David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Bristol City’ Category

It’s not quite squeaky bum time

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Steve_CotterillBristol City Football Club are 17th in League One. That doesn’t sound right does it? Sadly for all Robins fans out there, that’s the predicament your club finds itself in (And this is a high point in the season!)

As news broke this week of ‘Paulo’s Circus’ coming to Ashton Gate, fans may be excused thinking that they had already arrived, and been here for some time. Performances on the pitch have sometimes replicated that of a circus act, with goals being leaked left right and yes, centre.

However, now is not a time for joking, now is a time to pull together and maintain League One football. I painstakingly said the same thing this time last season, only Championship football was on the line back then. I was convinced then that if we were to drop into League One, we would certainly make a fist of bouncing straight back up. In fact, I ran a poll on Twitter and the optimism amongst fans backed my views, little did we know it would be ‘another’ long hard season of fighting relegation.

After witnessing a tremendous effort in securing three unexpected, yet hugely needed points at Leyton Orient last week, belief was rife that back to back wins would be secured by beating Tranmere Rovers at home. Despite the efforts of the players, a tired, lacklustre performance meant fans left the stadium rather content with just a point, whilst bemoaning the opportunity to take all three against a rather poor League One outfit.

One thing that did fill me with hope as I left the stadium was the reaction of the fans. A mooted applause replaced the boos, whilst Twitter and radio phone ins were understanding of the work load the players had been through.

Between January 14th and February 15th, the club had amassed nine games, playing Saturday-Tuesday in every week bar one of those weeks. This run of fixtures, coupled with the travelling looked to have caught up with the squad in the jaded performance against Tranmere.

As I look cautiously ahead, games look winnable, but every game in League One looks winnable to me. On paper, this Bristol City side is littered with individuals capable of plying their trade higher up the divisions. Yet at Bristol City, it never seems to click. With three of the next four games away from home, one thing is certain, City are going to be fighting relegation right to the wire again.

Will they survive this time? I dread to think what happens if they don’t.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City blogger

Lee tweets at @molls28

Pre-season optimism…

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

SoD

Well, here we are, back in League One after relegation last season from the Championship and optimism seems high amongst the Ashton Gate faithful. What feels me with excitement though is the optimism seems realistic this time. Having shared and read many views on Twitter, most fans are tipping the club to make the play-offs, and with the business done in pre season, that’s a realistic expectation to have. The fact that the players have had most of pre season together is testament to the hard work Sean O’Driscoll did early in the summer in securing the signatures of his number one transfer targets.

Our shortcomings over the past three woeful seasons have unquestionably been in defence. The signing of Aden Flint has to be seen as a major coup for the club. The towering centre back more than played his part in Swindon’s play-off campaign and will bring the no nonsense defending that is needed in this division. Providing competition for the spot alongside him is the ever reliable and legendary Louis Carey, Derek Williams (who comes in with much promise) and Liam Fontaine who has the ability to be a dominant force at this level should he iron out his confidence insecurities. An experienced goalkeeper (at just 25) in Frank Fielding has been added to the back line which is completed by the consistently good full backs of Brendan Maloney and Greg Cunningham. Suddenly a defence has been established that gives hope of being a platform to build from.

As I have previously said, the club is in good hands now with Sean O’Driscoll at the helm. Not just settling for changes on the pitch, he has implemented a new structure off the pitch and got everyone buying into his philosophy. This is what the club needed before it got into even more financial difficulty.

With players like Jordan Wynter and Derek Williams turning down contracts at premier league clubs to join the club, the hope of a young and vibrant team taking to the team with a passion and energy is rife amongst the fan base. Academy products Bobby Reid, Joe Bryan and Wes Burns being in and around the first team have added to this belief.

With so many exciting signings, and the drop in the division, inevitably there will be departures. The most high profile of those is still yet to happen in the form of fans favourite Albert Adomah. If the winger is still a City player when the window has slammed shut come September 2nd, I am hopeful that his attitude will be right to produce his best for the club until the window reopens in January. Many players who want out of a club cause trouble if a move is not forthcoming, but City fans will be happy to know that this is simply not Albert’s style. He will knuckle down and work his socks off as he has always done. This should make it a win win situation for the boss.

Steven Davies has left the club, bringing in some much needed cash at the same time. Whilst many will look at his goals as a loss, and rightly so, I certainly questioned his fitness and ability to lead the line as a lone striker. In Ryan Taylor, Wes Burns and the on trial Marlon Harewood, this gap can be filled from within.

