Phil Parkinson's leadership qualities hailed as he looks to lead Bradford City to famous victory over Premier League big guns

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City's commander at the helm Phil Parkinson, mocked up as Admiral Horatio Nelson ahead of tomorrow night's Battle of Villa Park City's commander at the helm Phil Parkinson, mocked up as Admiral Horatio Nelson ahead of tomorrow night's Battle of Villa Park

Shortly before heading into the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Horatio Nelson outlined his plans to good friend Lord Sidmouth and the other naval captains.

The collection of ideas, which became known as the Nelson Touch, stunned the assembled group according to reports “like an electric shock”.

They worked a treat and when the England Expects ensign was raised, the Franco-Spanish opposition had been vanquished.

In football terms, the potential invaders had been the hot pre-match favourites. But they were humbled by a cunning man with a cunning plan.

Now Bradford Expects the unthinkable. Repel the Premier League might again tomorrow night and City will set sail for Wembley.

They have their own super- confident commander at the helm. City’s stock within football has risen but that is nothing compared with the high esteem in which their manager is now being judged.

To steer a fourth-tier club to a major cup final would be unthinkable – a bolt from the blue like that reaction to Nelson over 200 years ago.

But maybe given the man whose hand is on the wheel, Bradford City’s incredible progress this season should not come as a complete shock.

Parkinson is one of the game’s deep thinkers. He is the most qualified manager outside of the Premier League, holding all the UEFA coaching badges.

He also has a BSc degree in social sciences from the Open University, which explains his ability to analyse each scenario and remain grounded regardless of the highs and lows that come with the territory in the most precarious of occupations.

When City were casting around for their next boss 17 months ago, his name kept cropping up. In the incestuous world of professional football, they know a good manager when they see one.

“It wasn’t just us talking about Phil but the football fraternity themselves,” said joint-chairman Mark Lawn. “People started ringing us and recommending him as the best man.

“The one thing they all said was that we were getting a very cool and calm manager who works very hard.”

Lawn ruffled a few feathers at the time by describing Parkinson as the first hard-working and intelligent manager he had been involved with.

But that phrase “cool and calm” pops up whenever City’s boss is discussed. Andy Gray played for Parkinson at Charlton before they were reunited with City a fortnight ago.

He said: “Phil is very clued up on his football and players and very thorough in what he does. Bradford aren’t going to get back up the leagues overnight but in Phil they’ve found the perfect person to lead them.”

The chance to be that man who revives City’s fortunes remains a powerful draw.

Stuart McCall was desperate to get it right off the field at the club where he will always be worshipped for what he achieved on it.

Peter Taylor dreamed of glory nights at Valley Parade and playing in front of packed houses.

Those flights of fancy have become reality this season under Parkinson with the never-to-be-forgotten evenings against Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Now one more emotional occasion at Villa Park stands between Parkinson’s City and their Wembley date with destiny.

Parkinson has just signed a Nelson, bruising centre half Michael from Kilmarnock. But his leadership qualities in taking City from first-round also-rans to semi-final hopefuls would be worthy of the old admiral himself.

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