again all three are winnable but one doubts JJ would sniff at a return of five points. Seventeen from September would give City 26 out of a possible 30 in the first team of a season. If that does not see the Bantams top then Kevin Keegan would be doing something wonderful at Maine Road.

How realistic the hopes of City rolling on into October unbeaten in the league is debatable. Wins against Coventry and Portsmouth suggest that on thier day this Bantams side has nothing to fear. Squad size is perceived as a sizeable chink in the armour, but with the exemption of Matt Clarke the restricted numbers do at least give a signal to those outside the starting 11 that a first team spot is not that far away. Lee Sharpe seems to have seen the fact that the squad is not huge as a spur, the likes of Lewis Emanuel and Ben Jones will also be able to see a chance where at larger squads there is none. Of course strength in depth would be preferable, but attitude, that is to say positive attitude in depth is a great thing if you can get it.

So assuming the squad gets few injuries, and perhaps welcoming David Wetherall back into the fold, are the Bantams good enough to get results from the next seven? Coventry was touch and go and you might say that a sharper finish or two would have seen City down and out, but the likes of Sheffield United are not Coventry, they are not even Portsmouth and squandering chances is what separates this level from the one above. The Wee Mon from Cov pointed out the number of chances his boys had at VP on Friday, that just showed by they went down. Missing chances was (one of) the reason we went down. We seem to have leaned this though.

For what it is worth I think that in thirty days time City will have at least the 26 I talk about above, if not more, and will be up at the top of the league to be shot at. Bubbling down near the bottom though, will be a club with a Paul Jewell just scraping though September and looking upwards at us, wanting our scalp.

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