This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether fans were right to react in that way….
When Lee Johnson departed Bristol City back in July 2020, Robins fans were hoping for a real fresh start, with the club having grown stagnant under their former midfielder’s management.
Johnson had been in charge at Ashton Gate for four years, and had never gotten into the play offs of the Championship during that time despite significant investment.
Of course players had been sold on as well during Johnson’s time in charge but money was always reinvested, and once his sacking had been announced the rumour mill went into overdrive.
But not many would have predicted that City would’ve made the ‘cheap’ appointment when they announced Dean Holden – Johnson’s long-term assistant – to be their new manager on a one-year deal back in August.
Holden was appointed on the strength of continuity and having only lost one of City’s five games at the back end of last season when in caretaker charge.
Are you Bristol City mad? Try get 20 out of 20 on this Robins quiz all about the club’s season so far
For many it was just the cheap option for the club but others were happy – check out some of the reactions when it was announced.
Good appointment in my opinion, clearly we won’t spend anything, at least he knows the players and club, will care about the job more than Houghton, don’t slate lansdown or Ashton there only doing what’s best for the club, that’s why we’re in the championship not league one
— Andy Peterson (@andy_peterson1) August 10, 2020
— Raymond Pilkington (@RaymondPilking1) August 10, 2020
The only way to get the point across is boycotting, and not putting any money into the club!
— Jack Sealy (@JackSealy9) August 10, 2020
I thought they wanted someone with pedigree of getting promotion??? Sorry Deano, but you haven't got it.
— QueensCross (@queenscross15) August 10, 2020
What a joke 5 weeks to announce Holden. Absolute shambles. @JonLansdown get mark Ashton out of our club
— dan stockford (@danstockford) August 10, 2020
Joke of a club! Not wanting to spend the money to get a proven championship manger and would settle with labelling the joke with inner club team promotion
— josh (@Joshxwarren) August 10, 2020
disgusting. what a sad state of affairs.
— nathan creedy (@Creedy__) August 10, 2020
Cheap option and a clubs lack of ambition but hopefully be proved wrong
— lee manchip (@leemanchip1) August 11, 2020
The general consensus was that of unhappiness due to the fact it took the club five weeks to make an appointment, and when they did it wasn’t a manager with a proven track record like Chris Hughton that was coming in, but a man who had not experienced senior management.
And in the end, the nay-sayers were proven right – but it wasn’t always like that.
City started the season in fine fettle, winning their first four games and they were in the automatic promotion places until gameweek eight, and following a win over Derby County in November, results started to nosedive.
Injuries did not help matters, with the likes of Andreas Weimann, Jamie Paterson, Jay Da Silva, Alfie Mawson amongst several others who were sidelined at the same time, but they cannot be used as excuses.
With a squad that on paper should really be near the play offs, City had lost five of their seven league games in 2021, and the most recent defeat to Reading was the final straw for the City board, who relieved Holden of his duties.
The initial success may have been a result of the continuity and good spirit from the end of the last season, but once a few injuries hit, City became disjointed and almost unrecoverable.
Surely now Steve Lansdown will turn to a more experienced head to steady the ship at Ashton Gate to try and finally deliver Premier League football to the city of Bristol – at least that’s what Robins fans are hoping for.