"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Friday, 24 June 2011

Is Neil Kilkenny the answer? Leeds fans have their view

June 24th could mark a significant moment in the history of Bristol City.

Although Neil Kilkenny's signing is not exactly in the league of a Ronaldo or a Tevez, for City fans who have been crying out for a creative midfielder good enough to marshall the centre of the pitch and control games in the Championship, it could be the moment they found their man.

The sheer volume of abusive and sarcastic comments from Leeds fans on the forums, blogs and Twitter feed proves only one thing. They wanted to keep him, and he can't be a bad little player.

I've dug through the vitriol and found a couple of Leeds fans with a more reasonable outlook on life to share their views of the new general of Ashton Gate.

Firstly, Jenny Berry - twitter.com/#!/jenberlufc - a trainee journalist and Leeds United blogger (jenber.wordpress.com) takes this view...

So, Neil Kilkenny.

Good signing for you for sure. I'm really very annoyed it came to this; his contract should've been sorted last year but Bates and Grayson didn't value him enough despite what he brings to the team.

He is extremely intelligent in his play, a footballer who is always thinking of the next pass long before he has the ball at his feet. Sitting deep in the centre of midfield, he collects and moves play forward; small passes, intricate passes and accurate ones. Always wanting to keep the ball on the floor and to play.

He can get sloppy sometimes but he always looks for the pass and rarely plays an aimless ball forward.

Doesn't score enough goals but he's prefers to be the creator, sitting back, making himself an option for someone else.

They're the good bits.

The problem is he isn't a player who gets stuck in. He can't head the ball. He rarely gets into a tackle and even less often wins them. Protect him and allow him to be playmaker and he'll be an asset but leave him exposed and your defence will suffer. He's slow to track back and struggles to find position defensively.

He also whinges, a lot. Which is good sometimes, often he was the only one who looked like he gave a shit but sometimes he made a habit of blaming everyone else for something he could've prevented.

Secondly, Dan Moylan, editor of the Square Ball fanzine - http://www.thesquareball.net/ - offers this view:

Neil Kilkenny is something of an enigma.

On the one hand he’s been part of a Leeds midfield that has been routinely overrun and outfought, especially alongside Howson in a largely ineffectual 4-4-2, leading to a sniggering juvenile characterisation of him as something of a Priscilla Queen of the Desert character, mainly thanks to his effeminate Aussie twang.

Killa can’t tackle; he can’t track back; he can’t head; he can’t shoot; he can even look unfit at times, and it’s this obvious lack of mobility that means he can’t run a game. On balance most people at Elland Road – and most importantly, Simon Grayson – feel he’s very replaceable.

But on the other hand, Neil Kilkenny is a footballer with a footballer’s brain. He thrived when sitting deeper in a 4-5-1, dropping back to pick up the ball from the defence, and making the team start playing. Killa doesn’t panic, and he is a great passer, especially over short to medium distances. You can tell he was schooled at Arsenal; he has a touch of quality about him.

So, while he’ll never be a player that can take a game by the scruff-of-the-neck, Killa would probably do well with an athletic destroyer alongside him, to pick up his slack and do the bits he can’t. He didn’t have that at Leeds, so we often saw his weaknesses exposed.

The most important point to note about Neil Kilkenny is that statistically, Leeds got far better results with him in the side than not. As with many players who have been part of this rapidly evolving Leeds team, we’ll see a better measure of his true abilities now he’s gone.

The apparent similarities with Lee Johnson are striking. Even those amongst the Ashton Gate faithful who always had accusations of nepotism on their agenda must admit Johnson was invaluable in getting us up from League One, and played a decent role in the following season's successes. However, LJ never quite managed to 'make it' at this level, so can Kilkenny take City to a higher level?

The dilemma for Millen now is who plays in the centre of the pitch. Everyone's been crying out for a creative midfielder, but playing a 4-4-2 with Kilkenny included means only one of Skuse, Elliott and Cisse can be in the XI. Our often highly-porous defending last year indicates that could be too lighweight and leave the back four - missing the assuring presence of Stephen Caulker - exposed.

That remains to be seen. What can be guaranteed is that at last City have a midfielder capable of orchestrating the game at the speed he wants it to be played at, and if he can sit in front of the back four and ping quality balls to Maynard (hopefully), Pitman, Albert and the rest, then goalscoring certainly won't be our issue this upcoming season.

