For the second time in as many seasons Bristol City’s promising mid-season push for the playoffs is threatening to fall away into nothing.
A run of thirteen games unbeaten, ended by seven wins on the bounce, has given way to five straight games without a win and just two points to show for their efforts during that run, leaving the Ashton Gate side’s playoff hopes to come into question.
As mentioned, The Robins were in a similar position this time last season, when their playoff seemed to fall away following their EFL Cup Semi Final defeat to Manchester City more than anything else, winning just four of eighteen league games in the rest of their league campaign and dropping from to eleventh in the table in the process.
This season, however, focus has been much more firmly placed on the league, despite a brief run in the FA Cup, and it is that that will make this run all the more frustrating, as will the game that started it all off.
Off the back of those aforementioned 13 games unbeaten, Lee Johnson took his Bristol City side to Carrow Road to face automatic promotion hopefuls Norwich, who in a game of outstanding finishes, ran out 3-2 winners in a topsy turvy game from which The Robins have yet to recover.
Given how close they ran a team who have become many people’s favourites for Premier League, there will be disappointment that City have been unable to regroup and rebuild around that performance if not the result.
If the Robins do indeed fall short in the race for a playoff spot, then questions may well be asked of the man in charge at Ashton Gate. In fairness to Lee Johnson, when he was originally brought into the club at the end of the 2016/17 the objective was to avoid relegation from the Championship rather than win promotion from it, something which he eventually achieved thanks to an impressive run in.
Having given the club a glimpse of the big time in back to back seasons though, that now looks likely to become a more concrete and regular ambition for the club, and if Johnson is unable to deliver that to Ashton Gate, he may soon become a victim of his own relative success.
With City just one point and one place outside the playoffs, these last ten games of the season look set to be vitally important to club and manager alike.