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Sinnott and McCall two peas in a pod
There is a team picture at the top of the stairs in Vale Park that needs taking down.
It was taken before the start of last season and of the 22 Port Vale players featured, 15 have now gone. A glance at City’s snap shot from that time would reveal the same story.
There are similarities between the sides who meet in the Potteries on Saturday, as Lee Sinnott is quick to point out.
Had fortune been different, Sinnott could have been sitting in the away dugout and not the home one. He was on the Valley Parade short-list to take over if Stuart McCall had said no.
Instead the former Bantam defender, who cut his managerial teeth so spectacularly with Farsley, got his chance in the big league with Vale.
Relegation in his first season was hardly the easiest start but Sinnott had inherited a team in decline. Like McCall, he is older and wiser to the task this time around with very much his own squad to command.
He said: “There’s been a massive change here but I see this as an opportunity. Sometimes you have to take a step back to come back stronger – look at the examples of Doncaster and Carlisle.
“You can either wallow in it or turn things to your advantage and, for me, this is a new start for this club.”
Vale adopted City’s cut-price season-ticket scheme and have sold 6,500, more than double their League One total – and that is despite neighbours Stoke heading into the Premier League.
Sinnott said: “As Bradford have done so successfully, if you expect the community to come into the ground you have to go out to them. It’s about making football more affordable for the masses.
“It’s an interesting conundrum when you step down a division. People’s perceptions alter quite radically.
“We are a club in transition on and off the pitch but while we are far from the finished article, I do believe things are going in the right direction.”
Big things are expected of Vale but, as City discovered, League Two has no respect for reputations. The first home game saw them beaten by Accrington – a familiar feeling in these parts.
Sinnott admitted: “Nobody is going to lay down for you. I think some people were expecting 2-0 and 3-0 wins as a common-day occurrence and I just detected that feeling.
“Bradford are 12 months ahead of us but we are a young group who are learning.
“Other teams may raise their game and that’s fine but I expect my team to do the same. I have full respect of anybody who walks through the door.
“It’s a long season. People see Bradford as pre-season favourites and say Port Vale should be up there but nobody’s getting carried away. It’s about creating the right ethos.”
Sinnott will greet McCall warmly and believes he is doing the right job in reviving City’s fortunes.
“It wasn’t easy for Stuart with all the expectation when he came in but he’s obviously a better manager for it,” said Sinnott.
“I last met him a month ago and he is wonderful company. I wish Stuart and Bradford all the best; they are an ex-club of mine that I hold extremely dear.
“I desperately want to win this weekend but as the old saying goes, if we can finish the season above Bradford then we’ll have done very well.”