WHEN Plymouth Argyle left Valley Parade fresh from being knocked out of the FA Cup in early December, nothing but a grim fight against relegation seemed to lie ahead.
The Pilgrims, already out of the Carabao Cup and Football League Trophy after falling at the first hurdle in both competitions, had been in the bottom four of League One for several months.
Little suggested that would change in the wake of being beaten 3-1 by Bradford City in the Cup’s second round, but a little under three months on and an amazing transformation has taken place.
Reaching the Championship and not avoiding the fall into League Two is now the target for a club who sit seventh in the table after taking 33 points from 14 games since being knocked out by Bradford.
City, in contrast, have collected just 11 points during the same period and changed their manager after Stuart McCall was sacked.
Romain Vincelot, as club captain, believes togetherness will help banish the poor run of results that mean Bradford head to Home Park sitting a place below Plymouth.
“The important thing is to remember the big picture,” he said to The Yorkshire Post ahead of a fixture that pits two clubs at either end of the League One form table against each other.
“We lost a few games, but it is not all about those few weeks or whatever, it is the season overall.
“Of course, no one is happy with losing. But the key is to stay focused on where we all want to be.
“We have to stick together. That is how we turn things around. We need to be positive, positive, positive.
“The big picture is we are all footballers, we are healthy and we have something good to play for at a good club.
“Feeling sorry for yourself just brings you down. Focus on the next win.”
City, without a clean sheet in almost three months, head to Devon for a clash that is huge for two clubs separated in the table only by goal difference.
With Charlton Athletic at home to second-placed Shrewsbury Town, the victors could easily find themselves in the top six by 5pm.
If Bradford can prevail it would be the perfect tonic for Simon Grayson and his new charges, who even after all the travails of 2018 still boast the fourth-best away record in League One.
“We have had some bad results this year away,” added Vincelot. “But the record is still good. We go away and know what we are capable of doing.
“This is not a team that goes there to just try and get something. That is not our style. We want to go there and win, no questions asked.
“The home team know that from our record. Maybe it is something that affects them. I don’t know.”
Plymouth, 1-0 victors at City in the league, are hoping to clinch a league double over the West Riding club for the fifth time in 25 seasons of going head-to-head across three divisions. The last time Bradford lost both meetings was in 1993-94.