I’ll end with the most exciting prospect for fans at Ashton Gate this Saturday, the number 9 and 10. Sam Baldock and Jay Emmanuel Thomas will strike fear into every back line in the division. Both blessed with undoubted talent, now is the time for them to realise their potential and fire in the goals to help the club back into the Championship.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City blogger

Lee tweets at @molls28

Relegation – Not such a bad thing

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

As the Play-Offs unfold around the country this week, fans of neutral clubs sit glued to TV sets enjoying the drama unfold. If you’re a fan of a club involved it can, and will, throw up every single emotion possible to human being throughout 90 minutes of 100mph football. Which leads me to this question, can Bristol City being back in League One and potentially playing a part in the Play-Off lottery next season be just what the struggling South West side need?

It’s clear that momentum plays at integral part of any clubs potential success. When players are confident they suddenly produce moments of brilliance and match winning performances on a more regular basis, and winning matches breeds this confidence. So my argument is this:

Despite dropping a division, the thought of winning more games than you lose should be some appeal to any City fan. Add a promotion push and talk of Swansea, Norwich and Stokes successes will start becoming the topic of conversation in the pubs around Ashton Gate. The before mentioned clubs certainly used their promotion from League One to mount their promotion to the Premier League. City fans will be hoping the same applies to them.

If this is to happen though, a lot has to change. Firstly, the appointment of Sean O’Driscoll and his philosophy on the game will help the clubs growing debt concerns. With owner Steve Lansdown looking to go a different route with the well-publicised recruitment plan, it is vital to have a manager (or Head Coach in O’Driscolls case) who agrees with that mantra.

The appointment of Keith Burt in the Director of Football role is also crucial to the clubs new recruitment plan. With wages thought to be amongst the highest in League One, and agents fees through the roof, the need for an experienced man to steady this outlay is as big a signing as any the club will make on the pitch. It will also allow the Head Coach to work more intensely with his players on the training ground.

There is a big mess to clear up however. Two inexperienced managers have come and gone and when you add the turmoil in which Steve Coppell brought to the club, and then it’s pretty obvious to see why this club has struggled so much over the past three seasons.

For a club that has been down on its knees for the past three seasons, they have now come to a crossroads which could make or break their coming seasons. Indeed, the direction they turn won’t be decided on the pitch, it will be decided off the pitch over the most crucial summer in years in BS3.

The current crop of players is assembled from five different managers and for this reason alone the squad is far too unbalanced. With twelve players out of contract, and big earners on the books, there will undoubtedly be an immense volume of traffic going through the doors at Ashton Gate. Fans and media will speculate until the cows come home, but the fact remains that very few will be retained. Only Tom Heaton, Jon Stead and the evergreen Louis Carey are likely to be wanted by the fans, whilst clubs will pay big fees for the likes of Albert Adomah, Steven Davies and Sam Baldock. These are all quality players who could potentially tear League One defences apart, but money talks when offered in difficult times. I’d expect the club to keep hold of the hard working Baldock, whilst bringing in much needed revenue from the sales of the others. It’s likely these two big earners won’t be the only players out the door however.

Players who have served the club relatively well may find that O’Driscoll is ready to put his own stamp on the squad. This may see the likes of Liam Fontaine, Lewin Nyatanga, Marvin Elliott, Neil Kilkenny and Stephen Pearson moved on to pastures new, with the core of Heaton, Brendan Maloney, Greg Cunningham, Liam Kelly and Paul Anderson likely to be the platform for the potential promotion push, along with academy starlets Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid. With Burt probably being briefed to bring in some natural leaders too, proper men of the game and tough boys for League One, you can suddenly start seeing a decent squad assemble.

It’s worth noting that this month sees the ten year anniversary of Swansea City surviving relegation out of the football league all together. I wonder where Bristol City fans think they will be in ten years time? For their sake, Id be careful what I wish for. After relegation last time saw the Robins take eight years to bounce back, it’s clear that things are being run differently this time with everything being pre thought and pro active responses happening rather than the previous reactive panics. In O’Driscoll, Burt and the Lansdowns, the future may be about to get a whole lot brighter.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City blogger

Lee tweets at @molls28

Changing the mentality to gain success

Friday, April 5th, 2013

If you support Bristol City then you are probably coming in for some banter from fellow football fans about the uncompromising position you currently hold at the bottom of the second tier. You should believe the future is in good hands though. Funny thing to say when the club is seven points adrift and staring relegation in the face? For some, yes. Those who are overly concerned of the direction the club is heading need to take a time to assess the cultural difference there is at BS3 now.

