Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson fully focused on League Cup glory


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The Independent Football

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson has broken with convention by claiming he would take a cup triumph over league success.

Parkinson's task at the start of the season was to execute a rebuilding exercise that would begin the process of restoring Bradford to their former status as a Premier League club.

As that experience almost killed the club first time round, no-one was expecting a repeat to be a quick process.

Yet Bradford's present position of 11th in League Two would be a source of satisfaction for no-one had it not been for a quite extraordinary Capital One Cup run, which reaches its climax against Swansea at Wembley on Sunday.

So far, Parkinson's side have claimed three Premier League scalps in Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa.

And while some may prefer to talk about the bread and butter of weekly league combat, the 45-year-old from Chorley has his sights firmly set on the record books.

"All along the league has been our priority. I cannot hide away from that," he said. "But we are in the final at Wembley and have a chance of getting into Europe.

"So I can honestly say now, if we had the choice of two things, it would have to be winning the cup.

"We are a League Two team. We have created history by getting this far. It would be truly amazing if we could pull it off."

And how would Bradford handle that? Possibly an unexpected insurance premium for a start to ensure a trophy - something Arsene Wenger has not got his hands on for eight years remember - can be protected properly.

Perhaps a map of Europe to plot a Europa League campaign that may well start in July and end in August.

Of far greater importance though is investment to push the club forward, with the present run having already cleared historic debts that have dragged Bradford down since the days of Benito Carbone, Stan Collymore and the Premier League.

"The chairman has done a great job clearing the debts but now it is their job - and mine - to ensure this extra revenue is used to keep improving the structure of the club and make sure our supporters have a club that will flourish in years to come," Parkinson added.

"As much as we want to enjoy this weekend, it is really important this revenue is used wisely. I am sure it will be."

This is a unique experience for Bradford, but also for Parkinson.

He has spent some time this week on the phone to old friend Alan Pardew to get some idea of what plans to make, while assistant Steve Parkin did the same thing with Sam Allardyce.

But one of Parkinson's key tasks comes from personal experience.

In 1995 he was suffering from a knee injury when Reading reached the play-off final against Bolton at Wembley, forcing him to miss the Royals' Wembley defeat.

So Luke Oliver, whose campaign was ended by a snapped Achilles in October, will very much be part of the event.

"We have to make sure he is a part of it," Parkinson said. "For Luke that is the next best thing.

"My own experience means everybody, whether it is someone who comes in one day a week to help the physio out, or is there every day, has to be involved."

Parkinson could never have expected to be in the position of telling some of those who are fit they have not made the cut.

Neither could anyone have prepared him for the team talk he must make before 4pm on Sunday, knowing the mental preparation will be almost as important as what goes on once the match of his players' lives actually starts.

"Are we going to get any fitter this week? Probably not," he said.

"Mentally we have come through some big games; Wigan, Arsenal, two against Aston Villa. But this is another level above that.

"The next challenge is can we handle the big one, at Wembley. I am ready for that and I am confident my players will meet it too."