The first day of the season is for most fans the one day where they can dare to dream that their side will reach heights as yet unknown to them. More often than not however, these hopes and dreams are shot down in flames. This was certainly the case at Ashton Gate on Saturday. The signing of David James had filled Bristol City fans with optimism, and most were predicting a comfortable opening home win against newly promoted Millwall. Inevitably though, it did not turn out that way and Millwall ran out 3-0 winners. So what are the five things we can learn from this defeat, and can Bristol City still have hope for a great season?
1. One signing does not make a team
Unless Cristiano Ronaldo had miraculously decided he wanted to relocate to the West Country and sign for Bristol City, one signing will never guarantee a team success. It was David James’ signing that had filled supporters with such optimism and had fans talking of promotion. Yet he was powerless as City woefully underperformed and conceded three goals. A marquee signing is great, but the whole team will need to perform if Bristol City are to progress this season.
2. Injuries can have a major effect
For teams such as Bristol City, and most of those in the Championship, having a long injury list can have a crippling effect. In this case City were missing seven first team players, including captain Louis Carey, key players Nicky Maynard and Danny Haynes, as well as new signings Nicky Hunt and Kalifa Cisse. A club like Bristol City simply cannot cope with these amount of injuries, and they will need these players back soon if they are to get their season back on track.
Greeted with almost as much fanfare as David James, Steve Coppell has inspired City fans with the confidence that he can repeat his successes at Crystal Palace and Reading at Bristol City. Fans and players were singing his praises before the game, but it proves that there is only so much a manager can do as the team performed badly. Coppell would have been highly disappointed with his team’s curtain raiser and he will have to demand his players improve if he is to repeat his former successes.
4. The opening game does not define the season
Norwich City’s opening day 1-7 hammering at the hands of Colchester in League One last season probably gave many Canaries’ fans nightmares about their prospects that season. Yet Norwich went on to win the league comfortably. The opening game is not going to define Bristol City’s season, the club could still go on to success; but an opening day win can galvanise a team and Coppell will be very disappointed with the defeat.
The first fixtures of the season often turn out to be the most unpredictable ones of the campaign. Bristol City’s was not the only shock of the opening day. Middlesbrough suffered a 1-3 home defeat to Ipswich whilst in League One, Plymouth grabbed a 0-1 away win against division favourites Southampton. There are bound to be more surprises as the Premier League gets underway this weekend. Anyone inclined to make a bet, might be better of biding their time for a few weeks to have a better chance of getting a return.