Since Gary Johnson took the club to a Wembley Play-Off Final, the club has fallen slowly down the Championship to the point where it looks it will culminate in finishing in the bottom three and restarting the process all over again in League One. The stark reality is that it is relegation in the history books that will forever be marked by the clubs name. A capital ‘R’. If truth be told though, its probably what the current crop need. Go down, rebuild with players who care about the club and understand the long term vision, and allow youth to prosper and blemish as the season unfolds. (A clever move getting talented youngsters Joe Bryan, Bobby Reid and Wesley Burns on loan at clubs with pressure on them at the business end of the season)

Owner Steve Lansdown has thrown millions at the club he loves in recent years in the hope of propelling it to the Promised Land of English football. With money being lost every year, the club can no longer be dependent on the riches of Mr Lansdown. And something has to change with financial fair play rules set to rock the English game, and City can take comfort in the changes they have made recently.

A view to signing younger players will enable the club to operate with hungry players. And players who will still demand a fee when their time at Ashton Gate is up. Having the right mentality within the squad is as important as having quality in it. You can be the best player in the world, but if you don’t work hard for the team, as a team player, you’ll merely be regarded as good player, not a great player.

We all think football is a physical game, played by men who wouldn’t have much in the way of prospects had they not been gifted with a round piece of leather. This is a notion I disagree with completely. Yes, the aspects of winning and losing is putting the ball in the back of the net, but it’s the components that get you to that position that are important. Managers who study every aspect of the game, and prepare accordingly for every eventuality, short and long term, will be the most successful. City fans are lucky that Sean O’Driscoll is one of those. He’s not at Ashton Gate for a quick fix, he’s a man who will stay at a club and watch his work be rewarded in way of success. Had he be instilled in October like his predecessor was the previous year (when Derek McIness replaced Keith Millen), City would be sitting comfortably in mid table now planning an assault on the Championship next season.

A man who is slightly unorthodox will always upset the odd the punter. That’s always going to happen in modern society. The way O’Driscoll comes across in the media can be slightly unearthing and awkward. A bit peculiar. I don’t believe it’s deliberate on his part. He just sees every game situation as a marker to measure the progress of the players he has worked with throughout the preceding week. Much like a school teacher after their pupils have sat the exams they have prepared them for.

The on goings at City can be argued for a considerable amount of time, much longer than you care to read about in this article, but the fact that there is so much happening to improve the fortunes of the club is the exact reason City fans should look forward with excitement and optimism.

There will be an overhaul of players, and like everyone, I have my thoughts on this and will discuss these in the summer months like all football fans do, but before we diverse into the personnel, just take a moment to think of the components that are coming together to take a club that looks like that they are going down, forward. Hearing your head coach talk of instilling an identity in the club, and changing behaviours and attitudes is a thought process that hasn’t been at the club since the departure of Gary Johnson. It is now encouraging to know there is a plan in place to go forward, with players playing with passion for the shirt that thousands of Bristolians care affectionately about.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City blogger

Lee tweets at @molls28

Could the Great Escape really happen?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

My oh my, what a turnaround we have seen at Ashton Gate. After looking dead and buried just a few weeks ago, Sean O’Driscoll has transformed the fortunes of the club and provided fans with genuine hope and belief that they will be playing Championship football again next season.

This weekend the Bristol outfit travel to Molineux for an old fashioned six pointer. With only goal difference separating the two clubs in the table, whoever comes out victorious on Saturday will be sensing survival.

Bristol City fans will remain cautious however. They will be aware how far their team has come in such a short time. It wasn’t long ago that confidence had shattered through the team, with players reluctant to accept even the minimum requirement that is possession of the football. Now is a whole new environment. Players are playing with a freedom, a discipline to work hard and keep their shape, but express themselves as footballers when the opportunity to do so presents itself.

O’Driscoll treats his players like adults. He has trust that if they perform as he asks, with each player doing the job essential for him, then ultimately the results will be positive. The more positive outcomes you get during the 90 minutes, the better the chance of a three point return. And who can argue with this? Since his arrival, the squad have displayed play off form. Three successive clean sheets have arrived for the first time since December 2010. That isn’t good luck. Anybody fortunate enough to know just a little about the game will understand that organisation, teamwork, communication and a resolve are key to earning clean sheets.

