Before the Millwall game, Johnson mused that a win would have constituted a pretty decent start to City’s season. Therefore one would assume a loss would have meant a pretty bad start. Well, in true Bristol City style, we drew, so, an OK start to the season.
That OK start took an unexpected upward turn with the performance-of-the-season-so-far cup victory away to Premier League Watford. City have been rewarded with a home tie against Stoke City in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
So, two games and two contrasting emotions from the week. City’s performance against Millwall made me feel somewhat flat. The game itself was pretty dull. Millwall were well organised and set up well and didn’t let City utilise their possession.
Having said that, Millwall still managed to get an astonishing sixteen corners, all of which were defended adequately. So, a clean sheet and a solid defensive performance shouldn’t be sniffed at. I would agree with my brother’s suggestion that we would have most likely lost that game last season.
Fast-forward just a few days and a much-changed side – only Fielding and Diedhiou kept their places – brimming with youth and vitality stunned an expensively-assembled Watford team. The game ended with new signings Andre Grey (£18m+) and Richarlison (£11m+) on the pitch.
The Watford performance will test Johnson’s selection skills for the Villa game on Friday night. As we all know, he will be loathed to change a winning side, but there is no way he can go with the same eleven as that would mean too many big names not featuring.
So, who might make it into his starting line-up for Aston Villa? I’d like to see him keep the two wide players, O’Dowda and Eliasson, in our starting eleven. Freddie Hinds probably deserves some more game time and if Flint is going to be staying it seems odd that he wouldn’t make the team, but we will see.
Given the Watford performance, the squad certainly appears to have depth, but do we need to strengthen at all before the deadline next week? I would say a keeper to challenge Frankie is still a must. Other friends of mine have also suggested we could do with some more attacking options, either in the shape of a new striker or a creative midfielder, or both.
I would like to end by discussing the joy that I still get from watching my beloved team, often in spite of the result. On the face of it, last Saturday’s game against Millwall should have rendered me slightly disillusioned and downbeat, but it did not.
The joy of watching City, or Rovers, or any local team, goes way beyond the 90-odd minutes of football the fans have to either enjoy or endure. For the first time this term, all of my season-ticket-holding-friends were in attendance.
We met in a local pub garden prior to the game, talked nonsense, laughed and joked. We discussed the impending match and made predictions. Our walk to the game included our now ritual bet and the purchasing of a ‘walker’,
Once in the ground confusion and mild panic set in as we are still not quite familiar with our new surroundings of the South Stand. The half-time refreshment-buying drill needs some work, as does our plan to retain the seats we had in the first half.
Overall though, win, lose or draw, the fact that I have been walking the same streets to watch the same team play for nearly quarter of a century is the thing that makes going to football so special for me. It’s about catching up with friends, talking nonsense and coming together to support our local side.
And it’s like this, win, lose or draw. Obviously a win makes the evening and coming days a lot easier. So, ignore those last couple of paragraphs for Friday night please Bristol City. This Friday is all about winning in-front of the Sky cameras and a full Ateyo of away fans.