Playing Torquay was harder than playing Arsenal, claim Bradford
League Two side beat Gunners on penalties
Wednesday 12 December 2012
Even if Bradford City's appeal against expulsion from this season's FA Cup for inadvertently fielding an ineligible player had not been successful today, manager Phil Parkinson could surely be forgiven for suggesting he would not be losing any sleep over the possible ramifications of the club's decision to play Curtis Good, on loan from Newcastle United, in their drawn second-round tie against Brentford without having first obtained written permission.
There may be some at the League Two club who were less sanguine. After all, if the reprieved Bantams go on to beat Brentford in the replay next Tuesday, and then Southend in the third round, the fourth-round draw could be another money-spinner.
According to director of operations Dave Baldwin, the money City made in beating Arsenal in Tuesday's Capital One Cup quarter-final, estimated to be around £300,000, is only enough to wipe out half the club's projected overspend on wages this season. This suggests they are paying rather more than the average weekly League Two wage of £750 a week, though possibly not quite as much as the average of £60,000 Arsenal pay each of their players.
But Baldwin went on to say that the money Bradford will make from the televised two-legged semi-final – at least £1m, whoever they play – will secure the club's long-term future. Not surprisingly for a team which, in the last 11 years, has plunged from the Premier League to League Two, has twice entered administration, and no longer owns its own ground, he did not define "long-term", though only one player in their team against Arsenal cost them a fee. City paid local non-league side Guiseley £7,500 for centre-forward James Hanson.
As the victory over Arsenal sunk in, Bradford's captain Gary Jones added insult to injury by claiming Torquay had given his side a tougher test in City's 1-0 home win in League Two on Saturday. "I think they did," Jones added. "It was like a role reversal. Torquay defended really well against us and we defended really well against Arsenal."
For Parkinson too, the result must have felt like redemption of sorts. Having been regarded as one of the game's rising young managers when he steered Colchester to promotion in 2006, subsequent lack of success at Hull City and Charlton saw him happy to be given another opportunity by Bradford last year. Last season they secured their league status only in the penultimate game of the season.
This season, however, Parkinson's team-building has begun to bear fruit. They will go into Saturday's league match at Southend fourth in the table, three points off an automatic promotion place. If Nakhi Wells, the 22-year-old Bermudan striker who gave Per Mertesacker and in particular Thomas Vermaelen such a torrid evening, maintains the form which has seen him score 11 league goals in 19 starts this season, they will certainly be close.
"We want to try and put Bradford back on the map for the right things, and nights like this will certainly help do that," said Parkinson, after the raucous support of a record seated attendance of almost 24,000 at Valley Parade helped his side beat the Gunners.
"The people of this city have been superb with the club. Their support was magnificent, and they deserve a team they can be proud of. I believe we are getting there with this one."
Arsène Wenger's insistence on Bradford's excellence may have got a little lost in the torrent of criticism aimed at the Arsenal manager, though the fact that City won the penalty shootout (their ninth consecutive success, an English club record) was as much down to Arsenal's failings as Bradford's competence.
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