Johnson and his 4-5-1
For two seasons now, Bristol City have pleased the senses with the grassbound style favoured by the wily Gary Johnson, supplemented by the occasional hump forward to towering Dele Adebola. Though some way short of prolific, with just 16 goals across two seasons, the Nigerian born front man’s power was ever a menace to the opposition and the extent to which he will be missed is underlined by a mischievous wikipedia poster claiming his move to join Billy Davies’ Nottingham Forest revolution will ruin the striker’s career.
This is unlikely to be the case and conversely, there is now a gaping hole in the City front row. Ulsterman Ivan Sproule flits in and out, but having started his career as a promising striker for Hibs, is now cast as yet another midfielder in a team that is brimful of them. For goals, City will now have to rely on last summer’s major purchase Nicky Maynard – although 11 goals from 41 games turned no heads – and newcomer David Clarkson, with over two hundred games for Motherwell behind him. At under ten stone, the Scotland B international won’t match Adebola’s physicality but the necessary change of tactics will keep opponents guessing.
Back to that midfield and, as Johnson is a common exponent of the now ubiquitous 4-5-1, it’s possible that an “either or” situation will develop between Maynard and Clarkson for the lone striker position. Gavin Williams, Cole Skuse, Marvin Elliott and Michael McIndoe all link neatly in a fluid formation, although the latter two listed are by no means guaranteed to stay at Ashton Gate themselves. The midfield palate combines well with a mobile defence that includes the talented Liam Fontaine and all action aggression of captain Louis Carey. If Clarkson can have the same impact in a Robins’ shirt as that enjoyed by Martin Paterson for Burnley last term, then City may have an outside chance of figuring in the promotion race; a goal drought having cost them for two seasons now.