Atkinson wins over Bradford City fans with ‘Messi-like’ displays (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Will Atkinson wins over Bradford City fans with ‘Messi-like’ displays
It will be 11 days since Will Atkinson last stepped on a football pitch.
That must seem like a holiday break for one of City’s busiest performers of this non-stop season.
Atkinson was one of those first-teamers spared FA Cup duty at Brentford. And with the Wycombe game then falling victim to the weekend wash-out, he has had a longer than expected opportunity to recharge his batteries.
The 24-year-old midfielder, like so many in Phil Parkinson’s squad, had earned that little break. As with Luke Oliver last term, if there was a mid-term award for most improved City player then its destiny would be obvious.
Atkinson has succeeded in winning over his many Valley Parade doubters to such an extent that some fans have even cheekily christened him the Bantams’ answer to Lionel Messi!
The turnaround from one-time whipping boy to favourite has been dramatic but fully deserved. On a night of fine performances against Arsenal, his display of skill and sheer energy was top of the lot.
No wonder he has already made 30 appearances – pretty impressive for someone most thought would be restricted to filling-in duties for others.
Atkinson said: “It’s a little bit daunting to have played that many games by Christmas. But of course you want to be playing every week.
“The staff are good to us and they look after everyone when we’re not playing. They don’t push us too hard when we need to rest and know how to treat our recovery.
“It’s going well so far but there is such a long way to go. We’ve still got goals as a team and individually.
“But if you said we’d be sitting top seven at Christmas, in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and still in the JP Trophy with a chance of going to Wembley, I’d personally have taken it.
“I’m sure that’s the same with everyone involved with Bradford – but there’s still a lot more to come.
“Imagine if we go to Wembley twice! You never know what might happen.
“But we’ll keep taking every game individually. We’ve enjoyed the cup games but the league will always be our priority.”
City’s home form ranks among the best in the division with 23 points from 11 games and they will be confident of extending that against traditional bogey side Accrington this afternoon.
Parkinson said: “We’re all looking forward to playing at home again. Everyone enjoys the Boxing Day game because of the atmosphere and it’s a bit of a local derby.
“We’ve done a hell of a lot of travelling recently so it’s good to be back on our home pitch. Let’s hope we can get our Christmas period going in good style.”