Bradford City reaping the rewards of Parkinson’s three-year education at Colchester (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford City reaping the rewards of Phil Parkinson’s three-year education at Colchester
Phil Parkinson prepares to face the club that put him on the managerial map tomorrow, admitting: Colchester made me the boss I am.
The City chief has won plaudits for his tactical nous during their amazing ascent over the past year.
Parkinson credits that astute approach to his early hot-seat days when he was given his first job in Essex.
He enjoyed a hugely successful three-year reign with the unfashionable U’s, taking them into the Championship in front of the smallest crowds in the division.
Parkinson said: “We had a great journey. We changed the culture of the club and improved things year on year.
“We gradually moved up the table, had some great cup runs and memories like playing Chelsea away, culminating in getting promotion. That was terrific for a club of Colchester’s size.”
Life president Peter Heard, Colchester’s chairman at the time, went with a “hunch” when he gave the untried Parkinson his chance in 2003.
He also taught the rookie manager that every little factor counts – something he preaches at Valley Parade.
“It was out of the blue,” said Parkinson. “I was still playing and helping coach the reserves at Reading when he gave me the opportunity. I’ll always thank him for that.
“I learned so much there because Mr Heard is a very shrewd man.
“He let me get on with it but he also taught me that every pound note had to be watched. If you gave a player £20 more in his contract, it had to be found from somewhere else.
“Every penny counted at Colchester. They looked after the books to keep the club alive on gates of 2-3,000 at the time.
“I’d say it’s a good grounding for any manager to start off at a club like Colchester where you look to make any difference you can with the little things, whether it’s on the training ground with fitness or your homework on the opposition.
“The problem Colchester will always have is attracting the crowds. It’s 20 miles up the road from Ipswich and then you’ve got the London clubs in easy reach.
“But I had a great time there and my family enjoyed living in the area. We’ve still got friends there.”
Colchester have moved on since Parkinson’s departure seven years ago, including a new stadium. But there is still a strong connection with the present coaching team.
U’s boss Joe Dunne was youth-team manager under Parkinson and assistant Mark Kinsella was his number two at Charlton.
And Parkinson knows exactly how fired up they will be to prevent City making it four home wins on the bounce.
He added: “When I was manager there we used to play on the fact that ‘little old Colchester’ were coming to town. That’s what we must be careful of.
“People might take them lightly but, in my eyes, Colchester are probably a better team than Sheffield United at this stage.
“They did a great job to keep the club in the division last year, which was not easy. They started this season well but have had a few injuries that have disrupted things slightly.
“We’ve got to be at our best tomorrow and supporters have got to make the atmosphere exactly the same as it has been. Anything less from ourselves or the crowd won’t be enough.
“I think it will be a really good game. The lads are in a good place and we’re almost having to hold them back in training.”
City have been linked with a possible loan move for Bolton striker Tom Eaves, who scored against them last season for Bristol Rovers. The Championship side have indicated they are willing to let him go.
But Parkinson has been delighted with Oliver’s response to his first appearance in nearly a year.
He said: “Luke has had a smile on his face all week and is definitely getting there.
“It’s your livelihood and players at this level need to be playing to pay the bills. Eleven months out can be a crushing blow mentally.
“But I’ve got to say Luke has kept his spirits up remarkably well.
Comments are closed on this article.