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Soccer
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Bristol City's Look Back on the Season from the New Year

IslandStats.com
It was an unprecedented season, one which lasted some 355 days, with its fair share of talking points.

It was full of highs and lows and a case of so-nearly for Nahki Wells and his Bristol City, who ended the campaign seven points outside the top six.

Bristol City takes a look back at the season that was once Wells arrived, with memorable wins, a move to behind closed doors, and more...

While City lost Brownhill in the transfer window, the return of Jamie Paterson alongside the signings of Wells, Markus Henriksen, and Filip Benković boosted the squad.

February was a tough test with just two wins from seven fixtures which included losses to Leeds United and the Baggies – a 3-2 victory over Derby County would be the last of Lee Johnson’s era as head coach.

But the 125th anniversary game for the visit of Fulham on March 7th brought some relief, in what was a day to celebrate the club’s history and Wells headed home his second goal since the January move in the 1-1 draw. Little did anyone know then but the season would come to an abrupt halt.

Pandemic forces football’s postponement

By this point, there had been talk of a new virus sweeping across the globe, but the seriousness of the outbreak and its ramifications were not yet fully known. There were sudden developments in the week leading up to the Blackburn Rovers fixture, and the initial postponement brought the realization that something far more important than a game of football was going on. Lockdown and the suspension of sport plunged everyone into a state of confusion and the unknown.

The players were given their own equipment and many shared their lockdown stories via social media. The club worked as hard as ever to be ready for the restart, if and when that was going to be.

After a number of weeks, whispers of return to play dates soon did the rounds and eventually, the EFL confirmed a return to training policy. It has transformed since the initial return date but to the very end of the season, players were still tested twice weekly for Covid-19 though training has been allowed to return to some degree of normality, with social distancing rules adhered to off the pitches at all times.

The new normal

With the coronavirus still present, football had to return without supporters in the stands and it was obvious that players needed time to get back into a playing rhythm and adjust to unfamiliar matchdays.

For City, it was the worst restart imaginable with four defeats in a row, starting the slip at Blackburn Rovers on June 20th. That made it nine games without a win and the last of those, the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff, meant time was up for Johnson after four-and-a-half years in charge.

It was a sad time for the group, to see a hardworking manager whose philosophy had helped to progress the club in recent years but with change comes new opportunities and it was one taken by Dean Holden. A familiar face with the squad having been Assistant Head Coach since November 2016, Holden got City back to winning ways.

The win over Hull City, followed by a comprehensive 3-1 victory away to Middlesbrough gave City a minor lifeline but the draw with Stoke City and eventually defeat at Swansea dashed their outside hopes of stealing sixth-place. City and Preston North End met on the final day but it was a fixture with nothing riding on it play-off wise for either side.

A new chapter

Now is the time for a fresh start, to learn from what has been a tough journey and get set for a new ride with optimism, belief, and confidence. After all, the new season kicks off over the weekend of September 12th and that will come around quickly! With fans hopefully back in the stands at some stage, football will return with some degree of normality too…
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