You’ve Got To Love Phil Parkinson
During pre-season, like most City fans, I’d read about the Bantams in the newspapers and watch them train on Look North, eagerly anticipating the coming season and looking forward to seeing the new signings in action. The bookies often listed us as favourites for the title, and promises of promotion accompanied the new managers.
Not that those promises ever materialised.
Step forward Phil Parkinson, a man who boasted Colchester United, Hull City and Charlton Athletic as previous employers, and who was a fully-fledged legend amongst the Reading faithful. When he signed on the dotted line last season, I had no idea that he would lead a serious promotion challenge and get the club to Wembley, especially in a competition that’s usually dominated by Premier League giants.
But, then again, City hadn’t exactly filled their fans with cheer before this.
It’s fair to say that, in recent years, Bradford City have been no strangers to the managerial-merry-go-round. From the Stuart McCall era and the Peter Taylor plight, to the short-lived tenure of Peter Jackson, the Bantams have seen plenty of changes in gaffers. That’s a lot of anticlimaxes.
Take Peter Taylor, for example. With an impressive C.V. that contained promotions and work with the national team, he appeared to be the prime candidate for the City job. However, within months of his appointment, the Bantams were hovering close to the relegation zone and there were calls for his resignation. It’s just crazy to think that we could have been playing non-league football the following year, as we all believed that Taylor would have got us to League One.
After Peter Jackson’s departure, Phil Parkinson stepped in, and something happened to the club.
Impact players were drafted in and new signings were made. The squad’s mentality changed. Parkinson vowed to make Valley Parade a “fortress”. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, he was laying the foundations for a promotion push and preparing to seriously contend for a play-off spot next season.
The game against Fleetwood unveiled a new-look Bradford team, but the Wimbeldeon tie presented a side that played with so much composure, skill and dominance, and I just couldn’t believe it. Gary Jones was incredibly energetic and involved in midfield; the goals were coming in from anywhere and everywhere; some of the chances created by midfield were fantastic. City were tearing their opponents to shreds. The club’s form under Peter Taylor became a distant memory.
Parkinson himself is the epitome of calmness and composure. When Paul Lambert was flaring up on the touchline, Parkinson was cool, considering tactics and changes in players. However, he’s also so passionate and appears to really love the club and his players: his celebrations with Parkin, his post-Arsenal embrace with Gary Jones and desire to remain in Bradford have all proved this.
He’s probably quite the speechmaker, as well. I wouldn’t mind being a fly-on-the-wall in the changing rooms when Parky is addressing the team: in order to steady the players and produce such great displays against Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa, he must have said something brilliant.
Parkinson’s fashion sense is making waves, too. If teachers’ clothing choices are anything to go by, the v-neck sweater has soared in popularity, and I’ve no doubt that the City gaffer must be partly responsible for this sudden influx of jumpers.
Granted, it’s not all been cocktails and glitter under Parkinson (There’s been the slump in league form, but we won’t dwell on that too much.), but he’s taken us on a journey that we’ve all been encapsulated by.
Long-term, the sky’s the limit in terms of what City can achieve under Parkinson. He’s managed to turn the club around and has completely revolutionised the city-people are just so proud to be from Bradford and he’s breathed new life into a town that deserved to be put back on the map.
With that in mind, Bradford City can walk out at Wembley in the knowledge that they’ve not only got a whole city and country behind them, but also a fantastic manager who most clubs would be desperate to have.
Can City win the cup? I certainly think so. Especially with Phil Parkinson at the helm.