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

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bristol City Season Preview: Dan Waters

In the second of the season previews from guest writers, I'm delighted to introduce Dan Waters for his debut on The Exiled Robin.

Dan began following City in 1996 and I'll let him explain further:

"In my first game I watched Brian Tinnion smash a volley over Andy Marriott against Wrexham! 1996 was also the year that my parents moved me into the footballing wilderness of Dorset, and absence really does make the heart grow fonder!

I'm now 26, living in Surrey and still a proud East End season ticket holder. A cautious optimist when it comes to our great club!"

Season Preview:

It's the 16th August 2012. After a thoroughly decent pre-season, Bristol City have continued that time honoured tradition of being knocked out of the League Cup at the first hurdle; and by a team from the basement division.

At the time of writing August has yielded no new signings, to the frustration of fans and no doubt to the management team as well. However, we have trimmed the fat of the squad with players such as Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jamie McAllister and David James leaving the club for the lower leagues. To replace those three with Paul Anderson, Greg Cunningham and Tom Heaton, for my money, represents some good business. They're younger, have talent and, in the case of Anderson and Cunningham at least, have resale value.

In midfield the jury is out on the signing of Jody Morris, but he was neat and tidy versus Bristol Rovers, and will provide experience in the centre of the park. Derek McInnes knows what he's getting with Morris, and he'll be keen to have a good crack at the Championship after his Scottish hiatus. Skuse and Elliott are both decent performers at Championship level, whilst both having their shortcomings. This season is an important one for both; Skuse to prove that he can offer something going forward, and Elliott to prove that he can distribute the ball!

Stephen Pearson is full of running, and could be a key performer if we can't get a creative midfielder in. Without his contribution last year, the league table may have a very different complexion. Also, a cursory look at the squad list on the official site will show you that Kalifa Cissé hasn't been removed, so maybe that deal isn't as dead as we've all assumed. That may be as pivotal as any signing we've made in the close season, especially considering some of his standout performances last season.

We've made no additions to our squad in the final third, but Aaron Holloway seems likely to come into contention over the course of the next ten months. I've personally not seen too much of Holloway, but McInnes clearly thinks a lot of his footballing ability, if not his attitude. Brett Pitman has scored goals for City, but question marks remain over his effort when the chips are down. Equally there are doubts as to whether Jon Stead, ever the team player, can score 20 goals per season.

Where we do look strong are the wings. Foster has had six months to bed down, and could establish a potent partnership with Adomah down the right. Paul Anderson, whilst a little injury prone, is quick and a livewire who no full-back would relish facing. Martyn Woolford had a decent pre-season, and wouldn't be the first player to win over the Ashton Gate crowd. In his case more than any other I think it's important to remember that you do not become a bad player overnight. His friendship with Jon Stead could be an important factor in an upturn in form, and I for one hope that it happens. Then we have Yannick Bolasie... He's young, raw and can create something out of nothing. I have my doubts that he can nail down a place in the starting eleven, but he's a great impact player to have.

Come the end of August, I would wager that the first eleven has a very different look to it. It's important to have a little faith, and patience(!) with the management team when it comes to signings. Mark Wilson looks like he'll be a great signing, and it's hard to imagine he'd have spent as much time in our first team in pre-season if something wasn't imminent. (ER - Wilson has signed tonight, on a five-month contract).

A centre-half would be a huge bonus, and a centre midfielder in the mould of Akos B... well, you know who, would be fantastic. In the striking department, someone with a little pace would be a welcome addition and of the names bandied about, Sam Baldock would probably be the most exciting, although that looks less likely by the day.

So where will City finish come the end of May? I don't think anybody can expect too much. The club have made much publicised cutbacks, and this has led to accusations of cutting the cloth too severly on the playing side. With the current playing squad, I think we'll survive. Just.

In 'Del and Doc' we have a genuinely promising management team and I really believe that they'll get us playing decent, well organised football. However, the side still looks a little light on creativity, with an over reliance on Albert Adomah, who is prone to a mid-season lull. At the back we're still crying out for a commanding centre-half to compliment Liam Fontaine, but those are at a premium at our level so it may be time for James Wilson to come of age if we are to stave off relegation. It will be a tough season, but I think we do have enough to see ourselves safe. I might just be a glutton for punishment, but I really enjoyed the excitement of having something to play for last season, and so hopefully this year will again be full of moments that make you proud to be a City fan.

Here's to a great season, and hopefully some more signings in the near future!

Many thanks to Dan for his contribution, you can follow him on Twitter here:

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