One Blog in Bristol: Ten Games Into the Season, Tenth in the League; Marks Out of Ten?

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After a start to the new season which finds Bristol City sitting comfortably in tenth, podcaster Stanley Hughes gives his assessment of the year to date.

Bristol City FC fans celebrate a goal.

I’ve heard a few times from managers that the league table starts to settle after ten games. That could honestly be a load of nonsense. What with it being a nice round number, why not assess our start to the campaign? 

The beginning of the season is almost always met with excitement. New signings, a clean slate for the existing squad and a chance for fans to remind themselves of what they’ve been missing. You always hear a few shouts of “it’s our year”, those are inevitable. Maybe less so this time around… 

There was lots of debate amongst fans about what would consist of a good season. So many factors affecting our pre-conceived notion of where we should all be aiming to finish. A new CEO, a mid-pandemic transfer market and the return of spectators. Would our demands be higher having been starved of football for so long? Would we just be happy to watch our beloved team again regardless of the performances?

Like We Never Went Away…

In the first ten games I honestly feel that not much has changed in regards to supporter satisfaction, it’s like we never went away. City fans still groan as much as before COVID, we probably make a similar amount of noise when it’s going well. I wrote a few weeks ago about the need for me to lower my expectations. The need to show patience when evaluating our progress under Nigel Pearson. Even the most pessimistic City fan would agree we’ve seen a vast improvement in these first ten games. Perhaps not surprising considering in our final ten games of last season we brought home three points. Zero wins. 

To be tenth after ten games represents a respectable achievement in the eyes of many. We were inept when last season drew to a close. It was so bad you had to laugh or you’ll cry. Some things have carried over into this season, we’ve conceded a few soft late goals. Forest Green Rovers in the cup, Blackpool and Luton in the league. Our home form is once again letting us down, we’re yet to win at Ashton Gate this season. Something quite perplexing, it needs sorting out. We’ve only kept one clean sheet, despite Pearson talking up the need to be defensively solid. The need to build from the back, based on solid foundations. 

Solid if Not Spectacular

Despite all these negatives, we are tenth. If at the end of the season we finished there it would represent the joint highest placement since 07/08. Tenth should not be sniffed at. I went to Reading, Cardiff and QPR away. All beautiful wins, brilliant memories. Keep that away form going throughout the season and we’ll be alright. If I had to give our start a rating? 7/10. The performances have been solid, the results have been solid and the signings have looked solid.

Nigel Pearson hasn’t exactly been given a war chest to utilise in the market. We’ve had to settle for frees like King and James. Lower league bargains like Tanner and Atkinson. All four have impressed, all four seem like personalities who will buy into the collective ethos of a Pearson team. I’m sure they’ll be content with their early Bristol City performances.

Although we should all be content with the start we have made. We can’t read too much into it. This time last season we had 17 points, Dean Holden had begun to win over the fans and we were playing frantic football. Despite the lack of shots we were looking brilliant. I can’t see this season going south like the last. The disparity in experience between the two head coaches will surely become apparent as the season progresses. I’m expecting a bumpy road this time around but the signs are that this team will continue to grow under Nigel Pearson. 

Stanley Hughes is host of the popular ‘One Stream In Bristol’, the original Bristol City FC podcast. He writes about The Robins every week for MansionBet.

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