Going forward there is a wealth of options available, particularly as the gaffer is versatile to his chosen formation. With the work horse Jon Stead leading the line so well, Steven Davies has had to settle for a bit part role, but played the role perfectly, chipping in with goals to ease the strain. With Marvin Elliott back to somewhere near the form he displayed in 2008, Albert Adomah itching to prove his worth and Sam Baldock back from injury, there is certainly strength in depth to call upon.

This strength of depth will be tested to the full on Saturday when a hectic schedule reaches its temporary conclusion. With an international break to come, City go into the game off the back of a pressure-easing return of four points from six at home, almost perfect, and with confidence at a season time high.

A sell-out travelling contingent will be in attendance hoping to roar their heroes onto victory, although the meticulous thinker O’Driscoll may be happy to simply carry on the unbeaten run, knowing that all of a sudden, time is on his side to complete The Great Escape.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City blogger

Lee tweets at @molls28

Can we play at home every week?

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Nottingham Forest loss has certainly been Bristol City’s gain with Sean O’Driscoll (And Greg Cunningham, Paul Anderson and Brendan Moloney). After leaving the club on Boxing Day after he had guided them to a 4-2 victory over Leeds and 1 point off the play-offs, many Forest fans were left bewildered by the decision. He mulled over other job offers, before declaring City to be “a good fit” and started work at BS3 5 games ago.

Those 5 games have yielded 2 away defeats, but more importantly 3 home victories. The fright of playing at Ashton Gate has disappeared from the playing staff, and the fans are enjoying their Saturday afternoons again. In many home games before O’Driscoll’s arrival, City were out of the game by half time. Leaking goals for fun, the shape of the team was nowhere to be seen, shipping goals left right and centre. Now 3 wins have brought 2 clean sheets with them, reward to goalkeeper Tom Heaton who has been largely blameless for the lack of clean sheets previously.

The big difference in results has been how individuals are preparing for games. Mentally more than physically. When possession is lost to opponents, the whole team seem to know what their job is. It’s not rocket science either. Closest player puts pressure on the ball, whilst surrounding players get goal side and recover. Recovering goal side of the ball makes it so much harder for teams to play through you, meaning less goal scoring chances being created, simple hey?!

The thing that should be encouraging City fans most is the squad. O’Driscoll has lost key players to injury and international commitments, a strain on any side, let alone one currently occupying a place in the drop zone. Legendary stalwart Louis Carey came in to help his friend Liam Fontaine and suddenly there was a partnership in the centre of defence. When Carey was ruled out injured for the Forest game, many feared his replacement, Lewin Nyatanga, would fall into the bad habits of conceding goals and not adhering to the discipline of keeping your shape in a much structured team. There was no need to worry at all, Nyatanga fitted back in as snuggly as a glove on a cold winters day.

All players are deserving of a mention, but Jon Stead more than most. The much travelled Stead has now played more games for City than any of his previous clubs, testament to the love being afforded to him on the terraces of Ashton Gate. His hard working nature has made him a cult hero with the fans, but he is far more than just a workhorse. He leads the line and scores his share of goals, but encourages others in leading by example. The chant “Stead will tear you apart again” can be heard ringing around the East End every time he makes a dash into the opposition half, lifting the atmosphere inside a tense stadium. With Sam Baldock and Steven Davies nursing niggling on off injuries, Stead and the raw and promising Wes Burns will have their part to play over the coming months.

Lastly a shout out to Marvin Elliott. The big midfielder has had his critics this season, and like Nyatanga, fans were cautious when seeing his name on the team sheet in a depleted midfield. Big Marv rose to the occasion in fine fashion, a towering header was the all important game changer and he got around the pitch like his old self. All this is even more impressive when you consider he was playing in Mexico at 2:30am on Thursday morning for Jamaica. Quite an achievement one would think.

So can we play at home every week? I don’t think the footballing authorities would allow that sadly. With away games at runaway leaders Cardiff and promotion chasing Crystal Palace in the next two games, this would be a perfect time to prove that City can play away too.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City Blogger

Lee tweets at @Molls28

The Resurgence…

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Well well well, football can change pretty quickly, cant it?