Finally, a word for the oft-maligned manager. Millen started his job on the back-foot following Coppell's disastrous short-reign and a commonly held perception of him being a Yes-man or a cheap option. A very decent first season, and a number of good signings have done much to improve his popularity, but doubts remain amongst many and the slightest knock causes floods of negativity.

This is a signing that has been, without exception, welcomed by City fans. Kilkenny himself has admitted that he came to the West because of the job Millen did in selling the club, the city and the future. Forest, Burnley and Hull, not to mention perhaps Leeds, were reported to be offering more money and, dare I say, more chance of promotion this season, but Kilkenny has decided to up sticks and come to Bristol. Well done Keith on a job very well done, and one in the bank against those that say Millen, as a relatively unheralded player and novice manager, can't attract the 'names' to the best club in the West.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ryan Taylor, A Millers View, Part II

Following the first Exiled Robin review earlier in the week, David Rawson, a Rotherham fan and blogger to boot, has kindly offered a further view on our latest signing.

In the end, there was competition. Millwall agreed a fee with us, Scunthorpe wanted to sign him, Barnsley were keeping tabs. But Ryan Taylor signed for Bristol City and is a Championship player.

In a lot of ways, it’s a brilliant move for him. Financially, of course, it’ll be a massive pay-rise and from a footballing perspective he’ll be one of a relatively small number of players who jump straight from League Two to the second tier of English football. But it also feels a little unnatural, somehow, a little bit overly challenging, perhaps.

In reality, the Taylor that got this move, the one that turned down a new contract offer at Christmas in favour of waiting to “see if the club could match his ambitions of playing in a higher league”, has only been around for two thirds of a season. The greater part of his career to date has consisted of sputtering glimpses of potential and teasing hints of talent in performances largely marked by reticence and introversion and muffled by an inability to compete physically in the brutish battles of lower league football.

When he made his debut, as a late substitute in home defeat against Swindon, he was cause for optimism. In a side crippled by self-doubt and in the middle of a dreadful run of results, he had a go. He was above six feet tall, a rarity for a Rotherham youth player and he had a spring and a willingness in his play that the rest of his jaded team mates lacked. And he had an instinctive, instant crisp control. He could receive the ball into his feet, tame it, shield it, nudge it into a pocket of space and assess his options. It was - and is - his greatest attribute.

But that was the last we saw of him. Glandular fever struck him low. He returned to the squad the next season drained of vitality and vigour. The touch was still there, a glint of steel amidst the rust. He got a renewed contract, largely because Mark Robins, his mentor through the youth and reserves, took over from Alan Knill and kept faith in the potential he’d seen over the years.

In Robins’ first full season, he was mainly a substitute, spending a month on loan at Burton in an effort to toughen him up. As the number of (albeit brief) appearances racked up, the optimism at the economy with which he controlled the ball became increasingly burdened by the frustration of the ease with which he was eased out of possession by every defender he faced. More and more he seemed a callow youth in a man’s game.

The same story was true of the next season, and most of the one after that. He’d been working on his physique in Brendan Ingle’s boxing gym, we were told, but the most average of fourth division defenders could brush him aside apparently at will. A flash, like the incisive cut inside and curling shot that earned an away win at Rochdale, would illuminate the mediocrity, but the spark never ignited a more substantial fire.

And then, in the last couple of months of the season before last, he went on loan to Exeter, returning in time for the play-off campaign. He missed a sitter away in the away leg of the semi-final, but there was an air of menace about him, the reticent teenager abandoning his bedroom to take on the world. At Wembley, he stood out. Willing, determined, he created opportunities and took his chances.

He took his time to get going this season, having suffered a broken foot in pre-season training, but the new-found steel was there. John McCombe, the sort of defender who regularly bottled him up, found himself clattered by an elbow in one of their aerial battles against Port Vale and eventually had to be replaced as we won 5-0. The boy was becoming a man.

But a man for the Championship?

The ball control, the awareness, those are the attributes of a player of distinction. Yet it doesn’t feel as obvious a move as Will Hoskins’ transfer to Watford, or Alan Lee’s to Cardiff (and both those players had performed well in higher divisions before their transfers). He doesn’t have the pace or quickness of feet that distinguishes the crafty forward, nor the power or physique of the powerhouse target man. He’s no longer cowed by the prospect of physical competition, but he’s not always the winner of it. Chances in front of goal aren’t always accepted with the aplomb that his hold-up play suggest they might be. His right foot is a much less sophisticated tool than his left.

