Phil Parkinson has urged Bradford City to complete negotiations over new contracts "sooner rather than later", with the manager wanting stability ahead of taking a 3-1 lead to Aston Villa for the semi-final second leg of the Capital One Cup in two weeks' time.
While Parkinson warned Bradford "not to get carried away" after defeating Villa in the opening match at Valley Parade on Tuesday evening, his current contract expires in the summer. Of the prospective fresh deals, Parkinson said: "Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later, not just for me but for the staff as well. We want to tie up our best players on long-term deals and we want to sign some new players as well. So the sooner the management's future is sorted out the better."
As well as Parkinson, his assistant, Steve Parkin, the physio, Matt Barass, and the fitness coach, Nick Allamby are also out of contract in the summer. Players in the same situation include Gary Jones, the captain, his midfield partner, Nathan Doyle, and Andrew Davies, a centre-half who is currently injured.
Bradford stand on the brink of reaching the final at Wembley next month, the first fourth-tier club to do so since Rochdale in 1962. But asked if his side had all but reached the showpiece occasion, Parkinson said: "Not yet. It's important not to get carried away and respect Villa. We've got to go down to Villa Park and do it all again. [I am] absolutely delighted with the way we played – I thought the lads were tremendous. But equally we know we are only halfway there.
"I was asked if I'd take a draw before game and I said 'yes', but we set out to win the game. A draw wouldn't have been the worst scenario. But to go there two goals up is great. I asked the lads beforehand that, if Villa were going to get to Wembley, we had to make sure they earned it. That's what we set out to do and it's game on."
Goals from Nahki Wells, Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh were answered by Andreas Weimann's sole strike for Villa as Bradford added Paul Lambert's team to Wigan Athletic and Arsenal as Premier League sides beaten during the competition.
Parkinson said: "The crowd were absolutely fantastic and got an extra 15 to 20% from the players. You could visibly see that and we needed it because we were playing against a team several divisions higher than us with some great players. They created a tremendous atmosphere for us. These are the nights when [as] a young lad you dream of being a part of.
"At 2-1 [when Weimann scored on 82 minutes] their crowd got behind them. The way they came at us they fancied their chances of an equaliser. But we always looked dangerous on the counter and we proved that in the end. This topped Arsenal [beaten on penalties]. Against Arsenal it was a great night for us. But [against Villa], for our all-round performance, against a very attacking team, we had to defend really well.
"They left a lot of space on the pitch for us to play and I thought our quality players showed a calmness on the ball when they got a chance. I've got to let them enjoy it but when we come back in we'll have to work hard and get our minds focused on Oxford and Saturday because the league really is so important."
While Bradford are eighth on 40 points with only goal difference separating them from a play-off position, Matt Duke believes Villa were surprised by the quality of the team's play on the night. "I think so," he said. "They obviously watched us in the Arsenal game and saw how well we played. Maybe they did not expect us to do that again."
For the striker Gabriel Agbonlahor there was deflation at Villa's insipid performance though he pointed to the 7-4 win over Blackburn Rovers three years ago at the same stage, when having won the first leg 1-0, they conceded two early goals in the return. "We knew it was going to be tough coming here, especially on a big occasion," he said.
"I feel disappointed, we missed a lot of chances throughout the game that on another day would have went in. Full credit to Bradford – we are disappointed with the goals we conceded. We will look to put it right in the second leg. It is only half-time though over two legs and we will go out sharp and look to put it right.
"If you look at the Blackburn game, it was 6-4 so we are not out of it yet. We were 2-0 down but the fans got us through it."