Just three games ago, City were reeling from a 4-0 home reverse to Leicester, with Ashton Gate an angry place to be. Fans were booing, and chanting for the manager’s head. That evening Derek McInnes was relieved of his duties and Sean O Driscoll, the man many fans wanted, was appointed as head coach just two days later. And what an appointment he had turned out to be thus far. A first match loss to Leeds showed progression in terms of performance and attitude from players, then a last minute winner from fans favourite Jon Stead in O’Driscoll’s first home match set them up for back to back victories. Throw in a first clean sheet of the season and it’s all smiles at Ashton Gate.

So what has changed?

The fans had questioned the desire and commitment of the players under the previous regime. It is highly thought of throughout the terraces that City has a decent squad at Championship level, one that certainly shouldn’t be at the bottom of the table. With no clean sheets all season, the confidence had been drained out of the back four quicker than Albert Adomah’s ‘Ferrari boots’ running down the wing. Under McInnes, the team wasn’t stable. Constant changes never allowed the side to gel or gain any pattern of play. Players were played out of position in a desperate ploy to win matches. O’Driscoll’s formula will be built solely around organisation.

Can we survive?

Well, within a week, the gap has been cut from 7 points adrift to 4 points. This goes without saying what a boost it has given everyone. It won’t be easy. There won’t be a run of 10 matches without defeat. We won’t start hammering every side 4-0. What there will be though is a run of 10 matches with a passionate performance, one that will give all it can to the football club, one that the supporters will go home happy and proud with. Fans are satisfied in defeat, if they know the players who have crossed the line to represent their badge have given everything that they can.

Key to success.

A solid and organised unit working together will be a start. In goal, Tom Heaton looks a class act, regularly making point blank saves. Greg Cunningham looks like he will continue the trend of having top drawer left backs at the club, carrying on from the days of Darren Barnard, Micky Bell and Jamie McAllister to name but 3. Maloney looks an assured signing at right back, with great positional sense and a touch of an early Bradley Orr about him. If Fontaine can hit the form we know he is capable of and form a partnership with club legend Louis Carey, hope will be renewed. Paul Anderson (why on earth he wasn’t playing until recently is beyond me), Steven Davies, Sam Baldock, Jon Stead and Albert Adomah can all win  matches, and if the defence can do their bit, we might just stay up. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be straightforward, but we’re a Championship club and belong there. In Sean O’Driscoll and Richard O’Kelly, we have the right leadership to ensure we fight til the end.

Written by Lee Molland, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City Blogger

Lee tweets at @Molls28

 

Really, Really Hate to Say I Told You So…

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

So, after being too uninspired and apathetic about the mediocrity of Bristol City’s start to the season, I have now dropped into a black pit of despair over the course of this week. The problems that I highlighted in my first blog have all come true at the same time in the worst ways imaginable. Our lack of cover in defence has come back to haunt us – with Liam Fontaine out and Louis Carey looking less and less like a Championship player, our back four of Jordan Spence (21 years old), Lewin Nyatanga (23), James Wilson (22) and Ryan McGivern (21) lacks experience and leadership.

Our squad is paper thin too, with few senior players available to cover the defence. Our “world-class” goalkeeper David James has justified his nickname “calamity” this week (he was at fault for all three goals against Reading, spilling a cross straight to Jobi McAnuff, parrying one into the path of Adam le Fondre and he should have done better against Mathieu Manset’s flick). Our capitulation at the hands of Reading on Tuesday and to Blackpool on Saturday shows how much we lack confidence and belief in the team, because the fans at Ashton Gate are incredibly quick to turn against them; as soon as the opposition score, a number of fans around me say “right, that’s it, we’ve lost” and suchlike.

“Playing a six foot three striker (Jon Stead) on the wing because you’re a tactical genius” was one of the pages that showed up on my Facebook page last week, and you can see why. The frustration at Ashton Gate is visible, even from the (usually docile) Dolman stand. Normally, I have a lot of time for our manager, due to his commitment to the club (Keith Millen has been at the club since 1999) and the fact that he has come in as caretaker-manager twice to stave off the threat of relegation (once from League Two, the horror). However, this was as caretaker-manager, and he has ruled himself out of the running for the full-time manager’s job both times. The last time was only a year ago, and who’s to say that he’s progressed – tactically and personally – enough to take on the job on a full-time basis? From what we’ve seen this season, he seems unable to.