He leaves us having shown himself to be an accomplished forward in the fourth division, certainly capable of playing a league higher. The Championship is more unforgiving and his weaknesses (that lack of real pace, the absence of genuine athleticism and physique) may hide the qualities (the delicacy and crispness of touch, the awareness of space and team mates) that he unquestionably has.

There are striking similarities with the first review, very broadly speaking Taylor's a decent player but has only really performed at a consistent level for around half a season.

More worrying is perhaps the lack of physicality mooted, especially considering we've signed him, in Millen's own words, as a target-man, someone to lead the line and unsettle defenders.

It remains to be seen if the good games and the second half of last season is genuine progression that can be developed at City, or a flash in the pan. The old saying about form and class springs to mind, but let's hope the class is still in its formative years.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Ryan Taylor, A Millers View

Ryan Taylor became City's second signing of the summer today, the out-of-contract striker signing from Rotherham for a fee to be decided by either negotiation or tribunal (he's out of contract but under-24, meaning a fee is payable).

Whilst you may have seen him score both of the Millers' goals in vain during the play-off final at Wembley a year ago, and know his strike partner Adam le Fondre has scored goals for fun alongside him, I think it's safe to say there aren't too many Robins fans who know much about Taylor, so I've enlisted the help of Jonathan Veal, a journalist who covers Rotherham, to give us the lowdown on our new player.

Ryan Taylor was something of a late developer for Rotherham and the season just gone was his first run of games as a first choice striker.

He was unlucky in the early part of his career, suffering from injuries and
glandular fever and he was only ever a bit-part player that, despite being a local-born lad, struggled to get the fans on his side.

With his career drifting at the Millers under boss Ronnie Moore, he made a
surprise move to Exeter on loan. They were in a division above Rotherham and he went straight into their team and become a major player for them.
He returned to Don Valley a different player and enjoyed his moment in the sun in a Millers shirt came at the end of last season when he scored both goals at Wembley in a losing cause in the play-off final.

More bad luck followed when he broke his metatarsal on the first day of
pre-season last summer and was out until late September. He took time to find his feet, but soon forged a potent partnership with Adam Le Fondre.

Finally the fans were seeing a consistent run of performances from him and he was one of the shining lights in what ended up being a dismal season for the Millers last term.

A tall and strong striker, he has a good touch and has good awareness of what is going on around him. He won’t score 20-plus a season, but he’ll create for those around him.

He reneged on a new deal but is a down-to-earth lad, who is approachable and will work hard for his chance.

But I think he has really landed on his feet with the move he has got. Yes, he was one of Rotherham’s better players last season, but that was in League Two. A three-year deal at a Championship club on the back of two goals at Wembley and half a season of consistent football does not stack up for me. There is no doubt there is potential there, but I just think this move has come too soon for him and he would have been better served having another season playing first-team football and then moving on.

So, have we unearthed a hidden gem? There is clearly potential, and anyone who can help his partner score 50 goals in fewer than 100 games is worth a look. The fact that he performed well on loan at Exeter at the higher level bodes well, and perhaps points to a player able to rise to the challenge.

It feels like he will be a player who will link up well with Maynard or Pitman, and he looks to be more of a leader of the line than Jon Stead, whose best moments seem to come when dropping a little deeper. But with those three already battling for a couple of spots, it would appear as if Taylor is destined for a season of development.

If there's one thing an ex-centre half should be able to pick it's a good striker - they know what they didn't like playing against - and in Pitman and Stead, Millen has already proven he has a shrewd eye for forward players. This is probably his biggest leap of faith to date though, and Jonathan's views above seem to indicate it's a gamble at best.

Time will tell though, and he does at least fit the current criteria for signings - young, hungry, bags of potential but relatively cheap. I suspect we may not see the best of him until the season after next, so a touch of patience is needed amongst fans often too desperate for instant success.

