Parkinson: Bradford on the up
Bradford manager Phil Parkinson hopes Tuesday night's Capital One Cup semi-final clash with Aston Villa will help 'reawaken a sleeping giant'.
The spotlight shone brightly on the Bantams during one of their finest hours last month when the 110-year-old League Two club stunned Arsenal in a thrilling penalty shoot-out triumph in the quarter-finals.
It has been a long 13 years since Bradford escaped relegation on the final day of the 1999/2000 season to survive a second campaign in the Premier League after a famous 1-0 home win over Liverpool.
The Bantams were relegated the following season. and then followed a calamitous slide into administration (twice) and English football's basement division. From top to bottom in seven forgettable seasons.
But not only were mighty Arsenal conquered in the previous round, top-flight Wigan also succumbed to Parkinson's penalty shoot-out kings, while Gianfranco Zola's Watford were undone by two late goals at Vicarage Road in round two - and the former Colchester, Hull and Charlton manager wants to give the whole city something to cheer again.
"That's really important for us," said Parkinson, 45. "It's a big club, a sleeping giant and we're trying to reawaken it.
"The win against Arsenal certainly reminded everybody that Bradford City is up and running and starting to get going again. Another really good performance tomorrow night would be great for the city again."
Parkinson, installed as Peter Jackson's permanent successor in the summer of 2011 and tasked by joint chairmen Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn to get the club out of League Two, rebuilt the whole squad during the close season and, but for a 2-0 defeat at Barnet on Saturday they would be sitting in a play-off position.
Bradford are still only three points off an automatic promotion spot and Parkinson added: "The lads have been good. Obviously we lost on Saturday, but it was a performance where the lads gave everything, they just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net.
"We had a lot of chances, so I couldn't say that our focus was distracted at any point.
"We would have loved to have come into this game with three points from Saturday, unfortunately we didn't, but we can't let that detract from tomorrow night, or change the way we approach it because I want the lads to enjoy it, relish it.
"We've won a lot of games, there's been a lot of extra times and we've overcome a lot of challenges to get to this point."
Parkinson's key word during Monday's press conference at the club's Apperley Bridge training facility was "enjoyment", while the previous round's heroics against Arsenal have given his players a belief they can spring another huge upset.
"We're very excited," said Parkinson. "We've worked really hard to get to this stage and we're going to enjoy it.
"It's a tremendous achievement by everybody at the club. It's the first time in the club's history to be at this stage of the competition.
"It's going to be a tough challenge, but our aim tomorrow is to get to the second leg in two weeks' time still in the game."
The Bradford manager accepts a two-legged tie favours Paul Lambert's Villa, but knows what it takes to beat Premier League opposition.
"We've just shown the lads some footage from the Arsenal game, to remind them of the discipline and the shape of the team and how well we worked as a unit in that game," he said.
"But also, when we won the ball back we played with a calmness and that's important because we know that if you keep giving Premier League teams the ball back, it becomes a long night.
"We've got to be up for the game, committed, we've got to use the crowd to take us on to another level, but also we've got to play with that composure and calmness in possession.
"The lads have shown that they can compete against the best teams, we also know we have to be right at our best and Aston Villa will have to be well below par for us to progress, but anything can be achieved and we've got a group of lads who are going to relish the challenge."