Although there had been rumours and gossip, most Bristol City fans thought that the signing of England’s number one goalkeeper was just a pipe dream. When the news broke that David James had indeed signed for Bristol City, fans were stunned, delighted and newly optimistic. Bristol City have not made such a marquee signing since most fans can care to remember, but almost as important as the signing of David James is the statement of intent that comes with it, and the ambition the club has shown. James could well be a stellar performer this season, but he is now 40 and is in the twilight of his career. Two other signings were made on the day David James signed for the club, and understandably they somewhat slipped under the radar amid the excitement. Bristol City also signed Bolton’s right-back Nicky Hunt and QPR’s Damion Stewart. Nicky Hunt has been a decent Premier League performer, but in the Championship he should be one of the best at what he does in the league. Damion Stewart is perhaps less well known, but he won QPR’s 2008/09 Player of the Year award is a behemoth in the centre of defence. If these signings gel, and one or two more are brought in then Bristol City will have a squad capable of making a strong challenge in the Championship, and supporters will be hoping for a play-off place at the least.
One issue though, has tempered Bristol City’s fans’ excitement this summer. The club are intending to build a new ground, which could be one of England’s 2018 World Cup stadia should the country win the bid. Bristol City Council have however, turned down Sainsbury’s bid to buy the land of Bristol City’s current ground which they wanted to turn into a superstore. Sainsbury’s buying of the current ground is absolutely critical financially and so currently Bristol City’s attempt to build a new stadium will not go ahead. Fans of the club are highly disappointed at the news and there has been a great deal of anger directed at the City Council which has been accused of showing a lack of ambition. If Bristol City is to become a long-term force within English football, then moving to a new stadium seems necessary. This season though, fans still have good cause for optimism and can hold the belief that the club can be promoted to the Premier League in the near future.
Just as important as the new signings is the new manager that has taken the helm at Bristol City. Steve Coppell is widely respected in the game, doing sterling work as a manager at Crystal Palace and Reading. Coppell led both these clubs to the top tier of English football, where they both performed admirably. Steve Coppell has proven success of getting clubs into the Premiership and getting them to perform when they get there, and Bristol City fans will be hoping he can do the same at his new club. Supporters will be hoping the club can hold onto striker Nicky Maynard, who finished as second top scorer in the Championship last season, and sign a couple more players before the end of the transfer window. If that happens, Bristol City should be a strong side within the league this season. If they don’t get promoted this term then Coppell and the club will have the ambition to do so before his contract expires, and the fans may well get to see the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal at Ashton Gate sooner rather than later.
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