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