So, there it is. As most of us have expected for the last week or two, City’s championship status has been assured for next season – following arguably the best result of the season: a 1-0 win away to top-of-the-league, and, in my view, most likely champions, Brighton.
The game itself saw City show a real backbone that had been much missed in the middle part of the season. One can only imagine where we might have ended up, had our defending been as tenacious and resolute from November to March as it was last Saturday.
Formation-wise, Johnson, who had been labelled by many ‘the tombola manager’ due to his slightly bizarre selection choices in recent months, stuck with the same line-up that had seen his side gain three wins and a draw from the previous four matches. Said starting eleven have done him and the club proud in recent weeks, but how much can we read into next seasons’ chances given our strong finish?
I like Korey Smith and Marlon Pack playing in front of the back four in reasonably defensive roles. This could actually be the key to our success in recent games – despite playing with two up front, the way we play 4-4-2 is quite defensive. Brownhill and Patterson get forward when needed and certainly don’t shirk their defensive duties as some players deployed in wide roles have this season. Yes, that’s you Mr Tomlin.
Up front, we have the best goal scorer we have seen for some years in the shape of Tammy, as well as Matty Taylor, who has proved many wrong with his endeavour and work ethic. I remember reading when we signed him that he could score goals but do little else; well, I have to say it’s been the other way round for us.
He has, and I’m being kind here, been unlucky in front of goal, but has really impressed with his link-up play and assists, typified by the performance at Brighton and his pinpoint cross that led to Brownhill’s goal.
We need a few acquisitions over the summer, of that there is no doubt. But, as discussed last week, I think we should focus on just four or five players that will add real quality and bolster the squad. Another overhaul of playing staff, like last year, could see us losing ground where we appear to have progressed in recent weeks.
As to which positions we need – well. We have chopped and changed ‘keepers this season with O’Donnell, Fielding and Geifer all being first choice at one time or another, so a proper first choice goalkeeper wouldn’t go amiss. I see John Ruddy has just been released by Norwich…
My brother insists we need two full-backs, but I think Joe Bryan has done enough in that left-sided role to keep him there next season. It’s about time we let him become a master of one position rather than being a jack of many. We need a right defender for certain, though, despite Little’s recent form.
I would suggest we are doing OK for central midfielders, but could maybe do with adding one or two wide midfield players. If David Cotterill is available, I think we could do much worse than getting him in on a permanent deal. And, of course, we need to look for a replacement for Tammy.
Sunday’s finale against Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham kicks off at midday. A truly impressive piece of scheduling, given half the city will be closed for the Bristol 10km run. The game has already sold in excess of 24,500 tickets, which will comfortably be City’s biggest attendance of the season, despite being the first game of the season that has very little riding on it.
Fans are an odd bunch. Enjoy the match if you are going.