Bradford City eye better fortunes

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A YEAR ago, Phil Parkinson was scouting for Arsenal and casting his eye over some of the world’s most promising talents.

A YEAR ago, Phil Parkinson was scouting for Arsenal and casting his eye over some of the world’s most promising talents.

Offered the post by Arsene Wenger following his departure from Charlton Athletic, the one-time Reading midfielder was charged with the task of identifying possible targets for the north London giants.

Last summer, those duties included attending the highly-regarded Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, a tournament that helped introduce youngsters by the name of Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes to the wider world, and the Nike Cup in Manchester.

Parkinson relished the role, as he watched Mexico claim a notable double as their national Under-19s side triumphed in Northern Ireland and club side Pachuca won at Old Trafford.

Targets were identified and passed on to Arsene Wenger, who then set to work the club’s considerable resources in trying to bring a couple of those targets to the Emirates Stadium.

Twelve months on, Parkinson has again been casting his eye over potential targets but this time the stakes have, in terms of the buck stopping with him, risen.

Instead of trying to entice some of the globe’s finest talents to north London, the 44-year-old has been frantically trying to bring the players in who he feels can reverse the decline that has seen Bradford City slide from the Premier League to the lower reaches of the Football League in a little over a decade.

And while trying to bolster a League Two squad may be a world away from watching some of the most talented youngsters in the world, the Bantams chief could not be happier.

“The summer has been hard work but I have enjoyed it,” said Parkinson, who left Arsenal a day after the club’s 8-2 hammering at Manchester United to take up the offer to succeed Peter Jackson at Valley Parade.

“I enjoyed last summer, too. I had left Charlton (in January) and was fortunate enough to join Arsenal (towards the end of the 2010-11 season).

“It meant a very busy time, going to Ireland and then Manchester for tournaments. People may have thought because I wasn’t in a management job that I was sitting at home but nothing could be further from the truth. And I really enjoyed it.

“Having said that, though, there is nothing to compare with trying to build your own team.

“I really enjoyed working for Arsenal, but this summer has been all about putting together a squad capable of taking this club back to where it belongs and I have loved that.

“We have worked hard to get the nucleus together. The challenge is what fires everyone in football.”

Almost a full team of new faces have arrived as City look to improve on another hugely disappointing season after finishing 18th for a second consecutive year.

Parkinson added: “We have made good progress in terms of what we have brought in. We now have a good nucleus in place, as we speak. But we always want more.

“As a squad, we were quite a way short of where we needed to be last year – as was shown by our final league position. So, I was under no illusion that we had to improve dramatically to get to where we want to be. We have missed out on a couple of targets but, overall, I am happy. Defensively, we let a few go and that left us very threadbare. We have rectified that.

“In midfield, we brought Gary Jones in to bring a bit more attacking threat into that area, while Garry Thompson also brings versatility, as he is able to play either up front or out wide.”

City are about to embark on their sixth season in the basement – the club’s longest run at this level since the Sixties – and supporters are hoping for some long overdue success.

It will, though, not be easy with League Two likely to be just as competitive as last year with Conference champions Fleetwood Town expected to make an immediate impression and challenge the sides who just missed out on promotion in May.

Parkinson added: “In this division, there are some clubs who have been active in the transfer marker this summer. Fleetwood and Chesterfield are a couple of those.

“It will be a competitive league once again and we have to be able to withstand the physical challenge.

“Having an extra derby following York’s promotion is good, too.

“Fans always enjoy them, plus last year this was quite a southern-based division so it is nice to have a couple of closer trips in York and Fleetwood.”

richard.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk

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