Phil Parkinson keen to keep Bradford City's momentum going

Phil Parkinson's Bantams are the form team in League OnePhil Parkinson's Bantams are the form team in League One
Phil Parkinson's Bantams are the form team in League One
A FAMILIAR call at this time of year from managers whose sides are destined for the play-offs is a need to build up some momentum.

Common consent suggests that the clubs heading into the promotion deciders on the back of a strong run will prosper, while those whose form tails off in the final few weeks of the regular season will not.

If that maxim is to prove the case in League One this term then Bradford City are in the best of shapes right now.

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Not only could tomorrow bring the confirmation of a place in the top six, but no other team in League One has taken more points from the last 10 games than the in-form Bantams.

Even champions-elect Wigan Athletic cannot match the 22 points Phil Parkinson’s men have plundered from a possible 30 
during the run-in, a fact that points to a team that is hitting form at just the right time of the season.

Parkinson insists no-one at Valley Parade is looking any further than tomorrow’s trip to Southend United. Nevertheless, the City manager does admit that if his players can return from Roots Hall with a play-off place sealed then there really will be a “real buzz about the place”.

“It is in our own hands and we want to finish the job off,” said Parkinson to The Yorkshire Post yesterday at the club’s training base in Apperley Bridge. “We would like to do it off our own bat this weekend. We don’t want to have to rely on other teams.

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“The most important thing is we maintain the standards we have set recently. Over a long period of time, we have produced the performances and the points. But my job from now to kick-off at Southend is to remind all the lads what we have done well and what we need to reproduce.”

City head to Roots Hall knowing just one more win from the final two games will be enough to book the club’s place in the top six.

Even defeat to Phil Brown’s men could see the Bantams qualify, as if two from Barnsley, Gillingham and Scunthorpe United fail to take all three points then the West Yorkshire club will be in the play-offs.

If that happens and the season is extended into May it will continue five consecutive years of progression under Parkinson. Appointed in August, 2011, the 48-year-old has overseen an improvement in league position in each and every season with the Bantams finishing seventh in 2014-15.

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Throw in the run to the League Cup final in 2013 and there can be little doubt the giant strides Bradford have taken under Parkinson.

“We are on the verge,” added the City chief who also led the club to promotion from League Two via the play-offs in 2013. “We just want to stay really focused.

“We are very capable on our day, as we have shown this season. And if we can get over the line this weekend, there will be a real buzz about the place.

“You can sense it already. The intensity of the training is really good and the lads are enjoying it. There is nothing worse than when a season just peters out.

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“That is why it is just great to be involved in the shake-up. That was our aim and now we want to get over the finish line.”

Standing between City and the guaranteeing of a play-off place are a Southend side whose season has badly tailed off in recent weeks.

Before being beaten 2-0 at Valley Parade in mid-February, the Shrimpers were very much in the promotion mix. However, as Bradford have prospered over the past ten games, Southend have done the opposite to collect just eight points from a possible 30.

The slump has come amid speculation that former Hull City manager Brown is wanted by Bolton Wanderers ahead of their return to the third tier.

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“Phil Brown can’t do anything about that,” said Parkinson, when asked if he felt the links had played a part in Southend’s slump in form. “The main thing from our point of view is we go down there and do the job.”

City last won promotion from the third tier 20 years ago, Chris Kamara’s side gatecrashing the play-offs with a late run that took the club to 73 points and sixth place.

That tally has already been beaten by Parkinson’s men, whose challenge now is to not only guarantee a top-six berth but also finish as high as possible.

As it stands with two games remaining, City are on course to meet Millwall over two legs in the play-off semi-finals with the first game at Valley Parade.

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If Bradford want home advantage in the return, however, they must move up at least one place in the table, overhauling either the Lions or third-placed Walsall to do so.

“Initially, we just want to be in the play-offs when we are sitting on the coach on the way back from Southend,” said Parkinson, who has a slight injury doubt over Lee Evans (knee) ahead of the trip to Essex.

“Then we will start having discussions about where is best to finish. But, at the moment, let’s make sure we get there.”