PHIL PARKINSON knows all about the expectation that follows a thrilling cup run for a lower league side.
So, when Sheffield United were last summer tipped by bookmakers and pundits alike to dominate League One this term, the Bradford City manager allowed himself a wry smile.
The reality, of course, has been rather different to what the pundits suggested with the Blades due to visit Valley Parade tomorrow sitting 10th in the table.
Parkinson, however, is full of admiration for the job Nigel Clough has done since succeeding David Weir almost exactly a year ago.
He said: “Nigel did an incredible job last season. People forget that they got all that way in the FA Cup and turned things round in the league. He transformed their season and on the back of that the expectation was built ahead of this year.
“But, at the start of last season, they were tipped as one of the favourites so it is nothing knew for their club.
“It was great to watch and almost emulated what we had done the previous season in getting to the (2013) League Cup final. Like us, they kept grinding out the results and finished really well.”
City will host their South Yorkshire rivals sitting one point and four places higher in the table.
They will, though, go into the clash on the back of a disappointing defeat to Barnsley in last Sunday’s derby.
Parkinson was critical of his players in the wake of losing 3-1 at Oakwell, accusing Bradford of not approaching the game in the right frame of mind.
But, after a few days’ reflection, the City chief believes some perspective is needed about what was his side’s first away league defeat of the season.
He added: “It was 45 minutes and people do get carried away. Emotions run high when you lose any game, but especially a Yorkshire derby. We have to put it into perspective, that was the first defeat on our travels.
“We would love to win every game but that just isn’t possible. We weren’t the best team on the day, simple as that.
“Looking at last Sunday, we were livid to lose to a team who had spent the past eight years in the Championship. We had been expected to go there and win.
“Standing back brings a bit of clarity. Which is, basically, that we hadn’t played Barnsley for eight years because we weren’t good enough to play them. They were in a higher league than us.”