BRADFORD CITY manager Phil Parkinson has urged everyone associated with the club to pull together – with a dream year for the Bantams fizzling out in a major way.
Parkinson and his City side have been feted throughout football for their stellar exploits in 2013 which saw them become the first team from the Football League’s bottom division to reach a major cup final at Wembley and follow up with promotion at the home of football in a play-off final.
But memories of those heady days are starting to fade on the back of a dispiriting run of just one victory in their past 13 matches.
The Bantams are without a home league victory since the end of September and compounding matters is a mini selection crisis up front, with James Hanson and Andy Gray missing the Boxing Day derby loss to Rotherham United – and 17-year-old Oliver McBurnie handed his first start against the Millers.
Parkinson, who won the Football League’s Outstanding Managerial Achievement Award last spring after taking City to the Capital One Cup final in 2012-13, said: “We have had some good times over the past 18 months and these are the real difficult ones for us as we are struggling.
“But we need to pull together; that’s myself, the players and the supporters because what it’s all about being a supporter, manager and a player is sticking together.
“You stick together through the bad times and enjoy the good times together.
“We have had plenty of those good times and now we are having a tough time and I have got to find a way out of that with the team and we will certainly do that.”
City’s loss to Rotherham saw the gap between themselves and the League One play-off positions increase to eight points, although Parkinson insists thoughts of the top-six tilt aren’t currently on his agenda as he aims to stop a drama lurching into a full-blown crisis.
Parkinson, whose 11th-placed side welcome seventh-placed Swindon Town tomorrow to Valley Parade, added: “Believe you me, I am not looking at the play-offs at the moment.
“After just losing at home, I am looking at putting in a hard-working display against Swindon.
“Maybe our start to the season, when we did start terrifically well, has given everybody false belief. Of course, we want to get there – we do.
“But we just need to get this show back on the road and get a victory from somewhere.
“We were poor against Rotherham and we can’t hide away from it. We made basic errors in terms of our decision-making.
“We always say to our lads about the importance of effort and commitment. But it’s about calmness as well.”
All the weekend’s football previews: Pages 2-5.