Johnson and his 4-5-1

Posted by on Jul 5, 2009 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Bristol City’s woes are likely to be the norm | The Two Unfortunates
    December 6, 2012

    […] can look upon the red and white plight with a sense of real ease. In the early days of this blog, I wrote admiringly of the home grown bunch of players assembled by Gary Johnson and what seemed to be a model concern […]

  2. Eye Witness Assessment: Ipswich Town | The Two Unfortunates
    August 5, 2013

    […] Trees; David McGoldrick reaping hay through the middle at the point of Southampton’s attack; Cole Skuse, the fulcrum around which Gary Johnson’s Bristol City sides revolved; and Christophe Berra […]

  3. Yeovil Town: Three Sent Off But All Three Outstanding | The Two Unfortunates
    March 4, 2014

    […] would be a little unfair on Gary Johnson though — a man who has come to the Mad Stad and out thought his opposite number before. True, Yeovil had little option but to re-enact scenes from the movie 300 once their numbers […]


Leave a Reply to Bristol City’s woes are likely to be the norm | The Two Unfortunates

Cancel Reply