Football: Nationwide Preview - Jewell's Oxford exam

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The Independent Online
PAUL JEWELL, the Bradford City manager, is determined to keep a cool head despite knowing his side face their most important game of the season so far at home to Oxford today.

Jewell goes into this weekend on the brink of leading the West Yorkshire club into the top flight for the first time in 77 years, having masterminded a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

He was the surprise choice of the Bradford chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, to become caretaker manager in the wake of Chris Kamara's sacking over 15 months ago, and, even by his own admission, an unpopular one with the fans. The supporters' feelings seemed justified as City actually finished two places lower at the end of last season than when Jewell had been appointed.

Bradford picked up just one point in their last five games, a run which included embarrassing defeats at Bury and Crewe. The end seemed in sight for Jewell, but perhaps even more of a surprise than his initial appointment was Richmond's decision to hand him the job on a permanent basis.

When City began this season by taking just five points from their opening seven games in the wake of a considerable summer spending spree, the knives were sharpened for Jewell. The supporters wanted him sacked, but Richmond refused to bow to public pressure as he maintained his belief in his manager.

A win over Oxford at Valley Parade today and defeat for Ipswich at Birmingham tomorrow will see City go up. "I think most of the fans would have liked that game at Crewe to have been my penultimate act as Bradford manager," Jewell said. "I'm not kidding myself that I wasn't the fans' choice, but I've since proved one or two people wrong.

"At the end of the day there's nothing I can do about people's opinions. My job is to win as many games as possible and if we win enough games for promotion then all well and good.

"We're aware we've got a major job to do and there certainly won't be any complacency. All I hope is that we continue to give 100 per cent effort and that we get the rub of the green."