We won. After two bad losses and much recrimination City’s’ impressive home form continued as we saw off a Wolves side that had themselves been on an impressive run.
It is an oddity that City have become a team that relies so much on their home form, not that our away form has been anything worth shouting about, but if you remember back to several games at Ashton Gate around Christmas, City couldn’t buy a win at home and seemed to capitulate on a regular basis – the Cardiff game especially springs to mind.
City’s 3-1 win against Wolves puts us four points clear of the team occupying the dreaded 22nd spot – Blackburn Rovers – with five games to go. Four points clear with five to play is still a long way from safety, but, thankfully due to other results going our way Burton and Birmingham now look to be in the mix as well as Forest and Blackburn.
So, it now pretty much looks like one from five. If City can keep their impressive home form going this Friday with a win over Queens Park Rangers, one would assume that that would be us pretty much safe safe. If that is the case, and it’ll be by the skin of our teeth if so, the post-mortem of our season will then begin in earnest in the pubs around BS3 that afternoon.
So for these reasons, I’m going to jump that proverbial gun and reflect on what has gone well, and I guess more pressingly, what has gone badly for us in the 2016/17 season.
Lansdown gave an interview to Bristol radio this week saying that if we stay up, Johnson will stay. By inference that would suggest that if, heaven forbid, we did go down he would lose his job. I do of course understand that footballing decisions have to be made on such clear margins as this but it doesn’t sit that comfortably with me.
It is obvious, to everyone I would suggest, that no matter what happens in these last five games, City’s season will have to be considered as a failure. Last season was our ‘stay up at all costs’ year and this time round, rightly or wrongly, we all expected much more.
Maybe we started too strongly. That may sound daft to say but around mid-to-late October, City were sitting in sixth and I was discussing as to whether a play-off push was realistic or not. I would suggest that this may have given players and management a false sense of security thinking that when things did start to falter that that drop in form would only be temporary, well, it wasn’t. As we all know as City went on to lose a record eight straight league games.
The other key point that the management structure should assess in relation to this years failings has to be it’s transfer policy. The long and the short of it is/was, we signed too many players, far too many. Some have worked, some haven’t and some have just been bizarre (sorry Gustav Engvall but that’s you I am talking about).
Mark Ashton, along with Johnson, seems to have the last say on such dealings so blame must fall at both their doors. I would also question the policy of signing what seemed to be at the start of the season either younger players for the future or seasoned pros.
This policy changed during the transfer window in January but as we know this window is not the ideal time to buy players so the lack of pre-season planning was more evident than ever as they looked to bolster our squad with players of the ‘right age and experience’.
We also have to look at who we have let go this season. The most painful departure, and you’ll know who I am going to talk about as I have been banging on about him all season, is Luke Ayling. Why oh why did we let such a promising talent leave for a considerably small fee?
The other one to look at is Luke Freeman. It appeared that he forced the clubs hand in January with his contract running out he was able to engineer his move away from the Gate, but why had his contract been left to run down to the last six months?
Questions questions. Let’s hope these will be the focus for fans over the Easter weekend and not more concern following a City loss.