THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Pressure building on Stephen Lansdown

icon bristolcity22 October ~ The last time that I wrote a match preview for WSC, Bristol City were on a run of four wins in eight games and were looking a reasonable bet to escape relegation. We then surrendered our Championship status by failing to win any of our last nine matches. Now on a run of 20 League games without a victory, we don't particularly look like gaining one any time soon and are at a lower point than at any time in the last 30 years. The visit of Brentford, who have always been an equal match for us during my lifetime, doesn't provide optimism that we will finally become the last team in our division to record a victory this season.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong. Both the current and previous manager have achieved previous success at a similar level, and will do again away from Bristol. You could point to the fact that every time we take a defender on loan he invariably picks up a long-term injury within a fortnight. But you have to weigh up the alternative view that the problems in defence have not been addressed, by successive managers, since they arose alarmingly in the 2009-10 season.

For the first time during his tenure, the motives and methods of the club owner Stephen Lansdown are being assessed critically. While the club were upwardly mobile during the mid-2000's, it was impossible to question any of his actions on a City message board without being accused of not being a real fan.

The supporters' trust that was set up around eight years ago has been seen by many to be a second supporters' club rather than an independent-thinking body. The ownership of the ground was transferred away from the football club some years ago, but only now is the loss of the club's main, some say only, asset being widely questioned.

With the plan for a proposed new stadium having faltered, Lansdown appears to have lost some interest in his expensive toy. Previous manager Derek McInnes was required to cut costs last season, but was sacked when these cuts coincided with decline on the field. His successor Sean O'Driscoll has had no choice but to continue cutting, as this season the club will be subject to Financial Fair Play in the third tier.

O'Driscoll has been unable to move on some expensive journeymen, so is relying on youngsters and players released from other clubs to turn things around. Thirty years ago manager Terry Cooper was forced to play youngsters as the club, which had slumped into Division Four, fought back from bankruptcy, but it wasn't until he added some experienced players to the squad that things began to improve on the pitch. History is there to be learned from. Mo Davies

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