Date: 3rd February 2009 at 9:12pm
Written by:

I had a visitor for Saturday’s game. It was my Best Man. He’s a Liverpool fan so he came to Valley Parade hoping that the Bantams would rekindle his love for the game (his words, not mine). It’s not the first time Dave has visited Manningham but it’s the first time for a while (and as you can tell he’s got more than a passing affinity for the boys in Claret & Amber these days)

So, Dave, it’s over to you…

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Something`s been bothering me after Saturday`s game. The icy winds at Valley Parade left me humming, but that`s just football in winter, and nothing a cuppa doesn`t fix. It wasn`t Stuart`s questionable decision to wear shorts, as though to mock the rest of us who turned up in overcoats and beanies. It wasn`t even the wide-eyed 4 year old in front me, seeing his first game, who was cursing like a trooper in wide-eyed falsetto by the end of the first half (tradition is a beautiful thing, and we all have to start somewhere).

No, it was Steve Jones. In the whole game, I saw him run – actually run – twice. More than once he stopped chasing the ball when it was still in play, giving the attack up without a fight. The rest of the time, he was just jogging. You might expect this from a player on loan from a club who`ve just got to a cup semi-final without him, but next to the commitment shown by Dean Furman (also on loan), he was a joke in luminous boots.

Yet for the last two days, all I`ve been reading is how he was a star player for us, how impressive he was, how he scored a goal. And that`s sort of true.

One out of three ain`t bad, as the wise man say.

He certainly had a lot of the ball on the wing, and in a matched contest, that`s a real achievement for a team. But Grimsby were one man down for more than an hour; you`d expect an advantage in possession.

Fair enough, you might say; he still had the ball a lot and was the go-to guy for the team. A team needs someone like that.

Except the Bantams had 27 shots on goal during the match, and Steve Jones had so much of the ball that he had most of them. And he only managed to score when Grimsby had put 9 of their 10 men at the other end of the pitch in a desperate attempt to get a draw, in the fourth minute of added time. And even then, he only got it because Michael Boulding was generous enough to lay it off to him instead of going for one of his own.

Jones had most of the Bradford possession because the team had obviously been told by Stuart to get the ball to him at all costs. When Omar Daley came off towards the end, Jones switched sides and he still got all of the ball; clearly the only plan Stuart had was ‘get the ball to Jonah`.

But it makes no sense to treat someone with Jones` lack of commitment as route one. Especially given that Nicky Law, Dean Furman and Omar Daley – Omar Daley! – were slogging themselves for the team, not to mention the back four putting in the kind of performance you want from a promotion-chasing defence. Watching Jones was like watching last season`s Daley at his most slack. And for all the flack Joey Colbeck copped for last season, he never did anything as bad as a couple of Jones` floaters in this game.

Colbeck was brought on far too late on Saturday, but when he was, he brought a passion to his game which put Jones to shame. I know which of these two I`d rather see in the starting lineup. They`ve both got skill but Colbeck`s got metal in him too, and he`s improved since last season. And I`ve certainly never seen him phone in a performance like Jones did last weekend.

Of course, I`m being harsh to Jones. But it`s important not to be blinded by a goal. He isn`t bad; but he`s lazy as all hell and, on Saturday`s showing, needs far too many chances to score. We`ve got him for the rest of the season and let`s hope he picks it up; because if he takes 74 minutes to score against ten men when he has all of the ball and the rest of the side is instructed to fall at his feet, we`re going to stay in this division for another season. And it`s already been too long.

Am I wrong? Say so if you think so!

Get it together, Jonesy. You`re playing for a club where you could be a hero. But only if you stay awake for whole matches at a time.

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