Football: Bradford manager Phil Parkinson has broken with convention by claiming he would take a cup triumph over league success.
Parkinson’s task at the start of the season was to execute a rebuilding exercise that would begin the process of restoring Bradford to their former status as a Premier League club.
As that experience almost killed the club first time round, no-one was expecting a repeat to be a quick process.
Yet Bradford’s present position of 11th in League Two would be a source of satisfaction for no-one had it not been for a quite extraordinary League Cup run, which reaches its climax against Swansea at Wembley on Sunday.
So far, Parkinson’s side have claimed three Premier League scalps in Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa.
And while some may prefer to talk about the bread and butter of weekly league combat, the 45-year-old from Chorley has his sights firmly set on the record books.
“All along the league has been our priority. I cannot hide away from that,” he said. “But we are in the final at Wembley and have a chance of getting into Europe.
“So I can honestly say now, if we had the choice of two things, it would have to be winning the cup. We are a League Two team. We have created history by getting this far. It would be truly amazing if we could pull it off.”
Of far greater importance though is investment to push the club forward, with the present run having already cleared historic debts that have dragged Bradford down since the days of Benito Carbone, Stan Collymore and the Premier League.
“The chairman has done a great job clearing the debts but now it is their job — and mine — to ensure this extra revenue is used to keep improving the structure of the club and make sure our supporters have a club that will flourish in years to come,” Parkinson added.
“As much as we want to enjoy this weekend, it is really important this revenue is used wisely. I am sure it will be.”
All the pressure will be on Premier League side Swansea, though in Michael Laudrup the Welsh club have a manager who knows what it takes to win at Wembley.
In 1983, Laudrup was part of the first Denmark side to taste victory over England, thanks to Allan Simonsen’s penalty. The Dane also famously featured for Barcelona’s “Dream Team” when they recorded the Catalan club’s first European Cup success against Sampdoria in 1992.
A Swansea victory on Sunday would see the Welsh club secure the first major trophy in their centenary season, and Laudrup said: “I had two very good days at Wembley, although that was the old ground. They were two huge results and I hope Sunday will be the third.”
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