A Tale of Two Cities

Steve Coppell and Keith Millen

Bristol City could argue that they had one of the worst starts in the Football League this season, after just two matches, both losses, new manager Steve Coppell had resigned with immediate effect; not only this but he had also left behind a disjointed team with an impressive injury list, which included many of the signings he had made. Many fans felt angered and betrayed by Coppell’s sudden departure, especially since so many of them had put their faith in him. Keith Millen, who was caretaker manager for the later part of the 09/10 season, was announced as the new manager on three-year deal soon after Coppell’s had left.

Keith Millen had an impressive record while being assistant manager at City since 2004, he also had been successful in his various roles as caretaker manger at the club over the years. But many fans understandably were worried about his lack of experience as an out and out manager. These worries continued as City only managed to win two out of their first 10 league games, something that was not helped by the numerous injury problems at the club. Notably that of last seasons top goal scorer Nicky Maynard, who is still yet to make an appearance this season.

This left City languishing in the relegation zone, however recently City have been getting the results they deserve, and have started to climb up the Championship table. With only one defeat in their last nine games they currently have one of the best records in the league. I feel this is down to Keith Millen bringing some much needed stability to the club, after such a turbulent start to the season.

The return of some key players from injury, and a few loan signings have also helped with City’s recent successes. Millen has brought in Spurs duo Danny Rose and Stephen Caulker in on loan. The young centre back Caulker, has turned out to be an inspired signing, especially as the usual rock at the back and captain Louis Carey has been in and out of the team this season with injuries.

Loan signings can be so important for clubs in the Football League. The extra strains teams go under often mean their squads need bolstering, and it’s always good to see that a large proportion of these loan imports are normally up and coming stars from the Premier League. This is definitely something I feel English football should make greater use of in the development of it’s younger talent. The strength of the leagues below the Premiership are, I would say, comparably the best in the World (have aread of ‘The Championship, the wonder kids shop window’), and it’s certainly a resource that is not utilized to its full extent currently.

I also think that in most cases all parties involved with a loan deal are winners, the loaned player helps out the host club and can often get the best out of other squad players, while they themselves grow and improve. In the end this may lead to a permanent deal or the player returning to their club to challenge for a first team place. City will certainly be hoping for the former with both the Tottenham youngsters they have at the moment.

Catalysts, such as these have helped City go from strength to strength after every game, building on the positives, and ironing out the negatives.

Brett Pitman who has been in incredible form for City

Therefore Millen has been able to develop the squad as a unit, rather as individuals, meaning they have been able to continue this run of good form. New players, such as Brett Pitman and Albert Adomah also seem to have now integrated into the club well, which has been vital to City’s recent form. Both were slow to start but have now proved their worth with Pitman City’s joint top scorer, and Adomah top of the assist charts.

Also with the Championship being the league it is, Bristol City can now start to look ahead to the possibility of a play-off place, rather than the task of trying to avoid relegation. That in no way means it’s going to be easy, City’s poor start has given them a lot of work to do. But the Championship has proven to be so close and open at the top in recent seasons, which means any number of teams, especially those that have significant runs of good form, can make the play-off places.

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One Response to A Tale of Two Cities

  1. Pingback: FC Copenhagen: A European Adventure « upper90magazine

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