David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Ashton Gate’

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