Many thanks to Jonathan for his assistance with this article, check him out at http://twitter.com/#!/jonathandveal83

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Carling Cup Woes

The first sign of the new football season drifted into view on Thursday in the shape of the Carling Cup draw, and the most eye-catching draw for fans in the West was a derby between two sides with unenviable recent records in the Carling Cup. The bonus of the draw means at least one of Bristol City or Swindon will reach the 2nd round, an achievement that will mark progress for either.

In a period of relative success in the league, City's record in the junior cup competition makes horrific reading. It's 23 seasons since the infamous two-legged semi-final against Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest, when the width of a post denied Alan Walsh a tie-winning goal, but there has been precious little to shout about since then.

Only one progression beyond the second stage in ten years, and five exits in the past six seasons to lower league opposition; Sven Goran Eriksson's Man City the side to disrupt that run in the second round, four seasons ago. Meanwhile Barnet, Cheltenham, Crewe, Carlisle and Southend have left City licking their wounds and missing out on potentially money-spinning ties against Premier League sides in the later rounds.

So, what is it that has proven so difficult for what has essentially been a good team? These have not been lucky wins scraped by a lower-league team who have stuck 10 men behind the ball and scraped a lucky, deflected, late winner. Carlisle and Barnet in particular played City off the park at Ashton Gate and fully deserved their victories.

A couple of the exits have been down to ambitious selections, with Gary Johnson sensing opportunities to give some of the back-up players a chance when City should have run out comfortable victors. During this period we're talking about players of the calibre of Scott Murray, Lee Trundle, Gavin Williams, Ivan Sproule, Phil Jevons and Cole Skuse - no mugs, but perhaps the lack of motivation for a match-winning performance stemmed from Johnson's reluctance to change the set-up of the first team to accommodate some of these players on a more regular basis. It's easy to blame Steve Coppell's lack of hunger and passion for last season's exit to Southend, but a virtually full, expensively-assembled first-team should have had enough about them to see off the Shrimpers.

There appears to be little rhyme nor reason behind the poor record, so what will Millen do this year? The gaffer himself and the board are endlessly talking up the importance of improving the financial situation and cash-flow, and there's no doubt the lack of decent cup-runs has contributed to massive losses in the past couple of seasons. So we should expect a first-team, and should expect to comfortably beat a side from two divisions below at home, but players are rarely motivated by the prospect of improving the club's coffers, so Millen needs to get to the bottom of why this particular set of players appear to switch off when it comes to the cup competitions and ensure they produce a performance that matches their status.

Meanwhile, some 45 miles up the M4, Swindon have an equally poor, if not worse record. To provide some insight into Swindon's recent failings and his hopes for this first-round match, Ron from http://www.thewashbag.com offers this view:

After the high of reaching the Semi-Final against Bolton Wanderers back in early 1995, Swindon have failed to progress past the 2nd Round 15 times in the past 16 years. That only anomaly being a 3rd Round appearance in 1996/97, culminating in a narrow 2-1 defeat for Steve McMahon's side at Old Trafford.

Despite the many failures we have the memories of going two nil up as a Division Two side against Premier League Champions Blackburn in 1995/96, only to lose 3-2 and exit in the second leg. Taking another 2-0 lead against a then 'mighty' Leeds United in 2003, only for Leeds to equalise in the dying minutes through a Paul Robinson header and eventually fall on penalties.

It comes as no surprise that the season when we did progress beyond a 1st Round defeat came in 2009/2010. A 4-1 1st Round win away at MK Dons thanks to a stunner from JP McGovern, a Billy Paynter brace and an own goal, set up a tie with Premier League Wolves at Molineux. Town gave as good as they got as they were resolute and held a strong Wolves side for 120 minutes, taking the tie to penalties. The first eleven penalties were scored and it fell to bandaged captain Gordon Greer to strike the post to send Wolves through.

For a Club that prides and ultimately built itself on the 1969 League Cup victory over Arsenal, the abject failure of winning just a single tie in the past 6 years is just becoming even more difficult to put right. Town have fallen into the basement division and we're without a seeding for the 1st Round. Whilst a local derby tie away at Ashton Gate certainly raises an eyebrow and provides an early season grudge match, the possibility of putting right our dismal League Cup form is looking shaky to say the least. Or will it?

With a new passionate manager in Paolo Di Canio surely this derby provides no better game to galvanise and unite the squad, a squad to contain many new faces.

The opportunity to capitalise on this match and an early season cup wins as a springboard to cement our League form is a chance that shouldn't be readily dismissed.

