For 90 minutes at Ashton Gate I think any City fan could have been forgiven for thinking that Ehab had mysteriously sacked Nigel Adkins and brought Leonid Slutsky back. What a mental game that was, 5-5, where does that come from?
I say that but let’s face it if any team in the championship was going to be involved in a ten-goal thriller this season it would be City. Some of the results this season have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. The reverse fixture at the KCOM back in November resulted in Bristol winning by the odd goal in five. The return fixture at Ashton Gate was doubly as entertaining with the two teams playing out one of the most entertaining games in the Championship for many a season.
In a lot of ways, the game mirrored Hull City’s season. Statistically Nigel Adkin’s side have the third best attack in the league, so you would think they would be pushing for the play-offs if not automatic promotion but when you consider they also have the third worst defence in the competition you can see why a 5-5 draw speaks volumes about the 2017-18 season.
There have been 6-1 and 5-0 massacres of Birmingham and Burton while conversely City have been spanked 5-0 by Derby and 4-1 by Sheffield United. It’s been a strange old season but at least it hasn’t been boring. The last few weeks have shown the potential this City side has while the nagging doubts over certain players, especially in defence, linger on after the high scoring draw at Ashton Gate.
City have attacking threats all over the pitch, and who said Nigel Adkins was boring? He has his side playing some excellent football so in a way it’s a shame the season has to come to end. Harry Wilson is absolutely on fire and if I had one wish it would be that the Liverpool youngster can be brought back to the KCOM on loan next season. With the way Liverpool are going at the moment he isn’t likely to see first team football so a loan season in the Championship could do wonders for the young lad in his development and it would be a great deal for City too, over to you Ehab.
Elsewhere Abel Hernandez and Fraizer Campbell are showing that City have strikers with the ability to cause teams problems throughout the Championship. I am starting to sound like a stuck record, but it is absolutely imperative we retain these players for next season so that we can push on and not endure another battle with relegation. The same goes for Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, City have a wealth of attacking talent on their hands. Retain them all, have a full pre-season and push for promotion next season, it sounds so simple but we all know it probably won’t work out like that.
While the last few weeks have been exciting, and City have now survived relatively comfortably there are still plenty of defensive issues that need to be resolved. City have conceded far too many late goals, especially ones late in games, this season which has meant they have struggled. The draw at Bristol was a perfect example, Adkin’s side did brilliantly to go from 4-2 down to 5-4 up only to be left disappointed by conceding a stoppage time goal. I believe that with the right recruitment that is something Adkins can work on in the summer and get right for next season.
So there you have it, in many ways the 5-5 thriller at Bristol City ultimately sums up City’s season. Plenty of goals and some dodgy defence. If the attack can be maintained and the defence improved, next season could be a lot more successful.