After a less than stellar performance this year in the championship, Bristol City need a few changes if they are to go one step further than the 2007-08 campaign, where they lost in the playoff final to Hull City.
Changes in staff, both on and off the pitch, have been made but more must be done to achieve at least a spot in the top six next season.
After Gary Johnson’s four-season reign at The Robins ended in March, assistant manager Keith Millen took charge and did a great job for the remaining games.
However, the news that Stevie Coppell would take over in May made many fans exited at the prospect of the club moving forward. Millen is also to remain as assistant manager, which is a very wise decision.
Millen has been at the club for many years and will hopefully help Coppell in suggesting who should leave the club—of which, there are many candidates.
The main issues that should be dealt with before the start of the season are to do with the playing staff. The goalkeeper position in my opinion needs to be dealt with immediately.
Dean Gerken seems to split opinion amongst Bristol City fans. Personally, I don’t think that he is a reliable goalkeeper, and for City to move forward they need someone to rely on. After the sad departure of club legend Adriano Basso, Gerken has not stepped up to plate to replace him.
This position is especially important for City, who tend to not score many goals, excluding Nicky Maynard, who this season was joint top goalscorer in the championship.
A replacement needs to be found or Stephen Henderson could be given a chance—but that could prove risky as he is not really tested at this level. I couldn’t speculate who City could replace Gerken with, but it is an area Coppell needs to address soon.
Other players that could be leaving for various reasons are Ivan Sproule, Paul Hartley, Gavin Williams, and Bradley Orr. These are only a few names that have been mentioned as leaving—possibly leading to a mass exodus of the current squad.
Sproule in my opinion is the championship's version of Theo Walcott. Unbelievable pace but never any end product—and City need someone on the wing who can deliver a cross every now and again.
If he stays at the club I will be extremely shocked. Not only does he not have an end product but he is constantly arguing with players and staff.
At the last game of the season (away at Blackpool FC), he had no communication with right back Orr or any of his fellow midfielders. I see no benefit in him staying at the club.
Hartley is a great player in my opinion, but he apparently wants to move back up to Scotland where his wife and child still live. I completely understand if he wants to move back up North.
Gavin Williams went on loan at the end of the season to Yeovil Town and looks likely to leave. It all depends on what Coppell and his backroom staff make of him in preseason.
There have been rumors of Orr leaving the club in recent weeks. I Hope this is not true as he is one of the best players at the club. If he does leave, Coppell will need to find a replacement quickly.
Orr will most likely end up in a low-rated team in the Premier League if he does decide to leave.
Now then, Peter Styvar is someone who I don’t really know what is going to happen to. When he was signed by Gary Johnson, he was used as a striker. A striker who didn’t score a goal in his nine games at the club. Not surprising that he is in fact a left back.
I could not speculate on his future, as City fans have not seen him in his natural position.
It is clear that there are many areas where the squad needs to be changed. Another key area is up front, where Maynard needs a goalscoring partner.
Clarkson, Akinde, and Haynes do not score enough goals, a major concern if Coppell aims to get this side promoted to the promise land of the Premier League. There have been rumours of Coppell bringing in a few Reading players, including Shane Long—who I would love to see at the club in the near future.
Another striker liked with the club is Swindon Town’s Charlie Austin, who has had a great season. He's another player who could do a job for the club, however, is untested at this level.
In my opinion, the area that City has to improve on most is the midfield. For many, many years the club has been lacking a midfielder who can score more than two or three goals a season.
If possible, Coppell should do all he can to secure the signing of Robert Koren. I know it is an unlikely signing but this would be an incredible coup for the club.
As a fan, I am delighted than Coppell is now at the helm but this summer is vital if City are to have any chance of getting promoted.