Also, one thing we've shown in recent years is we can step up and be a match for a higher division side.

So this despite the talking, this tie isn't over yet.

There's no doubt City will start this tie as massive favourites, and with the financial emphasis running through the veins of the club, Millen will almost certainly pick a near first team. But recent history has proven that may not be enough, and Swindon's fiery new manager will be desperate to prove an early point against higher-placed opposition, whilst the players and fans will be geed up by the chance to play their local rivals once more and score some points for the underdog.

The Exiled Robin & The Washbag

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

EXCLUSIVE interview with new Bristol City Chief Executive, Guy Price

The Exiled Robin recently cheekily asked incoming Bristol City Chief Executive Guy Price for an interview…..and he agreed!

Guy talks openly and frankly about the financial situation at the club, the possibility of having Nicky Maynard and Stephen Caulker in the same line-up again next season, the Academy and the importance of the new stadium for the local community.

Before we start I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to Guy for his time in answering these questions – it must have been an incredibly busy couple of months for him yet he’s taken time out to answer these questions for you, the fans, to read.

What was your first involvement with City, as a fan or as an employer? When was your first match?
I'm from the West Country, so I've always kept an eye on City. I completed Panini's Football '79 sticker album, and although I was very excited about Liverpool's success in Europe at the time, I couldn't help but notice that Bristol City were in the First Division. I've still got the album, and I have to admit that I've been checking out the Bristol City page of late!

My first professional involvement with City was early in 2009. I was so determined to come and work here full-time that I actually worked for free for three months. As well as being the tea-boy, I also did some early work on the stadium plans! My first match was an FA Cup 3rd round replay home defeat to Portsmouth.

What are your top three aims/objectives when you take over your new role?
Good question. The most exciting thing about this football club is its potential. It's my job to run the business, to take it to the next level (and then the next level after that), and to realise that potential.

My first aim is to make sure that everything that happens off the pitch is geared towards success on the pitch. What happens behind the scenes has a massive impact on how well we perform in front of the fans. That means making sure that our commercial work, our sales and marketing teams, our community team and our operations team are all pulling in the same direction.

I want to bring everyone together, I want to get the best out of everyone who works here, and I want to make sure that we have the right people, with the right talents, doing the right jobs. It'll be my job to make sure that everyone who works here is fully equipped and empowered to do a great job for the football club.

Community is very important for me. Whether that is the local community, the business community or the wider Bristol community - I want this club to bring people together. We’ve been at the heart of the community in South Bristol for over 100 years and with the new stadium, City’s community can grow even bigger.

What are you most looking forward to in the new role?
The personal satisfaction and accolades that we will all get when we get things right. It won't always be easy, but I am really just looking forward to getting things done.

Most importantly of all, I am looking forward to coming into work each and every day. What a privilege to be working for Bristol City Football Club!

One question, and one question only on the new stadium. Will it happen?

Based on Steve Lansdown's comments on announcing the new board, it is clear the club will have a different approach to spending money in the near future. What immediate impact will that have, and how do you balance that with ensuring the club continues to drive forward and be ambitious?

The announcement of the new board is all about driving forward and being ambitious. The most important thing is getting value for money. That's what everyone looks for when they spend their money, and it's no different in this business. We cannot ignore the level of losses that have been incurred in the last couple of years. Firstly, it's not sustainable to keep on making these levels of loss, but secondly, it's not right that a business should operate in this way.

So yes, there will be a different approach to investing in new players and investing in the growth of the business, but if we can make the business case, if we can be confident about the returns that the football club will gain, and if it is in line with our long-terms plans and ambitions, then we will spend the money.

Will the club's short-term cash flow not be affected whichever way the new stadium decision goes? If we get the go-ahead we'll be spending all our spare cash on building it, if we don't get it then we won't have the hoped-for future revenue streams. How can we avoid the problems other clubs have faced?
Yes, there are financial challenges and decisions whichever way we turn. Football is an expensive business to be in and there is certainly no "spare cash" here at the moment. A new stadium does not guarantee success on the pitch. What it does is greatly increase your chance of success, and gives you a better chance of sustaining that success going forward. Whatever happens, there is an awful lot that we can do to strengthen the financial position of the club over the next few years. As a business, it has not yet got anywhere near achieving its potential and it will be my job to make sure that we do achieve just that.

