Alan Biggs: Why it’s memories over money for buccaneering John Brayford

John Brayford
John Brayford
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Cometh the hour cometh the man? Hardly original but then, as modern footballers go, John Brayford is an original. Or as near as damn it.

Who better to have back in the fold of a flailing team than a player who describes taking a near-50% pay cut as a “minor issue?”

A player who dropped two divisions from the Premier League to join Sheffield United and who is determined to vindicate that gamble.

Currently, it might seem like misadventure. But it’s not just the beard that is buccaneering about Brayford; he’s a talismanic figure in a dressing room rightly panned for a lack of leadership. How big a financial drop Brayford took to seal his £1.5m move to Bramall Lane from Cardiff early this year can be regarded as a private matter.

Indeed, I was rapped on Twitter by a well-meaning supporter who felt I should not have pressed the subject during a local TV chat with the player.

However, I thought it was important, without seeking financial figures, to try to establish the scale of this and still do. You can drop a fiver a year and it’s still a drop.

If my reading of nudges and winks is correct then a (for once) bashful Brayford took something like a 40% hit in swapping his Cardiff contract for United’s terms. Maybe a “minor issue” for him but how many footballers would say that in 2015?

MORE BLADES NEWS: Thursday’s headlines from Bramall Lane

It helps us understand why Brayford stands out after becoming an instant cult hero at the Lane during an initial spell on loan.

“I’ll take the memories over money,” he insists. “We might be having a rough time but there are plenty more memories to come.

“Sheffield United and the whole city is in my heart as a place I enjoy. It’s a privilege to put on that red and white shirt.”

Plenty of players trot out stuff like this but how many truly mean it? Brayford so obviously does.

Nor has it swayed his devotion that Nigel Clough, the mentor he played for at Burton and who later took him to Derby and the Blades, was controversially sacked last summer.

“As players, we need to take responsibility to get the crowd onside,” he says after returning in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley. “On paper we’ve probably got the best squad in the league but the lads on the pitch against Shrewsbury last week weren’t the ones I go to work with every day.

“Teams are coming to make it their cup final. But it’s got to be our cup final, too. We have to be not just matching them, but out-fighting them as well.”

Brayford’s Blades stands for action rather than words. Agents fee, aforementioned in this column, suggest the same with United under-performing their third place in that table after an expenditure of £254,713.

n Good to see ex Blades boss Kevin Blackwell back under his old United sidekick Neil Warnock in QPR’s interim management team. Warnock told me: “He’s been revelling in it, so excited he’s like a young pup. I can’t knock that but I am having to calm him down a bit!”