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 McInnes 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