Jon McLaughlin wants to show Peter Taylor that he has matured into the role of City’s number one.
Taylor brings his Gillingham side to Valley Parade tomorrow – the first time he has been back to the club since stepping down as manager three years ago.
McLaughlin and James Hanson are the only survivors from his spell in the hot-seat, which was a frustrating period for all concerned.
Taylor gave McLaughlin his big break as City’s first-choice goalkeeper at the age of 23 and awarded him a long-term contract. But then he dropped him for three months after recruiting Lenny Pidgeley.
McLaughlin is looking forward to tomorrow’s reunion with his former boss and the chance to demonstrate how far he has come since that time.
“It will be good to see Peter Taylor again personally and it will be interesting to see the reaction he gets coming back,” said the Bantams keeper.
“A lot of the players had an up and down time (when Taylor was in charge) but that wasn’t due to him as a person. The situation of the club at the time wasn’t easy.
“I was a very young goalkeeper and hadn’t been a professional for long. But he had the belief in me to make me his number one and give me a long contract.
“I definitely learned a lot from him and his experience from the level that he had coached and managed at.
“I know myself that I have changed a lot since then. You grow with the position and with your experience.
“I might have had the ability back then but a lot of things do change as you play more. I’m sure he will see a bit of a difference – at least I hope he does.”
Taylor, who was in charge at Valley Parade for 53 games, returned to Gillingham five months ago to replace Martin Allen.
Back-to-back wins have lifted them out of immediate danger in League One and they sit directly below City in mid-table on goal difference.
After Tuesday’s much-needed victory at Colchester, the Bantams have the chance to inflict further damage on another team beneath them.
McLaughlin said: “It’s a really critical period. Every game between now and the end of the season is important but especially these ones when you’re playing teams involved in the same battle.
“It’s the old cliché of the six pointers but it is relevant at the moment. If you win the games, you make progress and stop them from gaining any ground – and that can relieve a lot of pressure.
“We’ve been relying on other people’s results for quite a long while with the long run of draws we had without a win. We were lucky not to lose a lot of ground and get sucked in.
“So it’s important that we continue to address that ourselves as quickly as possible.
“We’ve got to take inspiration from the likes of Sheffield United. In the space of five weeks they have changed themselves from almost bankers for relegation to really pushing for that play-off spot.
“That’s how quickly it can change. We did it ourselves last year with an incredible run.”
McLaughlin insists City’s belief was never shaken as the games clocked up without a win. But inevitably confidence levels dipped as they slipped away from the play-off picture and found themselves being pulled towards the battle for survival.
He said: “There’s so much in the psychology of football. Confidence breeds more confidence. One result leads into another and you take that momentum forward. It’s so true.
“It should just be down to two teams on the day and whoever has got the better quality wins the game. But you see it so often that the confidence is the major factor.
“If you’ve got a true belief within the team and you trust the players around, then you can go a long way – and we still have that.
“We haven’t doubted our ability but obviously a team at the top of the table aren’t as worried as taking chances or taking risks to win games. Those nearer the bottom are well aware of the fact that mistakes are compounded a lot more.
“You’ve got to try and over-ride that and do whatever it takes to go out there and play to the best of your ability.
“There’s more than enough games left for us and we’ve got enough quality to play these teams and take maximum points from them.”
* Don’t miss the T&A on Saturday for an exclusive interview with former City boss Peter Taylor ahead of his return to Valley Parade as manager of Gillingham