Friday, 9 November 2012

Fight your fear says Robins boss

Bristol City boss Steve McInnes has urged his players to fight the fear and apprehension they feel as they face Charlton on Sunday: Fear factor

I can see why the Robins supremo may be apprehensive, given that his side have lost six games on the trot and Charlton have a strong away record. However, I am not sure 'overcome your nerves' is the best message to send out to his players. Indeed, the usual implict message when the Addicks visit is 'easy three points'. One wonders if what McInnes is really frightened of is succumbing to the curse of Charlton and losing his job.

While Tuesday's victory over Cardiff will have given the team a confidence boost, it is clear that the injury wracked Charlton side is fragile at the back, although getting Solly and Morrison back into position must help. The performance by Danny Haynes was also a bright spot on Tuesday.

The City fan writing in Four Four Two at the beginning of the season wasn't too optimistic about their chances. He noted 'Relegation is a genuine possibility this year' and forecast a bottom six finish, noting that the team 'lacked quality'. Indeed, this was evident in a season-long struggle against relegation and a 20th place finish last season. Four Four Two had the Robins finishing 23rd, but The Football League Paper had them finishing 20th again.

The Times also had them at 23rd (where they are now) noting that 'The somewhat underwhelming raft of summer arrivals does little to suggest the club can improve on their scrape with relegation.'

So what is going on down there? Bristol is a major city with a strong sense of pride and identity: it is the only city voting for its own elected mayor this month. Admittedly, there are two football clubs in the city in what has always been egg chasing territory. Indeed, City chairman Steve Lansdown became the major shareholder in the leading local rugby side earlier this year, having been bankrolling them since 2008: Egg chasing . They don't seem to have been that successful either.

Chairman Lansdown is by nature fairly cautious, although plans for a new stadium had run into all sorts of problems with NIMBY opposition. The club faced a legal setback in their battle earlier this year and one wonders how much it has been a distraction from building up the team: Ashton Vale . With his business partner he built up Hargreaves Lansdown from a back bedroom operation into a major listed company providing a funds and shares supermarket service. [They are my stockbrokers and I have to say that I am very satsified with them]. He sold a 4.7 per cent stake in the company for over £47m in 2009 and now lives in Guernsey. In 2010 he realised another £58m. But evidently he is not in the business of splashing his hard earned cash on the team.

I originally had this game down as a draw, but the Addicks could well win. Odds (Coral) are: Bristol City 11/8, Draw 5/2, Charlton 9/5.

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