MARK MARSHALL believes the key to Bradford City’s unbeaten start to the season has been manager Stuart McCall giving his players licence to express themselves.
The Bantams are just a point adrift of leaders Scunthorpe United in League One after claiming 24 points from the opening dozen games. City have also won both Checkatrade Trophy ties, while even the club’s League Cup exit at Accrington Stanley came on penalties after neither side had been able to break the deadlock in two hours of football.
For McCall, it represents a dream start to his second stint in charge at Valley Parade and Marshall believes the former Scotland international deserves all the credit for providing the players with the right environment to prosper.
“The gaffer always says work hard and express yourself,” said Marshall. “He gives us licence to do that. And, to be honest, what more motivation could we have for ourselves as footballers? You are doing the best job in the world and something that you love – why would you not go out there and express yourself?
“I am definitely enjoying the football we play and the environment. When you are in a successful environment, it is the best feeling. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it and the more successful you are, the more expressive you get.”
City’s start is made all the more impressive by it following a summer of upheaval at Valley Parade that saw Phil Parkinson leave after almost five years at the helm.
A cornerstone of Parkinson’s successful reign was a solid defence and that is one thing McCall has continued with the seven goals Bradford have conceded this term being the joint lowest in the Football League.
This defensive stinginess has been a big factor in Bradford’s lofty position, snapping at the heels of the leaders, despite netting just 15 goals of their own in those 12 outings. As if to underline this, last weekend’s win at home to Shrewsbury Town was the club’s first by more than a one-goal margin – and only then thanks to a last-minute penalty.
“To be honest, 1-0 and a win is a great result,” added Marshall. “And when you go away and get a draw, that is a great result, too. Of course, we would like that second goal. But if you have got that resilience and hard work, you don’t always need it. The whole point of football is to score and then keep the opposition out.”