Bristol City fans enjoying the ride ahead of long haul to Norwich
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Bristol City fan Paul Binning – author of www.exiledrobin.blogspot.com – gives us a view from Ashton Gate ahead of today’s game at Norwich
Just how pleased have you been with the Robins’ start to the season?
The last 10 days have made it a very good start! We’ve had a few draws early on, but only one defeat by this stage of the season is really positive. Four points from trips to Reading and Wolves, dismantling Derby County last Saturday, neatly followed by an equally high-quality performance to dump Premier League Stoke City out of the cup on Tuesday, has the whole club bubbling.
Lee Johnson seemed to be under a lot of pressure last season – are fans backing him now?
He was under serious pressure. After eight defeats in a row, and 11 in 13 as we slipped from fifth to the bottom three, most found it incredible that he wasn’t sacked. But the owner Steve Lansdown stuck to his guns, we slowly recovered and eventually stayed safe by a fair distance. I think it’s fair to say many were still sceptical at the start of the season, but performances have been bright and full of pace, and he’s convincing more and more people – some a little grudgingly still – with each passing week.
Were you pleased with the transfer business completed?
Yes, on the whole. Replacing Tammy Abraham was always going to be almost impossible, but we’ve invested heavily in the overall squad for the second successive summer and now have good quality cover in almost every position. Plus we held on to Aden Flint, who, whilst occasionally suspect defensively, is immense in the air and scores more goals than any other defender in the country.
Which players have performed well so far?
Nathan Baker was brought in from Aston Villa having had a spell on loan with us two seasons ago and has formed a stronger partnership with either Bailey Wright or Flint than we’ve had previously. Joe Bryan has been excellent at left-back, the midfield is full of energy, but the special mention has to go to Bobby Reid, a local boy who has come through the Academy but has never really broken through properly until now, his 24th year. He’s been pushed further forward and has developed a superb knack of being in the right place to tap in half-a-dozen goals already, but his overall drive, skill, pace and energy has set the tone for the whole side so far.
And which have disappointed?
It’s genuinely difficult to pinpoint anyone. Our record £5m signing Famara Diedhiou won’t score as many goals as Abraham and is, understandably, taking some time to adapt to the power of the English game, but had his best game on Tuesday against Stoke’s first-choice back line, and looks like he could be a good partner for a quicker, more prolific partner in an almost old-fashioned way!
Do you expect a difficult game at Norwich?
Of course. The Canaries’ squad remains strong and has quite a lot of the remnants of the Premier League era still present so, as with many teams in this division, we’re up against a side with a lot more experience than our own has. Given the long distance to travel – and the fact we’re away at Ipswich next Saturday – the Board have paid for the squad to fly to give them the best possible chance of being rested and fresh.
Are there any Norwich players you will be particularly wary of?
I haven’t seen your new payers yet but the names are almost all familiar. Wes Hoolahan has always impressed me, whilst the likes of Cameron Jerome are well established at this level and will be a threat.
And lastly, what is your prediction for the game?
I’m an eternal pessimist and despite our recent good form, and the fact we had a bit of a hold over you not too long ago, I can’t help but feel we’re going to continue the recent run of struggling against you. I’ll go for a narrow home win, 2-1.