Thursday, July 31, 2008

Championship Preview - Bristol City

Last season the robins surprised everyone and very nearly had enough for a finish that would have seen them in the Premiership. In fact it would have meant back to back promotions! After leading in the Championship they ended up in the playoffs via a 4th placed finish, stuttering a little at the finish line. They dispatched Palace only to have their hearts broken by one Dean Windass at Wembley as Hull claimed their place at the big dance. The fact that they were in the playoffs was quite remarkable. At the start of last season they were earmarked for a bottom 6 finish. Did they overachieve? Was last season a fluke or sign that Bristol gaffer Gary Johnson is taking his team onto bigger and better things?

As I type this I just noticed that Bristol have had a bid accepted for highly rated forward Nicky Maynard from Crewe. This report suggests the offer is in excess of 2 million. That certainly shows the City board have some ambition. Just yesterday they were set to sign Michael Mifsud from Coventry for 1.5 mil. Gary Johnson didn't like his attitude. Apparently a pair of goals against Manchester United is ok as long as you are a nice chap! Johnson pulled the plug on the Mifsud deal. Johnson also put the kybosh on a move for Emad Moteab. Johnson appears to be adament not to let the wrong sort of player infiltrate his dressing room.

"If they are not going to show the right commitment then we've got to look for people who can. If the fans were with me when I talked to our last two targets they'd have agreed - leave them and look for the next one." -Gary Johnson.
Gary Johnson. Promotion king of Yeovil and Bristol!

Vetting his incoming players carefully appears to be a key factor to his success. Johnson obviously runs a close nit bunch and wants to keep it that way. He also has an excellent reputation, just ask Yeovil fans! Bristol supporters need not worry that they have missed out with Mifsud and Moteab, if they bag Maynard they will have another good young striker from the Crewe conveyor belt. Recent gradutaes have included Dean Ashton (3 mil to Norwich) and Luke Varney (2 mil to Charlton).

Last year was certainly a notable one for Bristol City but I fear they will find it a little harder the second time around. Birmingham and Derby have tasty looking squads. Charlton and Qpr will be looking at the top 6 and Sheffield United, Palace, Norwich and Watford will all fancy extending their seasons come May. Even Ip..Ip..Ip..them, also have a shot of the playoffs.

Off the pitch Bristol today announced some board room manoeveurs that could explain the speed of the Maynard signing. A quick sign to show the natives that the changes off the pitch will mean business on it!

Bristol play nice football the right way (no hoofing at Ashton gate!) but Bigus doesn't believe that lightning can strike twice. Last year they were punching well above their weight. In McIndoe they have an excellent midfielder who is very influential in their passing game. Lee Trundle has talent and an eye for spectacular goals but the former Swansea man is getting on in years. I would be really surprised if they managed to repeat their heroics from last term. Looking at the league, it will be harder this year than it was last. Maynard will be a great signing and beacon of ambition but they will need more than they currently have to gain promotion. There's still a couple of weeks so who knows...?Bristol certainly won't be relegation fodder but they won't be promotion candidates either. They will finish somewhere between 8 and 14.


1 comment:

arny said...

8-14 yes with new striker in.

But with Maynard? I honestly belive the playoffs are in easy reach, and who knows, even the promisd land!!!!!! Arn