Feature: Parkinson looks to wake sleeping giant Bradford City

When Phil Parkinson took over as Bradford City manager on Sunday night he wasn’t taking over your stereotypical League Two outfit.

A Premier League side just over ten years ago the Bantams are a club whose facilities and ambitions staggeringly exceed their disappointing standing in the Football League pyramid.

Since relegation to the bottom tier in 2007 the club has boasted the highest average attendance in the division every season with their impressive 25,000 capacity Valley Parade home representing a stand-out away trip on any League Two supporter’s calendar.

However things haven’t worked the out the way their expectant fans have hoped it would as their steady ten-year decline from the promised land continues to frustrate.

Club legend Stuart McCall was given patience by the board and supporters alike enjoying a three-year spell at the helm following relegation from League One but the man famed for comically tumbling off atop of a car following their successful Premier League survival campaign was unable to stop the rot.

He left his beloved Bantams with a heavy heart and his parting words were filled with disappointment and regret that he had failed to achieve at a club he holds so dearly: “I’m hurt because I wanted to be a success here and the bottom line is I haven’t been.

“It’s not been for a lack of effort and I couldn’t have had more support from the players, staff, Julian as the chairman and the fans.

“If there was anywhere I wanted to succeed it was here. I had two great spells here as a player but the dream I had of being a manager and getting success has not come off.”

The Bradford supporters were understandably disappointed with the departure of their highly coveted club icon and left scratching their heads that if a man that bleeds claret and amber cannot bring success to the club then who can.

McCall’s successor was none other than England manager Peter Taylor whose appointment was met with subdued levels of enthusiasm but also some cautious optimism.

However after a promising end to his first season in charge that saw the Bantams go six games unbeaten the man that bestowed David Beckham with the England captain’s armband never fulfilled his early promise.

A summer overhaul brought about a great change in the playing staff but any pre-season optimism was quickly whittled away with a run of form that saw the side pick up just two wins in their opening ten fixtures.

A 2-0 away win at Barnet in October spared his job but with the fans already restless in regards to player selection and his style of football Taylor was on borrowed time and departed the club following a 3-2 home victory over relegation-doomed Stockport County.

He had already made his mind up to leave in the lead-up to the game and cited the club’s perilous situation and the growingly impatient supporters as his motive in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds: “I think the crowd’s reaction made up my mind that it is the best time to go. I have made a decision that Saturday is my last game. Bradford City is more important than any individual, without a doubt. The history of this football club is fantastic and we’re in a dodgy situation.

“The last thing I need is for supporters that have lost patience with me to then interfere with the players and their performance because Saturday is very important and so are the remaining games. Because of the season we’ve had, supporters are impatient and I feel I won’t be of help anymore.”

Peter Jackson was the next to put his feet under the desk in the manager’s office but lasted just four games into the current season. Jackson had made his professional debut with the Bantams and also captained the side but much like the aforementioned McCall he failed to bring success to the club despite a close past affiliation.

Phil Parkinson is now the man charged with turning around fortunes at Valley Parade and is no stranger to pressure and expectations. After steering Colchester United to the heights of the Championship Parkinson has since been employed by Hull City and more recently former Premier League side Charlton Athletic.

He is fully aware of the challenges that await him and in an interview with the club’s official website has urged fans to show patience in a project that he believes can see Bradford soar to greater heights: “I was very impressed with the structure they have in place here to help take the club forward. I’ll be doing everything I can to help with that and give the supporters something to cheer about because I think they deserve it.

“The supporters here at Bradford City deserve a side that is really going to excite them, I’m not saying that is going to happen overnight, but I am going to do everything I can to produce that team. It is going to take a lot of hard work, but I am ready to roll my sleeves up and really get stuck into the job.”

It represents a humble approach from a manager who despite only taking the job five days ago has swiftly moved to improve his squad bringing in five players before the transfer window slammed shut yesterday.

Kyel Reid and Matt Duke look to be the stand-out captures for the club with Parkinson receiving some credible backing from joint-chairmen Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn with the latter describing him as “highly recommended within the football fraternity.”

Parkinson will be disappointed not to have secured the capture of Paul Benson after bringing the striker to Charlton during his two and a half year tenure-ship but with the loan window opening on the 8th September and Benson open to the idea after falling down the pecking order at the Valley the move is by no means dead in the water.

As Parkinson said it’s by no means an overnight revival but with everything slotting into place and the 43-year-old boss already imposing himself on his new employers the Bantams could be set to rise once again.

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