It has been a less than pretty season for Bristol City. One that will reap the lowest points tally since promotion in 2015 if the club do not beat Brentford on the final day.
It has been a tough period for the club. In the past 12 months, Lee Johnson and Dean Holden have both been sacked as head coach, CEO Mark Ashton is leaving for Ipswich Town, whilst injuries and medical negligence have been an embarrassingly regular occurrence.
That is not even touching the problems on the pitch. The least creative attack in the league, one of the leakiest defences, and the club has been branded ‘The worst club in the country to avoid relegation.’
Along with the injury debacle at the club, the player contract situation at the club is less than pretty to say it very lightly. 13 players are out of contract at the end of the season, and the rest of the squad have a very low sell on value compared to teams in the past.
This all leads to a massive summer for the club, as a realistic 25 first team deals will have to be sorted out. With money tight due to COVID-19, here are five players City need to go for in the coming months.
I will start of with probably the most unrealistic player to come down to Ashton Gate and that is West Bromwich Albion centre-back Kyle Bartley. The defender has played 26 Premier League matches this season, captaining the Baggies on seven occasions. The 29 year old has an abundance of experience in Championship, reaching the play-offs and then winning promotion in his two years in the second-tier with the Midlands club.
His 65% areal dual success seems low (especially when comparing to Tomas Kalas’ 77%), but is higher than his centre-back partner Semi Ajayi.
Using the website SalarySport it shows his contract is £15,000 a week, £25% cheaper than the assumed departing Nathan Baker.
Every Bristol City fan was scratching their heads and preparing their bedsheets outside Ashton Gate, when in January, the obvious lack of a fit left back was not corrected in the transfer window (until reports of Kristian Pedersen and Han-Noah Massengo loan swap deal was in the offing.)
Poor youth prospect Rylee Towler was bodged on the left of defence, instead of the easier option of signing an actual defender. Jay Dasilva is injury prone and Tommy Rowe seems to be on his way out of the club, so a replacement is desperately needed.
Amari’i Bell has only made 18 appearances for Blackburn Rovers this season, and when comparing to the output of Jay Dasilva’s 10 matches this year, the Rovers full back has higher defensive numbers, whilst creating more chances and doubling the amount of crosses.
It seems to be the end of the road at the club for Jamie Patterson, whilst Kasey Palmer has yet to show his skill level for any length of time.
Adam Reach is an excellent utility player- comparable to Andi Weimann. Reach can play through the middle or out wide on either side, where he has spent the majority of this campaign.
48 appearances in all competitions this season for the Sheffield Wednesday man has played only twice less than Antione Semenyo; but has played almost 2000 more minutes than the young winger.
11 league assists and four goals, show why there are already reports of him coming down to BS3.
The signing of the ‘experienced midfielder’ has not worked well for Bristol City in the past two years. Most fans do not want to see Henri Lansbury have his contract extension, and Markus Henriksen was never match fit.
But I do believe this would be an excellent signing if it were pulled off. Mario Vrancic has just tasted his second promotion with Norwich City, playing 31 times but has only played twice in the past 10 matches.
Available to play in centre of midfield in numerous roles, or pushed forward into an attacking midfielder, Vrancic would bring experience in the league, and in promotion, whilst being able to guide and help develop the younger midfielders of Han-Noah Massengo, Tyreeq Bakinson and even the emerging Alex Scott
Ok, so technically he would not be a ‘signing’ per se, but I do believe he is crucial for the future. I have swayed both ways on the Diedhiou debate, only swapping over to the side of keeping him a the club whilst writing this piece.
I know this will be a very unpopular opinion, and probably completely unrealistic, but with a look at the other strikers available for free, only James Collins has scored more than the Senegalese.
To put it honestly, we have been crap this season, and chances have been very few and very far between. Last season, we relied on the service of Nicolas Eliasson, which bought rewards, but this year no one on the team has been anywhere near creative enough.
Despite all this, Famara’s numbers have improved compared to his previous three years down Ashton Gate.
His conversion rate is at an all time high at 29.63% (this may be because of his lowest amount of shots per 90), his shot accuracy is 14% higher than his second best season at the club. He has had to contest more aerial duals, winning 55% of all aerial duals.
To put it simply, he is far out the best option for a striker, and I do believe keeping him is imperative.
There are others who would interest Nigel Pearson in the summer: Jordan Rhodes, Jake Forster-Caskey and Ryan Nyambe to name three. Whatever happens, we all sure hope it turns out right, otherwise, it will be a long season.