Bradford 2 Sunderland 0: Phil Parkinson fears no one as BBC snub backfires

Bantams manager declared his team can beat any side left in the FA Cup

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The Independent Football

Phil Parkinson, who has turned Bradford City into one of the greatest giant-killers in the history of English domestic cup competitions, has declared his team can beat any side left in the FA Cup.

The Bradford manager extended his already remarkable record with a 2-0 defeat of Sunderland on Sunday that was as comfortable as any of the victories that took Bradford to the League Cup final two years ago. This result and the 4-2 humbling of Chelsea have now carried Bradford to their first FA Cup sixth round since 1976, when they lost to the eventual winners, Southampton.

Like many in this corner of Yorkshire, Parkinson was angered that the refusal of the BBC or BT to televise this fifth-round tie had cost the club nearly £250,000. Bradford’s response (below) was tweeted by the club’s official Twitter account, showing their disapproval of the decision. Next month’s tie, however, is guaranteed to be broadcast and, if they are drawn at home, Parkinson is confident Bradford could be a match for anyone.

“I keep saying we want to play Manchester United,” he said. “And I know the chairman would like to be drawn away against a big Premier League side. I’d like to be at home because I’d like the crowd to experience what they did against Sunderland. If we get our approach right, we have a chance against anyone.

“Progressing further will be all about keeping the honesty in our performance,” Parkinson added. “It is not about stepovers or switching play with 60-yard passes. What I will say to our supporters is that whoever we draw we will give it everything and, if we are not successful, we will walk off the pitch with our heads held high.”

Given that they reached both the League Cup final and the League Two play-off final in 2013, Bradford have arguably more experience of Wembley than most of the teams left in the FA Cup, with the exception of Arsenal. On Sunday, they were backed by the largest crowd Bradford have known at Valley Parade since the 1960s.


“That’s why I would like a home draw for the people of Bradford,” said Parkinson. “That is what makes football – when you get three sides of the ground singing about the performances of the players down on the pitch. We were disappointed this game was not televised because a quarter of a million would have meant a lot to us but other people have done our talking for us.”

Some of the talking done by the Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, was positively bizarre. Poyet, who lost Jermain Defoe to injury before kick-off, correctly summed up the afternoon as a game of “cuts, bruises and a bad decision by the referee” – Sunderland might have had a penalty when  Steven Fletcher was brought down.

However, he blamed the media for the way his team were perceived, saying there should be a “Wall of China” around Sunderland to prevent the fans – many of whom jeered him at Bradford – being unduly influenced by the press. “This is not my worst afternoon as manager of Sunderland,” he added. “Last season I spent eight months in the relegation zone.”