Did you enjoy that week of unadulterated optimism? Remember? One week ago City had played two games at home where they’d scored freely and defended convincingly. It is said a week is a long time in politics: I know I’m not the first to say this, but, a week is also a substantial amount of time in football.
We know City faced two tough away games, and those who retain last week’s optimism will no doubt see a narrow loss away to Birmingham and a last minute point-salvaging at Brentford as another step in our upward trajectory, and, believe me, I hope those people are right. But, as is the way of a football fan, I seem to have been dwelling on the negatives this week.
The side Lee Johnson and his team have assembled are without doubt talented. They have youth, pace, technique – and, when they are on song, a real swagger. We’ve already seen that at Ashton Gate this season and I am hoping we can build on that with strong home form as the season goes on.
I know many think City have made a reasonable start to the season with a draw, a loss and a victory, but I have my concerns. As we all know, City started and ended last season brilliantly. But, in the middle section of the season, City were frankly awful, losing many games, most of them by the odd goal.
By the odd goal is the important part. We were almost good enough; not so far off in so many games that it was fair to surmise that the issue lay not with the talent or skill level within the squad, but with the mentality of the side. In short, we have a weak underbelly.
That weakness will, in my view, be our downfall again this season. In the past, this has been put down to a lack of experience or characters within the squad. This may be a fair criticism. The signing of Pisano goes some way to address this issue, but we could maybe do with one or two more experienced campaigners.
Some fans might suggest that, should Flint stay, he could offer that calm head in the later stages of games when things often seem to go wrong. It is worth remembering, however, that he was pretty much ever-present in last season’s side that narrowly lost out so often.
Anyway, enough of the negatively. Any City fan who saw the scenes in the 98th minute at Griffin Park would have had their heart warmed, and let’s hope that fighting spirit to get back in the game can install a belief for future occasions.
On the pitch, personnel-wise, the squad took another blow with the news that Milan Djuric will be out for several months following another injury. I like what I have seen of the big Bosnian, but the fact he has spent more time in the treatment room than available for selection is a concern.
The decision to send Engvall out on loan again seems even more bizarre, given our current striking shortage. We are in the market for a new goal scorer, for sure, but we all know how hard they are to come by. Hopefully the fact Tammy did so well for us last season might persuade some Premier League teams that we offer a good temporary home for their up-and-coming stars.
City face newly-promoted Millwall at home this Saturday. My memories of Millwall matches are not too positive, though their fans are always pretty vocal and will no doubt let their presence be felt around South Bristol this weekend, hopefully not in a violent way.
City then face Watford away in the Carabao Cup in what has been a gruelling start to our new campaign. Three points against Millwall and a good performance in the cup will no doubt fill us all with a little more cheer before the Bank Holiday Friday night clash against Villa, a game I am very much looking forward to.
Read more: ‘We look to be in blistering form so far’