Phil Parkinson: Sheffield United cup clash can help put Wrexham ‘back on the football map’
Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson says Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Sheffield United is another significant step in putting the National League outfit “firmly back on the football map”.
Parkinson’s men welcome the Blades to the Racecourse Ground in round four after pulling off a major third-round upset, winning 4-3 at Sheffield United’s fellow Championship side Coventry.
The Red Dragons, currently top of the fifth tier as they bid to return to the Football League after a 15-year absence, have had considerable attention on them in recent years following their takeover by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2020, and being the subject of the ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s tie, Parkinson told a press conference: “There will be live TV cameras here, which is fantastic for the profile of the club.
“The owners, since they have come in, and all of us together are working hard to put Wrexham firmly back on the football map, and this is a great step in that direction.
“We wanted a home tie because I just feel the Racecourse deserves a special FA Cup game, and we’ve got it, it’s going to be a cracking atmosphere. This place is full for the league games, but there’s always a special feel about FA Cup football.”
Regarding Hollywood A-list actor Reynolds and McElhenney, the creator and star of American TV comedy series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, added: “I’ll probably hear from them before the game, and obviously they’ll be following the match.
“They watch every game home and away in the National League over in America, and do make the odd trip over. They’ll be wishing us all the best, with a clear understanding that it’s a great day for the club.
“Obviously we’ve had history in the FA Cup in past years, and it’s great for us to represent the club in the right way so far in this competition.”
Parkinson says Wrexham – who famously shocked Arsenal in the FA Cup third round in 1992 with a 2-1 win at the Racecourse Ground – are enjoying having underdog status in the competition this season, with the opposite applying in their league games.
“In the league, everybody plays the underdog card against us, both home and away, and tries to make things as difficult as possible for us with their game plans,” said Parkinson.
“So it was great to go to Coventry really with nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it’s the same this weekend.
“The cup is a bonus for us, it’s a welcome distraction from the league, a mental break from that, and we go in there with absolutely nothing to lose. We just want to represent ourselves well on the day.”
Paul Heckingbottom’s Sheffield United are second in the Championship, and Parkinson said: “They have a lot of players who have played in the Premier League. We wanted a test, and we’ve certainly got one. It’s going to be a great test for us, and it’s one we’re really looking forward to.”
Parkinson, manager at Bradford during their memorable run to the 2012-13 League Cup final and FA Cup win at Chelsea in 2015, added: “You have to be prepared to ruffle a few feathers all over the pitch to cause cup upsets.
“We have to make it as difficult as possible, and if Sheffield United ultimately come off the pitch and they have gone through, I want them to come off and say ‘that was tough’. We want to make sure if they do get through, they earn it every step of the way.”
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