Us Bradford City fans aren’t having a very good week. We’re in a bit of a panic. This summer is proving to be just as nervy and terrifying as the last few moments of one of your magical cup games.
You see, we keep hearing stories that you might be joining Sheffield United. The bookies seem to think it is happening because you have been the favourite for the past week or so. The bookies often get it right. Please tell us they’re wrong.
We buried our head in the sand and hoped it would go away and that the bookies had it wrong. Then this morning we learned that the Blades had made a formal approach. So far, there has been a worrying silence from you.
Phil, I know that an offer from Sheffield United must be tempting. They are a decent enough club with a good following. They have some good players and a bit of cash to spend. As a consummate professional, I’m sure you’d carefully weigh up any approach regardless of who they are.
However, there are so many reasons why you mustn’t go.
Firstly, look at what you are building here. Do you want to let all that go now? You are single-handedly responsible for bringing a smile back to Valley Parade. Under your management, Bradford City is once again a team that the fans are proud of. When you took over things were as low as they could be. We were the laughing stock of Yorkshire. All that has changed, and it is thanks to you.
Since the day you joined, being a Bradford City fan has been a joy. You have guided us to a promotion, led us on two magical cup runs, and you have built a team in your name – committed, passionate, disciplined, honest, talented and likeable. This is a team that we love, under a manager we love. You could argue, based on recent exploits, that we are now the pride of Yorkshire. That again, is thanks to you.
We are progressing all the time. That journey is incomplete. You know it.
Consistently in football is crucial. The game is spoiled by short-termism and the dreaded hire and fire culture. You are the sixth-longest serving manager in the football league. Since you joined Bradford City, Sheffield United have changed manager four times. It will be five soon. Hopefully you will not be that man. Do you want to join a club where the manager is deemed so expendable? Their latest manager took to the club to the playoffs and was axed. Be under no illusion, if you don’t achieve promotion with them, you’re joining the dole queue next May. Perhaps before if things do not go right.
You are loved at Bradford City. A recent poll by Bantams Banter put you head and shoulders above any other manager in the club’s history. You beat Paul Jewell, who took us up to, and kept us in the Premiership. You beat Peter O’Rourke, who won the FA Cup in 1911. You beat them all. For us, you beat everyone, every time. You are, as we keep on singing, the special one.
At Sheffield United, your stock is nothing of the sort. You’re the unspecial one. Most Sheffield United fans I have seen do not even want you. They regard you as a ‘hoofball’ manager. ‘Anyone but Parkinson’ I’ve read on more than one occasion. From seeing you on the touchline, you’re obviously a bullish fellow and would relish that challenge –but why join a club where you’re not wanted by the fans and the board are hanging around outside your door with a sword. How apt that they’re called the Blades.
The thought of Bradford City without you as manager is a painful one, Phil. We know you will go one day, and we will wish you all the best when you do. I would wish you all the best if you left for Sheffield United, but it would be soured with a massive sense of disappointment. Disappointment at you leaving, but also disappointment at what could only be described as a sideways move. Sheffield United are another League One club, no matter what their fans says about their history and crowd size. If you leave, you’re better than another League One side. We know it. You know it.
Phil, the takeover stuff may not sit well with you and there may be much that we don’t know. But what we all know is that with you on the touchline, our club is in the very best hands. In fact, when I say our club I actually mean ‘your’ club. You deserve that because you gave the club its soul back when you joined. Please don’t pass it on now.