Bristol City view: Summer deals have impressed as Robins aim to improve

lee johnson city job 800x553
lee johnson city job 800x553

We get the lowdown on tonight’s visitors from Bristol City fans Tom Rawle, Tim Kelly and Ashton Adams ahead of the EFL Cup Round 2 game at Glanford Park.

What are your hopes and expectations for the season?

TK: It’s hard to judge at the moment as we still haven’t played an established Championship side this season. We are certainly stronger than last year but we have beaten 2 promoted sides (with all respect to them) and were narrowly beaten by 2 relegated sides. The completion of the new Ashton Gate has really raised expectation as it’s simply wonderful. If you have ever visited the Gate before, you wouldn’t recognise it now!

All I would say is that we would have been beaten heavily by Norwich and Newcastle last season. My expectations are between 10th and 14th, we’re getting there.

AA: Hopes for the season is what everybody dreams of in honesty, if we could get as far up the ladder as possible by Christmas and go into the new year on 50 points it would be fantastic, a big ask but we’ve picked up 6….so only 44 to go! Expectations is top 10 finish due to the quality in our side rather than quantity!

TR: Mostly just improvement on last season, and anything more than that is a real bonus. Lee Johnson said we won’t get worse and even went on to say that he doesn’t know where we will finish. If I had to estimate a position I’d say we’ll finish somewhere around 10th. A few fans are predicting a play off push, which would be great but I think we need to be realistic because we’re not quite there yet.

Steve Cotterill was sacked in favour of Lee Johnson last term. How is he doing in charge of the club his dad once managed?

TK: He hasn’t really put a foot wrong yet and I find his interviews quite refreshing as he says it how he sees it. The comparisons with his dad, who is an absolute legend at City, are obvious but LJ is his own man. When he was given the job, I admit I was underwhelmed but he has impressed me thus far.

AA: LJ is a very articulate and intelligible character, he’s on the ball and everytime I have spoke with him I have felt in very safe hands with him at the helm. When you look at the results since his arrival it’s play off form!

TR: He’s doing fantastic. It’s such a breath of fresh air. I was actually talking about this to my friend who supports Newcastle yesterday. He explains every little detail in his press conferences so there isn’t really any stone left unturned when it comes to the communication between the fans and him. He saved us last season taking us from a team looking doomed to be relegated back to League 1, into a mini threat really going into the end of the season.

The departure of Luke Ayling seems to have upset a few of the supporters, how satisfied are you by the club’s summers transfer dealings?

TK: Ayling apart, we’ve had a blinding summer transfer wise. Getting Lee Tomlin on a perm deal was crucial although his wages are relatively high and he cost £2M+. We’ve also signed a young Icelandic international from Juve (ark at us!) called Hordur Magnusson  for £3M (I think) and he is an impressive player, Gary O’Neill from Norwich on a free seems good business as he’s been there and done it, we need that as we’re quite a young side.

We also signed Josh Brownhill from PNE and a young lad from Oxford for £1.6M called Callum O’Dowda who looks a real prospect. Add Tammy Abraham from Chelsea and Adam Matthews from Sunderland, both on season long loans and you can see why we’re pretty pleased. 5 youngsters have also been signed to join our development squad. I don’t think we are finished yet either.

On Ayling, he wanted regular games and Matthews was brought in to be first choice right back so it did make sense although it left us with only Mark Little as back up. Typically, Matthews is now out for 8/10 weeks so we need another right sided defender.

AA: The transfer dealings through the summer have been fantastic bits of business ins and outs, the quality we’ve brought in just goes to prove it, Gary O’Neil just goes to show that. He is a massive cog in the machine, and seems to be making everything tick! Agard moving to MK Dons for more than we actually bought him for sums up our astute business!

TR: I always liked Luke Ayling and Kieran Agard who joined MK Dons. I wouldn’t necessarily say it upset me because as good as he was, I don’t think Ayling was a player who’d be getting first team football in the future, and to join a team like Leeds really shows how good our squad is. A player who wasn’t going to get much first team opportunities manages to get a big club like Leeds coming after him. I’m really satisfied with our summer dealings. Our CEO Mark Ashton talked the talk before the summer and he certainly walked the walk when it came to getting players in.

What would you say is the best bit of business you have done?

TK: Gary O’Neill in my opinion. He does all the mopping up and allows the likes of Tomlin to press on. You can tell he’s a class player and a natural leader.

AA: Getting Tomlin back, the man can make something out of nothing ! And every successful team needs that sort of player!

TR: It’s hard to say which is the best because every player we’ve got in is a real talent and can all do a fantastic job for us. Lee Tomlin of course was our marquee signing of the summer, but I’m going to go with Gary O’Neil. From what I’ve heard and seen of him he’s been our best player on the pitch every game this season. 

What sort of side can we expect to face tomorrow? Is Johnson going to make many changes?

TK: I wouldn’t expect too many to be honest as our side is still gelling together. Maybe a couple in midfield with Marlon Pack and possibly Brownhill coming in with possibly Aaron Wilbraham starting up front but it will be a strong City side I should think.

AA: Johnson will most likely make 4 or 5 changes, but they will just be those who went out on Saturday coming back into the side that played last Tuesday at Norwich. Every player in our side is capable of making a strong line up!

TR: I listened to Lee Johnson talking about the game tonight, he said he was going to play a fairly strong squad but with some room for rotation. I think we have to play a fairly strong side really because Scunthorpe are a really good team coming off a 5-0 win, so if we stick 6 kids out and they get flustered it could be a similar result.

Tammy Abraham seems to have hit the ground running since he joined on loan from Chelsea. Who else should we look out for?

TK: We seem to favour 2 holding midfielders allowing our 4 attacking players to push on. We have been playing Jonathan Kodjia on the right with possibly Callum O’Dowda on the left and Lee Tomlin though the middle with Tammy up top. They are all dangerous players to be honest. Watch out for JK, especially if he plays more centrally, he’s due a goal after getting 20 last season. Aden Flint and Magnusson are both dangerous in the air at set pieces, they’re both huge!

It should be a good game actually as you’ve started well so it will be a good barometer.

AA: Mark little has had the fans on his back of late so will be looking to be out to prove a point after a good performance on the weekend!

TR: He’s fantastic and is onto big things. I have a few Chelsea fans who are happy he’s come to us because they know I’ll keep them updated and be honest about him. Jonathon Kodja, he scored 20 goals last season. Lee Tomlin, Gary O’Neil who I mentioned earlier, Aden Flint is always dangerous coming up top for corners and can score!

Do you have any weaknesses the Iron could exploit?

TK: I hope your left winger / midfielder isn’t too tricky as we have a weakness on the right side of our defence (mentioned earlier). Mark Little isn’t a bad player by any means but he’s not the player he was when we won L1.

AA: Once again on the other note, it’s the right hand side in Little and O’dowda. Not enough cover from the midfield leads to Mark being exposed often!

TR: Probably just down the left, I don’t want to say too much because you never know who’s reading this!

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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