Six hours without a goal is bad enough away, but it seems unthinkable at home, surely? Not for City, it ain’t. You could blame this on the players, and their lack of ability, but the amount of cash wasted on players that had previously been effective at this level is extortionate for their performances – Jon Stead was once tipped for future greatness with England, Nicky Hunt has made over a hundred appearances in the Premier League, Damion Stewart was a stalwart in a “#decent” (as a certain Mr Barton would say) QPR side… and yet our defence remains leaky. These players undoubtedly have the talent to be playing in such a good league, but they are being played in a style and a formation that doesn’t suit them. Jon Stead being played on the wing is just one of these mishaps, others being Nicky Maynard (who scored 20 goals two seasons ago, playing off another striker) being played up front on his own in a 4-5-1 formation, taking off Jamal Campbell-Ryce (who had our best chances in the Brighton match) and bringing on yet another over-elaborate winger with little end product, Martyn Woolford. Sadly, he’s another player who seems ineffective, but then again he is rarely given a chance.

I wish my tone in this blog could be more upbeat and able to take positives even from our losses, but I’m afraid that they are few and far between. I’m unsure that we’ll see the customary bouncing around the ground this season that is normally so endemic when the good times roll at the gate. We have already become mired in a relegation tussle, but I worry that we lack the squad strength and ability to escape it. Our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is a massive worry as well. I have a feeling that there is a long, hard season ahead of us.

Written by Joe Walford, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City Blogger

Joe tweets at @Joe_Walfs

In Hope, Not Expectation

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

After the promise and excitement of last year’s pre-season build up, this year’s has been decidedly muted.

Instead of a (supposedly) world – class goalkeeper fresh from the “Greatest Show on Earth ™”, we have signed another striker from League Two with a questionable scoring record. Instead of the big-name manager we’d been waiting for to take us one better than Gary Johnson did, we’ve struggled to sign players, being beaten to them by low level Premiership sides and even Championship sides who are at a similar level to The Robins. These factors have combined to keep my (and most city fans I know) feet planted firmly on the ground. The prospects for this season are in sharp contrast to those of last.

Albert Adomah was one of the few star performers in an otherwise ordinary team last season, and so far it seems like we’ll retain him. By the end of the season, he had a reputation as a danger man and as a result, had more than one person marking him in the final few games. This would be no problem at all if we had someone who was able to make use of the spare man and stretch the play. However, last season we were sadly lacking. The recruitment of Yannick Bolasie from Plymouth Argyle could well be the remedy for this. It also helps that he is mates with Albert Adomah’s, having played together at Barnet. They even devised their own goal celebration, which you can watch here.  Here’s hoping we see that many times this season.

Speaking of goals and celebrations, goals were a commodity in short supply last time around, with only Brett Pitman reaching double figures in the league. We desperately rely on Nicky Maynard to be in some sort of form, and in some sort of fitness. His fortunes mirror that of the team’s, most obviously when he was injured for the majority of the season and we struggled. Unsurprisingly, when he came back, he scored 6 goals in 11 starts, no mean feat in the championship. He has been the target of several clubs recently, including Steve McClaren’s Nottingham Forest and Sven Göran Erikson’s Leicester City.

The fact that two former England managers are after him just shows how highly rated he is at this level. I think many fans are resigned to losing him, but if we lose him we should receive a decent sum; however this needs to be invested into the defence. We only have one natural left back, and Nicky Hunt and Louis Carey just couldn’t deal with pace at right back. We relied on our nineteen-year-old loan signing Steven Caulker to provide some defensive stability at centre back, but he’s been sent to Swansea for next season. He was always going to go on to bigger things, and I think I speak for the majority of city fans in wishing him good luck in the future.

The one place in our team that is no cause for concern is our central midfield – Marvin Elliot, Cole Skuse, Lee Johnson and new signing Neil Kilkenny would make most championship sides – creative, all action, box to box midfielders that can pass and tackle. This is a good spine upon which to build upon, but more needs to be done to strengthen in other parts of the team.

I think that the current situation and mentality is probably better for the side than the unrelenting optimism that surrounded them last season. There are fewer expectations for us to do well, having last effectively challenged for the playoffs in our first season back in the division, in 2007-2008, four years ago. There can be no excuses of a “managerial shake-up” rocking the team (unless Keith Millen does something drastically wrong, which I highly doubt). A better start than last season is crucial, as we spent most of last season mired in the relegation battle, until the return of Nicky Maynard put us back on track.

With a few new additions to the squad, and some luck with injuries, we should be looking at a top half finish. And if we’re really lucky, we might just be in with a shout for the playoffs!

Written by Joe Walford, We Are Going Up’s Bristol City Blogger

Joe tweets at @Joe_Walfs