Phil Parkinson's is not a name that tends to crop up when future England managers are discussed, though in one sense at least the Bradford City coach might be an ideal candidate. His side boast a proud record, and it is an English record, of winning their last eight penalty shootouts, and no City fan would mind in the slightest were the run to be extended to nine in Tuesday night's Capital One Cup quarter-final against Arsenal.
The Bantams seem to be specialising in quirky records and stats at the moment, since they have still to lose a cup tie this season – including the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, where they have reached the northern area semi-final stage – yet appear destined to go out of the FA Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their second-round draw with Brentford.
"It's annoying, because we specifically went for a player [Curtis Good] who would be eligible to play in cup competitions," Parkinson explained. "The first thing I checked with Alan Pardew was whether Curtis would be available because three of our next four games were in the cups. It was just an administrative oversight that's not been picked up. It's harsh, and we are appealing, but the FA are very black and white with these things. At least we have already had plenty of cup success this season. If we go out we'll take it on the chin and move on, if we get to play the replay we'll give it a good go."
Bradford also intend to give it a good go against Arsenal in front of a sell-out crowd at Valley Parade. Victory on Saturday against Torquay took them to fourth place in League Two, so Parkinson has given the players permission to go for glory against the Gunners.
"Up until this week there had been no mention of the word Arsenal," he said. "The subject was banned at the training ground because I didn't want the lads to lose focus on the league or worry themselves about the extra demand for tickets. We got the job done against Torquay, and now the Arsenal game is here there's a good feel about the place, a lot of excitement.
"I couldn't get the players off the training ground this morning, and that's just how it should be. We earned ourselves a glamour tie with our victory at Wigan, and I want to players to fully enjoy the increased exposure."
The Bradford supporters are already enjoying the club's cup run and present league form. The Bantams regularly play to the largest crowds in the bottom division, a 25,000 sell-out on Tuesday night means they should record their biggest attendance for more than 50 years [the stadium was still being redeveloped during their Premier League years a decade ago] and they managed to take an impressive 5,500 travelling supporters to Wigan in the last round.
"The supporters are different class here, and the atmosphere for league games is terrific," Parkinson said. "I told all the players I signed in summer that the club had great support and a lot of potential, and when we beat Wigan in front of a full end of away fans I think they saw what I meant.
"Not too many clubs at this level can do that, and the way the Arsenal game sold out so quickly shows the sort of loyal support within the city. I don't think the players are going to freeze due to the occasion either. We know we are up against a side who scored seven against Reading and six against Coventry, but we are a confident bunch of players and we will be looking to show that."
Confidence, Parkinson reckons, is also the key to penalty shootout success, which is what earned Bradford their crack at a Champions League side in the first place. "We do practise penalties, I don't mind admitting that," the former Hull and Charlton manager said. "It's important not to over-practise, you don't want to make too big a thing of it, but it's part of cup football now so you might as well take a few penalties in training as the games come around.
"All I can say about our record is that we are confident in the situation. Both our goalkeepers as well as the penalty takers have done really well and built up a level of confidence through repeated success. Working on your technique never does any harm, but the biggest thing is confidence."