The business of football is still changing. Money, sponsorship, non-match day commercial activity all play such a large part in the running of a club. Of course, if we don’t get the new stadium, we and the city will miss out on an incredible opportunity. But one of the fundamental jobs of the new board will be to ensure this club is increasingly self sufficient financially in the long-term.

Who will be responsible for negotiating player's fees and contracts, is that you or Colin Sexstone?
Colin has a great deal of experience with this. I have never been CEO of a football club before and so matters of player negotiation is one element I’m looking forward to learning. For the time being however, Colin will take this role. Importantly, however, we have a new Finance Director in the form of Martin Mulligan, who will also have an important say in this area.

We've been in the top quarter of Championship clubs paying transfer fees for last couple of seasons - have we stretched beyond our means with the reliance on Steve Lansdown's money?
We are a very ambitious football club. In recent years, that ambition has been fuelled by Steve's support. To reach our full potential, we need to attract the top talent, whether that's on the playing side or behind the scenes. The investment that has come into the club recently has put the club in a very strong position. A hungrier, leaner football club is quite often the one challenging for honours come the end of the season. That's what I hope we can achieve, with a little extra hunger and desire pushing us on to greater success.

Some questions on the playing side:
A couple of first-team regulars in ten years is not a great return on investment in our academy. Many fans would like to see the likes of James Wilson, Joe Edwards & Marlon Jackson in the side as opposed to not-good-enough senior pro's, yet successive managers haven't seemed to rate them highly enough. Are we just not producing good enough players, and if so, how are you planning on changing that in the future?

Bristol City FC has one of the best academies in the country, nurturing and producing some very good talent indeed. We would of course love all of our academy players go onto vie for a place in the first team. Keith Millen is a fantastic coach who knows the players and the club like the back of his hand and does everything I’m sure to encourage home grown talent to flourish.

The academy is incredibly important to this club. Not just for producing future players but also to engage with hundreds of boys and girls every season, getting them involved in sport and this great club. Part of our long term plan to be self sufficient includes improvements to our academy and training facilities so that we continue to invest in people that will one day be playing here, that’s definitely a focus for us.

Can we, and will we, keep hold of Nicky Maynard this summer? Have we had any enquiries, even if there hasn't been a bid?
Yes, Nicky is a Bristol City player and as long as he’s contracted to us, he’ll be playing here. He loves this club and we love watching him chase defenders into errors and scoring great goals. And no, there have been no enquiries and nor do we welcome any.

Have we had any discussions with Spurs about re-signing Stephen Caulker next season?
Stephen is a wonderful talent and I know all the players, coaching staff and fans have loved having him here. It is unfortunate that he picked up an injury before the end of the season. We'd love to have him here next season, but we don't know if that will be possible or not. I'm not sure what Spurs’ plans are for him, and we'll just have to see if we are a part of those plans or not.

Back on non-football matters for one question, does the new board feel under pressure filling the shoes they have to fill? We've had a tremendously positive and successful period in the past ten years - is it a bit like following Sir Alex Ferguson into the Man. Utd manager's post?
That's right, the club has come a long way in recent years, and there is a lot for myself and the new board to live up to. But we've got plans to move the club forward even more over the next few years. The experience that has got us to this point will be invaluable. But the 'fresh legs' that have been brought on are there to do a job. So yes, there's plenty of pressure, but it's all positive, and it's mostly pressure that we are putting on ourselves to get on and make Bristol City the force it can be at the highest level.

And finally, will you be 'tweeting' regularly in your new post?
To be honest, I’m not a massive Tweeter, nor I am too sure people would want to know my thoughts every 20 minutes, but you never know. The keenest of online City fans out there will know we’ve got Adam Baker (www.twitter.com/#!/bean_head) taking on that role! I might be tempted every now and again, but my job is to get this business achieving its potential. But if supporters want me to tweet, then maybe I'll tweet! (ER: If you want to follow Guy then here's the link: www.twitter.com/#!/GuyRPrice

In summary we appear to have a sensible, pragmatic but ambitious newcomer, someone determined to drive the club on and pick up the challenge left by Steve Lansdown's graceful exit. The hard work put into the new stadium over the past three years can hopefully be replicated on the football side, and we should contine to see a club moving forward, slowly but surely, both on and off the pitch.

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