“Three years was the minimum we wanted. We’re aiming to go back up the divisions and we want Phil to be the man leading us.” Julian Rhodes
By Jason McKeown
Phil Parkinson has finally ended months of speculation by today pledging his future to Bradford City, with the signing of a three-year contract. Along with his assistant, Steve Parkin, and fitness guru, Nick Allamby, Parkinson is being tasked with completing City’s climb back to the Championship.
Even before Saturday, Parkinson had more than proved himself as the man to take City forwards. The job he has performed, since taking charge in September 2011, is nothing short of spectacular. Not only evidenced by the league table and remarkable cup run, but the way that he has transformed attitudes and standards on and off the field.
Parkinson is huge on character and told me that he ranks this quality even above a player’s ability. He has successfully blended together a talented squad of hungry and motivated players, who have delivered incredible results over a marathon season. Mark Lawn’s comments in the T&A that Parkinson turned down the chance to sign a striker mid-season, because of his potential to disrupt the dressing room, tells you everything about the man and his ethics. This group of players, to a man, have given everything to this club. Parkinson has instilled that culture and environment.
The contract negotiations have taken a while to conclude, with numerous rumours of clubs interested in Parkinson’s services. Width of a Post understands that the sticking points were the way in which the contract was originally drafted, and Parkinson’s insistence Parkin and Allamby’s contracts were sorted out at exactly the same time. In addition, the health issues with Parkinson’s agent and Julian Rhodes’ selling of his business have slowed progress. Yet what has been clear, since Parkinson arrived, is that the chairmen and City manager have a strong bond. Whatever doubts and fears us supporters, and even players, have carried over the last few weeks, crucially this was not the case between those at the sharp end of the negotiations.
That Parkinson has signed for three years is also notable. It is the longest managerial contract City have given out since Colin Todd signed for five years in 2005. It represents a clear statement of intent by the club – that they recognise the importance of the stability Parkinson has delivered. After Todd almost completed three years in the hotseat, his sacking, and replacement of David Wetherall as caretaker, saw mid-table City slump to relegation. Stability returned under Stuart McCall, before the Bantams quickly went through two managers and on the field went backwards. There’s a repeated lesson, which has thankfully being taken on board.
Parkinson has reversed City’s 12-year slump and delivered impressive success. He is the club’s biggest asset, and so tying him down for so long provides us with the best possible chance of continuing our upwards curve.
Undoubtedly the goal will be for Parkinson’s new deal to run out with City a Championship club. There is talk of back-to-back promotions, but that is a big ask. More realistically, Parkinson has three seasons to get us promoted out of League One or at least ensure that we are challenging at the top end of the table. There will inevitably be bumps in the road, but the Chairmen need to back their judgement and stay the course with him.
Today’s news suggests that they have every intention of doing so.