Peter Taylor does not expect Valley Parade to roll out the red carpet this afternoon.
Taylor returns to BD8 for the first time since February 2011, when an unremarkable one-year reign ended with an eventful 3-2 home win over a Stockport side hurtling towards non-league oblivion.
It was a period remembered for an often prickly relationship between the dug-out and the stands – and the veteran, now holding the Gillingham reins for a second time, is ready for a few choice words.
“I’m realistic enough to know that I might get some boos,” he said.
“I understand there will be a few people that will have a pop but that’s football life for you.
“Nine times out of ten, if you aren’t successful then people won’t like you and then they boo. So it wouldn’t surprise me.
“The reality of it is that I left the club in exactly the same position as when I took over. I don’t think they were any worse off.
“All Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes said to me when I got the job was that I had to get promotion. ‘If you don’t get that, you won’t be here next year’.
“When I got to the stage when we all knew it wasn’t going to be, there was no point in me hanging around. I knew I wasn’t going to be there the following season. I felt that making the change was better for everyone.
“It’s a great club with so much potential. That’s why I was desperate to go there and do well.
“Looking back at my time, it was stupid how many injuries we had. We couldn’t put out the team that I really wanted. But that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Having decided to call it quits, Taylor then took charge two days later for his last game. It was an unusual arrangement for a boss who had already announced his departure but Taylor felt it was the right way to go.
“It was an agreement between the two chairmen and myself. They knew and I knew that I wasn’t going to be there next year.
“Unfortunately, we had a 12-month plan. Looking back, it was probably a little bit harsh.
“Being asked to get promotion in one season is not an easy situation. So we shook hands on it and I was desperate to finish off with a win. It was a bit hairy but we got there in the end.”
It was not how it was meant to pan out when Taylor edged out Russell Slade to land the City job in the wake of Stuart McCall’s departure.
With five promotions under his belt, he was seen as the perfect choice to steer the club out of their decade of decline. Taylor had visions of replicating his success at Hull, who he took up two divisions in back-to-back years.
He knew the manager who finally bucked the trend would be immortalised with the Bradford public. But it was not to be him.
Instead, that honour fell to Phil Parkinson – ironically the man who succeeded him at the KC Stadium for an ill-fated five-month spell of his own.
Taylor admitted he was green with envy as he watched City twice head for Wembley last season.
“I was jealous as hell. I went to Bradford thinking I was going to do another Hull City because of the potential of the club.
“It’s a magnificent football club with a magnificent amount of supporters. But there were things that needed to be done off the field; things like the training ground, which was always a problem. I see that is now being sorted.
“I always said to myself that the place would take off one day if someone got it right. Phil Parkinson got it right – and I was extremely jealous.
“Peter Jackson followed me but he had the same problems and then Phil came in.
“Phil rang me up in Bahrain when he was offered the job and asked me what I thought. I told him ‘for goodness sake, grab it with both hands because Bradford are a fantastic club’.
“He recruited well, which is so important. I know Gary Jones didn’t play the other night against Colchester but he has been a big part of their success.
“The club needed people like that who could handle the pressure of winning matches in front of big crowds.
“I probably had too many younger ones who couldn’t do that. We got the injuries so we couldn’t have the likes of Flynny (Michael Flynn) and Simon Ramsden out there and instead had to use even more younger players, so it got more difficult.”
After his spell in the Gulf as Bahrain’s national coach, Taylor returned to club management in October with Gillingham.
Fourteen years ago, he won promotion to the second tier for the first time in the club’s history. But this season the goal is stability after a poor start which saw Martin Allen sacked.
Taylor is happy to see Gillingham in comparative mid-table safety locked on the same points as the Bantams. He is not so sure today’s hosts will feel the same.
“I looked at the programme when I took over for my first game at home to Preston.
“At that time Bradford were fourth and we were 17th. We were two points off the drop and Bradford were about a dozen ahead of us.
“At that particular time when I came in at Gillingham, I’m sure Phil was looking to push on again.
“I know they haven’t had a run that Phil will be pleased with but recently they have picked up again.
“We’ve won the last two and it will be a decent achievement if we can stay in League One. At one stage we were really staring at relegation.
“When I first came in, the team looked frightened to play at home. We’ve had to overcome that.
“It was like my year at Bradford. I remember telling Mark and Julian that you needed experienced people who knew how to handle the crowd.
“No matter if it’s 12,000 or 6,000, if they aren’t giving players lots of confidence then it can make it very difficult. You’ve got to have those strong characters.
“The squad I’ve got now is terrific to work with but they are a bit younger than when I was first here. That Gillingham team had a lot more Gary Jones types with people like Paul Smith and Andy Hessenthaler.
“But we’re looking forward to Bradford. I don’t mind if some people want to shout at me, it won’t put me off my job of trying to get a point or three.”