We Do Feel Like a Club On The Up - Bristol City Pre-Season Report
Tuesday, 2nd Aug 2016 12:00 by HarryFromBath
In the 17th of a series of pre-season reports, HarryfromBath assesses the mood at the Robins after a busy pre-season under Lee Johnson by delving into their forums. A report on Reading will be on the site later today with the rest of the teams in the division covered between now and the start of the season.
“I have a positive feeling that we are in for a decent season with a high entertainment factor”, “We have consolidated in the Championship, massively developed our home ground, signed last season’s saviour Lee Tomlin permanently and seem to be enhancing the squad with quality additions.”
“It looks like it’s going to be an exciting next nine months.” Robins have a feeling that they are a club that is going places. In contrast to last summer, they have moved swiftly in the market, adding seven talented players to their squad while so far also fending off interest in their more valuable players.
“At the moment it’s looking very positive and that we have every reason to feel optimistic, not going up optimistic or play-offs optimistic, just mid-table optimistic”, “Challenging for promotion at the top end of the table still seems like a fairly distant dream with parachute payments helping other clubs.”
The feeling is that this won’t be a false dawn. “We have come a long way since those dark days a few years ago after our last relegation. I’m confident we can continue to progress from last season and establish ourselves in this division, especially with the revenue our developed ground might bring.”
“Johnson’s big challenge this year will be to maintain the strong bond between the playing group. This would test any manager with the number of players we have had to sign”, “He will need a bit of fortune to get the team up and running and to see if the numerous prospects can make the step up.”
The 35-year-old former Barnsley boss “is an impressive, assured and erudite man, and in a good way a little precocious for someone so new into management”, “I feel we may have got him too early in his career, but he is trying to find any advantage he can and looking to improve himself all the time.”
Bristol City have signed two players who were on loan at Ashton Gate last season, 24-year-old full-back Adam Matthews (from Sunderland) has returned on a season-long loan while 27-year-old striker Lee Tomlin (from Bournemouth) has signed a permanent three-year contract.
Two midfielders have also been added to the squad, 20-year-old Josh Brownhill from Preston and veteran Gary O’Neil, 33, from the Canaries. Two 21-year-olds have also been signed, Irish winger Callum O’Dowda from Oxford United along with goalkeeper Ivan Lulic from Bayern Munich.
The player who has caught the eye in pre-season run-outs has been Iceland international Hordur Magnusson, a 23-year-old centre-back who was signed from Juventus on a three-year deal. “He looks decent at the back. He is composed, shows a decent turn of pace and is good in the air.”
Two players have left the Robins this summer. Midfielder Scott Wagstaff has joined Gillingham and defender Karleigh Osborne is now with Plymouth. Striker Wes Burns is at Aberdeen on a season-long loan. For many Robins, fending off interest in star striker Jonathan Kodjia is vital to their prospects.
Jonathan Kodjia (l) v Oliver Norwood
“Approximately £7 million spent and seven new signings”, “I do think we have a good team in the making, not perhaps good enough to challenge at the top end of the table but quite capable of upsetting the better teams in the division and certainly more than capable of staying out of the relegation zone.”
The starting XI for Saturday’s lacklustre draw against Pompey was only shorn of O’Neil, rested with a minor knee complaint. This team, including the former QPR man, is likely to start Saturday’s season opener at home to Wigan. Saturday’s finishing XI (below) gives an indication of the wider squad.
The one concern Robins have is the lack of an adequate understudy to Kodjia. “We could do with one or two strikers though, other than that I’m happy”, “A striker is even more important than a defender. If Kodjia has an injury or a loss of form, we have nobody good enough to come in.”
Prospects for the Coming Season
“I would hope and bet on a mid-table finish and a settled season to hopefully allow us to push on in 2017/18 and this is realistic. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us pushing for the top eight if we can get a reasonable start.” One poll has 70 per cent of Robins forecasting a mid-table finish.
“The Championship has to be one of, if not the most competitive leagues in the world. Over half the teams can realistically expect to challenge for the top six.” Fans respect just how demanding this league can be and many don’t want to see the team come unstuck, which has happened in the past.
“What I would love is for us to just get through the first 10 games and not be at the sticky end. Another relegation scrap won’t do the club any favours”, “In the past, progression has often swiftly been followed by regression. Let’s hope we build and continually move on to the next level.”
The busiest Robins’ forum is the friendly and knowledgeable Bristol City Fans’ Forum.
Photo: Action Images
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