The Sky pundit publicly pondered that the Premiership was a step too far for the newly promoted Yorkshiremen, saying that they would beat a hasty retreat back to the Nationwide League. Marsh’s remarks got up the noses of the Bradford hierarchy and fans alike.
The former QPR schemer was so sure in his prediction that he staked his hair on it, and pledged to be sheared on the pitch at Valley Parade should he be proved wrong. Marsh was duly clipped in front of a delighted crowd early this campaign.
Had he kept stumb until this season, Marsh’s locks would surely be safe from the clippers — it does not look good for the Bantams.
It has been muted that the fact appears to have been acknowledged by the club, who appear to have embarked on a cost-cutting exercise in preparation for a fall in income next season.
The big earners who arrived in a blaze of glory pre-season have been shipped out one by one. Players who were drafted in to protect the club from another nerve-tingling scrap against the forces of relegation have been sacrificed as manager Jim Jefferies (pictured) believes a more workmanlike team is required for Division One.
Stan Collymore, Lee Sharpe and Dan Petrescu were among the big-name casualties of Jefferies’ early cull, highly-rated defender Andy O’Brien and striker Dean Windass being the latest.
It must be a cruel realisation for Bradford fans that the club has been forced to accept its fate before the final whistle has even blown on the Easter programme. But it could be a case of cruel to be kind, Jefferies is a vastly experienced football man who has cut his cloth accordingly during previous stints at Berwick and Hearts with some success.
Bradford are some 13 points adrift of the first safety spot and the Scot is possibly displaying the more canny side of his nature by formulating his team and plans early in order to hit the ground running next season.
But it is not as if the team are simply marking time, Bradford have still got fight in them and they have drawn their last two games having been ahead in both of them.
Spurs are as aware as most of Bradford’s fighting qualities, back in December it looked as though the away-day jitters were about to be put to rest. A 3-1 lead with 30 minutes remaining was not sufficient to hold the battling Bantams at bay and a potential three points was soon whittled down to one.
The equaliser was scored that day by one Benito Carbone, who happens to be one ‘star’ player still at the club. It is said that the former Sheffield Wednesday player is keen to move back to Italy, but the Italian transfer window closed before he could slip through and the playmaker remains at Valley Parade until at least the end of the season.
Carbone’s joyous public unveiling must seem a long time ago now to the Bradford faithful, as must the brief flirtation with European football in the Inter Toto Cup. But all good things come to an end it seems — and at least Bradford appear prepared, books in order, ready for another bash at the big time.
By Richard Hubbard
Rodney Marsh spoke too soon when pondering Bradford’s prospects during the early part of last season — and it cost him his treasured blond Barnet.