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Bradford City a 'pleasure to watch' under Phil Parkinson
Phil Parkinson has put Bradford City back on the map – by transforming the club more than any other manager.
That is the view of joint-chairman Julian Rhodes as Parkinson takes charge of his 100th league game at Preston tonight.
City head into the Deepdale match against their play-off rivals trying to respond to successive 1-0 defeats that have jolted their fast start to the League One campaign.
But Rhodes has hailed the huge progress made since Parkinson took the helm and thanked him for creating a team that is “a pleasure to watch”.
Rhodes said: “I can remember a long time ago being in a pub where the band started singing ‘City til July’.
“The perception was that we were always a day away from closure. We’d become a bit of a laughing stock.
“Now we’re the ones with all the fans, the great atmosphere, the team that have been to a cup final. It’s a great time to be a Bradford City supporter – and that’s all come from what Phil has done.
“You could argue he has had the biggest transformation out of any manager the club have ever had.
“He came in with the brief just to keep us in the Football League. That’s how poor we were and the state we were in.
“Look back to his first game away at Morecambe when we got a dramatic 94th-minute equaliser. That team compared with now is unrecognisable and that’s only two years ago.
“I think we are respected throughout the country on the back of what happened last year and the way Phil’s turned us round.
“I was looking at some national press clippings from the play-off final. They were very complimentary, basically saying Bradford City have become a club that people want to do well.
“It’s all on the back of Phil because he’s instilled a great work ethic and team spirit and also managed to get that into the stands as well.”
A travelling army of over 2,000 will follow the Bantams to West Lancashire after 750 made the 500-mile round trip to Saturday’s defeat at Crawley. Rhodes believes Parkinson has finally given them a club that is once again worthy of such weight of support.
He said: “Our fans have been great all the way through but they’ve really bought into what Phil’s trying to achieve. He has completely turned the club around.
“We’ve always felt that if this day ever came, we would get even bigger crowds – and we’re getting far more now than we ever had in League One before.
“And if we do at some point get into the Championship, I do think we’ll be getting 20,000-plus. We’re on that upward curve and everyone’s buying into it.
“For years, I would hear other chairman saying how amazing our fans were, considering the team was doing so poorly. They’d still turn out in their thousands, even though the results were bad.
“Now there’s admiration not just for the fans but for the team, which is wonderful.
“It’s a pleasure to watch us nowadays, having been through those situations where you dreaded another defeat knowing you’d be scrapping at the wrong end of League Two again.
“That’s a terrible situation to be in, knowing the implications of going out of the league. But it’s all changed.
“Every manager that’s been in for the last ten years or so has said how much they want to realise the potential here. This sleeping giant is very much awake and Phil is the one who’s actually done it.”
Preston clambered above the Bantams into fourth place at the weekend with a 2-1 win at Gillingham to spoil Peter Taylor’s return to management. With Wolves visiting Valley Parade on Saturday, City’s top-six credentials are being seriously tested.
Rhodes said: “We’re very happy with where we are at the moment but these are very difficult games. Let’s hope we’re still in and among the play-off positions afterwards.
“It would be great if we could maintain a promotion push this season. It’s a tall order but if anyone can do it, it’s Phil.”
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