The games are the thing

There is football and there are things next to football and the two are oft mistaken for each other.

There is the game played over ninety minutes and the rest of the week of discussion and debate, of extrapolation and interpretation and these things should not be interchanged for each other.

The Easter weekend – Sir Alex Ferguson’s oft talked about “moving time” – is a space in the calendar of the game where it is the former that is concentrated on. Four days and two games and at the end of it a much clearer indication of the outcome of the season is had. There is no permutation of results this weekend that can rule anything out or anything in and the lack of six days worth of pontification time allows the mind to focus solely on the game, and those who play it.

In the thick of it it is hard to tell if the players of Bradford City have been too much talked about this year or too little. They have been responsible for some shocking performances but the fiercest critics have focused on the manager as a reason for this. The blame for last year’s trip to Morecambe and the weak surrender was put squarely at the door of the players.

Of the sixteen players who were in City’s squad that night only two could hope to be playing in this game – Rhys Evans and Nicky Law Jnr – and both have been away and returned since. One is still at the club: Nix; Two are injured: Daley and Heckingbottom; Three are out on loan: Ainge, Bower and Conlon.

That the squad of players going into the game with Morecambe and Monday’s match with Lincoln City bares little resemblance is – depending on your point of view – a vindication of Stuart McCall as a man prepared to make changes of a vilification of him. At Easter such questions do not matter. It is about two games of football.

Winning two games of football which would go a long way towards winning a play off place for City but what is the point of discussing, of thinking about, that situation without amassing the points – six, four, three, two, one, none – over these two games. After then we can and will talk more but now – and for four days – football is a game of action and not words and is about players and not managers.

Rhys Evans starts in goal with Paul Arnison expected to continue sitting out to allow Zesh Rehman to play right back opposite Luke O’Brien and next to Graeme Lee and Matthew Clarke. Last week’s tight four midfield with Keith Gillespie, Dean Furman, Paul McLaren and Chris Brandon is subject to change – Joe Colbeck on the right is a mystery still unsolved – while the forward line seems to be Peter Thorne and either Michael Boulding of Paul Mullin.

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