Knocking back the Bantams

Another day, another rejection for Peter Jackson as he tries to bring in an experienced midfielder to join the Bantams. Today Gavin Skelton let it be known that Barrow rather than Bradford was his destination of choice.

Skelton is a product of Archie Christie’s scouting – Dagenham were in for him as well – having done wonderful things with Gretna in his time and his choice seems to be to not go further from home rather than further his career.

Such is the problem that City have operating at League Two Level. Offer Benito Carbone £45,000 a week and one would expect him to move from anywhere to Bradford, offer Skelton less a year to join and he thinks twice about uprooting his family, taking his kids out of School, re-mortgaging his house of whatever else footballers do when the work on the same economies that the rest of us have to. Some readers would uproot for £40,000 for a year, others would not, and footballers are in the same position.

Is the club best served by making it worth the while for people like Skelton, Tommy Miller, or whomever to move? If they are not – as we understand Guy Branston was – gripped by the idea of playing for Bradford City do we want them if they get gripped by the thought of another £10,000 a year. Recent history says no.

The likes of Paul McLaren and Michael Boulding had their heads turned to play at a lower level than they could have by the thought of more money and the results – while not massively poor – were not what the club wanted. Indeed McLaren ended up losing his place to two young loanees.

The poster boy for not wanting to join a club but having a dumper truck of money driven up to your house is – of course – Ashley Ward who did all he could to resist the Bantams until such a time when he was offered a life changing amount. Ward’s contribution always looked reticent, and probably was. You can not buy passion.

What you can buy though is a mystery. Peter Jackson needs more bodies in his squad – or believes he does – and his targets elude him for whatever reason.

Perhaps the question is though not if the player who does put pen to paper is fifth or sixth choice but rather is he the right choice, and has be made that choice for the right reasons.

Years of refusal

A midfielder has refused to have a medical with Bradford City today seemingly ending the chances of his joining the club next season.

You can make your own mind up which of the players linked to the club is likely to be the man who has knocked back Peter Jackson in his chase for an experienced middle man. Gary Jones previous turned down City’s overtures, there is speculation that today’s refusal is Tommy Miller formerly of Hartlepool United. City seem to be finding that having finished a half dozen places above the bottom of the football league most players are finding that there are better offers, and plenty of them.

Jackson’s ambition in highlighting good players to bring in causes some consternation – the club missing out on targets in public is never good for morale – but there were few rivals for the signatures of Luke Cornwall or Robert Wolleaston and there was a reason for that. If you aim high, you get frustrated more often, but sometimes you get your man. After all it was Newcastle United who got the first bid accepted for Wayne Rooney from Everton, and the same logic won them the signature of Michael Owen.

Not all plans work out as you would want them to.

Jackson moves onto a another target and while some might worry about this one struggles to recall much of a difference in the success rate for players signed earlier to later in the close season. Ashley Ward was signed the day before City went to Liverpool for the opening day of the second Premiership season and turned out to be not much more use than a plank of wood, Dan Petrescu was signed in ample time and arguably performed worse.

There are – for sure – a group of players who you would like to snap up sooner rather than later like Brentford bound Clayton Donaldson but the idea of making all your recruitment before mid-July even when you have missed out on your top targets seems flawed. The fact that Jackson and City have tried to bring in unreachable players just underlines the need for Archie Christie and his scouting network to identify the right targets.

If City are serious about building a future rather than going gung-ho for promotion again then sixteen year old Scott Brown is a better choice than whomever can be scrambled in after all the players we want have knocked us back.

Jackson is understood to be switching attentions to Oxford United’s Simon Heslop or Anthony Grant of Southend United but that is just rumours and gossip. If only there was a way to get to Peter Jackson’s phone messages.

For Miller – if it is he – one cannot wonder if he had been signed by the club “subject to a medical” and has had second thoughts – or a better offer – which he wants to explore. The vast majority of people in the real world who accept a position at a company have a wait for contract to arrive through the post and before it goes back with a John Hancock on it are able to look for a better offer.

In the time after talking to City and agreeing the deal should the agent picks up the phone to some League One club who have shown an mild interest and tell them that his lad has a contract for Bradford City signed seal and delivered but can get out of it if that extra £200 a week they talked about might be found…

If the mystery midfielder turns up at Huddersfield Town or similar next week then City have been played for sure, but it is hard to see how one avoids that apart from going for players that no one else wants, and where is the good in that?

Post script Peter Jackson confirmed that Tommy Miller was the player in question, but denied that Miller had refused to take a medical.