Portsmouth v Bradford City: Bantams chief Julian Rhodes sets points target for survival

Julian Rhodes: Remains confident.
Julian Rhodes: Remains confident.
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BRADFORD CITY interim chief executive Julian Rhodes points to the club’s Premier League survival early in the new Millennium as proof that all is far from lost this term.

The Bantams have endured a tough week with defeat at Walsall being followed by the resignation of manager David Hopkin. Victories for a couple of their relegation rivals have also left City three points adrift of safety with a dozen games to go.

This has led some to write off Bradford, but Rhodes, on the board when the club stayed in the top flight under Paul Jewell in 2000, remains confident survival can be attained.

“All is not lost,” said the Valley Parade chief ahead of today’s trip to Portsmouth with Martin Drury in temporary charge. “Far from it, in fact. There is no doubt things have not gone as we hoped since the start of the year.

“We did look at the fixtures after Barnsley away (on January 12) and thought there could be points available. Things didn’t work out as we had hoped, but who is to say it won’t now we are into what, on paper, looks to be a tougher run?

“That is just how football is at times. Look at our first season in the Premier League. We were dead and buried going into Easter or so we kept being told.

“But then we drew 4-4 at home to Derby (on Good Friday) before going to Sunderland, who were chasing a place in Europe at the time, and winning 1-0.

“That set us on the run that culminated in beating Liverpool on the final day to stay up. I’d imagine the odds of that happening ahead of Easter that season were very high.

“Our position this time is nothing like as bad as back then, either. Things are still very close. When 1-0 up last week (at Walsall) we were two points above the relegation zone.”

City head to Fratton Park sitting second-bottom in the table and three points behind fifth-bottom Oxford United, whom they face a fortnight today.

“I still believe 50 points will be enough,” added Rhodes. “That means 17 points from 12 games.”