Bradford City v Bolton Wanderers: Bantams aim to get just reward at the expense of Phil Parkinson

Romaine Vincelot is expecting a physical contest as former manager Phil Parkinson brings Bolton to Valley Parade (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Romaine Vincelot is expecting a physical contest as former manager Phil Parkinson brings Bolton to Valley Parade (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
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AS a self-confessed Anglophile, a beefy footballing contest brimful of northern soul is perfect for Romaine Vincelot.

The Frenchman, who has found home and happiness in Yorkshire with Bradford City, is not expecting much Gallic flair on show this afternoon when former manager Phil Parkinson makes his eagerly-awaited first return to Valley Parade with Bolton Wanderers.

It is a Roses joust with added piquancy – but maybe a time for cool heads and keeping emotions in check too? “Yes, but not too cool,” was the instant response from the man from Poitiers.

Big games come with the territory for City and it is something you have to get used to, especially on home soil.

But some games really are bigger than others – as most definitely is today’s, with the Parkinson factor supplemented by the return of City’s former backroom members Steve Parkin, Lee Butler, Nick Allamby and Matt Barrass, and ex-chief scout Tim Breacker.

Recently-transferred Filipe Morais also finds himself back at BD8 on a day for reunions along with a couple of former loanees. It really is that sort of day.

Some 47 miles may separate the Macron Stadium and Valley Parade, but the game will assume a derby level of intensity and ferocious commitment and Vincelot, who recently revealed it was Eric Cantona’s infamous kung-fu kick that first attracted him to English football, cannot wait for the kick-off.

On whether his ‘big-game’ competitive juices are already flowing, Vincelot said: “I try to always have it. Because all games have to mean everything to us and, for me personally, I love that feeling and try to always have it.

“Of course, when there is a game at home, it is easy because there is always a big crowd and on Saturday it will be massive and a massive help.

“It will be a game like Scunthorpe and Sheffield United with a bit extra because of the position of Bolton (third) in the table and our position (fifth). It is the kind of game you want to play in, for sure.

“It is special like Sheffield United and a big game and the atmosphere I am sure I will love.”

Specifically on the subject of Parkinson’s return, he added: “For him, it will be big and for the fans as well, but, for me, it does not make any difference.

“The club will be behind us massively because of the game and maybe because of the manager.

“You can see that there is something between both sets of fans. But, as a player, Saturday will be a big game in the same way as the next 14 will be.

“It will be a challenging game as they are a big, physical side, so it is up to us to be ready for it.”

It will come as a surprise to no one that City’s two previous high-octane Valley Parade encounters against the Blades and Scunthorpe ended in draws – as did the trip to the Macron Stadium for a tense stalemate on September 24.

All told, Bradford’s tally of 15 league draws so far in 2016-17 is the highest number in all of the top four divisions in England, with their haul of 10 at home being a particularly stark one.

Plenty of frustration has arrived along the way, although the disquiet was something altogether different on Tuesday when City somehow contrived to take nothing away from their game at Fleetwood, when they let three points slip from their grasp after leading 1-0 en route to a painful and inexplicable 2-1 defeat on the Fylde coast.

It somewhat compounded the sense of anguish following their plethora of draws this term.

But Vincelot believes that perspective needs to be afforded, given Bradford’s league position of fifth, which remains healthy, even if it could – and perhaps should – be significantly better.

He said: “We need to get what we deserve and there have been too many occasions where we have dropped points and, if you look at the whole season, it has been a frustration.

“But, in saying that, we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and we see we are right there.

“We need to take the frustration and try to address the little bit which isn’t going our way –but still be very positive because of where we are, which is a good position.

“The Tuesday game was very hard to take, but that is football and you have to bounce back very quickly and this is the kind of occasion that lifts you up naturally.

“We need a win, for sure, just to feel better. Now is the time to get what we deserve.”