Issue #6 Next to Parkinson in the best or times and the worst of times

As told by Michael Wood

The greatest success of Phil Parkinson’s time at Bradford City came on the day he lead the team out for a League Cup final against Swansea City but it did not happen at Wembley stadium or during the game but after when the City manager addressed his players.

At some post-game party – if party is the right word after being beaten 5-0 – Parkinson told the players, the player’s wives, the club officials, and anyone with YouTube that the success of the season was not in that trip to the capital but the one that would come after in the play-off final. “Eleven cup finals” formed an especially cogent part of it.

Parkinson’s success last season was to take a team which was idling in the middle of League Two and – because of two hard earned penalty shoot out victories – convince them that they were far better than the position in the division suggested. And once Parkinson convinced the players they were better, they played better, and so they got better results which Parkinson used.

We could call this a Parkinson Loop if we wanted to.

We often talk about managers being good or bad but seldom are we able to say what they are good at. Parkinson is good at creating a sum of the experiences of the players and turning them into a shared belief in the squad. He recycles the experience from games into belief in the squad, and he seems to be good at it.

And so the fight against Crawley Town became the birth or a team spirit. The defeat to Burton Albion became a chance to show character. The loss of Nahki Wells is the rest of the squad showing their abilities. Indeed James Hanson has responded with a goal in each game since Wells’ exit.

And perhaps the outcome of this fruitless spell of games will be similarly positive. Parkinson will tell the players that if they can stay together through this barren run they can stay together through anything and when the self-righting nature of football form addresses the results then City will be all the stronger.

Which is the opposite of Paul Jewell’s modus operandi which was to treat each game – Premier League games mostly – as discreet and heavy defeat in one having no influence on the next and perhaps we might wonder if that part of this idea of being a good manager is not that you do something that is “right” just that you do something effectively.

All of which points to a reason to retain Parkinson’s services when there is an increasingly grumble about the number of wins in the last few months. The experience of Parkinson is that he wins, or he takes defeats and makes them into wins, and that the worst of times feed into the best.

And at some point that will end one suspects and Parkinson’s abilities to spin gold from straw will fade but why rush to that conclusion now when the past few years have shown the capacity to make bad times feed into the good?