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Showing content with the highest reputation on 04/04/2021 in all areas

  1. It's still far too early to have doubt in my opinion. He's still got the same half fit squad Holden had, and has only been able to bring in Simpson. There has been improvement in patches - some really solid performances. Massengo appears to be doing well under him - and more talented players blossoming is generally a good endorsement of the manager. I won't be judging too much until next season. We aren't being thrashed every game, and it's clear from his comments he can see there's plenty to improve. We need to get behind him and the team and hope the board allow him to make the improvements we clearly need.
    18 points
  2. I reckon he’s not left completely and has continued to take charge for home games.
    15 points
  3. I think the fans, while not supportive of the appointment, were pretty supportive of him personally at the beginning in the circumstances? I never felt it got overly toxic towards Holden, not when you compare it to the hatred some felt/feel towards the head coach he replaced. He was obviously helped by fans not being allowed in, mind you!
    12 points
  4. He’s inherited an awful mismatch of a squad with some players not good enough and others injured. It’s a problem that’s been slowly building over the last few years and it’s going to take a good clear out in the summer to start to improve results. SL has brought him in for the long term. Judge him at the end of next season
    9 points
  5. We are weak in effort too. The intensity of what we do is miles off what’s required to compete consistently. I think he’s in a delicate position. Got to suss out who the influencers are, some of them might be quiet influencers. Pull the wrong levers and the players won’t play. I think we are seeing some of that playing out, hence some of his softly, softly approach, whilst forming his opinions. In a perverse way I’m glad results haven’t been great, and performances worse in some respects, as he’s getting to see Bristol City “warts n all” and enable him to judge properly. I think he wants to sort it out quickly but he can’t be going in too strong whilst his position is insecure. Get him signed properly and then see him go to work. Yep, CH came in after the window closed and it takes time to change things with a squad built by Lamouchi (who I thought was unlucky to lose his job). He’s started to get them going. They are 4 points behind us. Back to the OP....no problem having doubts, but there’s a bigger picture at play here, bigger than results and performances. We have a squad, a weak squad mentally, who are unsure of their futures. That was caused by last summer’s decision to put contract discussions on hold. Come Xmas and still no idea about their futures, talks still on hold, yet a big contract being offered to one player. I suspect it’s a pretty dispirited camp, despite what we are told. Kalas’s interview told me a lot. NP’s calling out of HNM on Friday to get his critical point across to others tells me more. Ultimately no guarantee that NP will be a success, but reasons to be positive. I really don’t care too much about results over the next 7 games. I’m sure NP would like a home win, to get that monkey off his back, but he’s been given a lovely little spread of games to get his head around this squad. Those 3 (2 under him) wins put to bed relegation and gave him the blank canvas.
    8 points
  6. It’s all just excuses, an easy cop out excuse. They bring it out on robinstv as well “need to fans to suck the goal into the net”. What always gets left out though, is that we were this bad at home with fans in the ground too. It’s been probably 3 calendar years that we’ve been poor at home now.
    8 points
  7. If we start having doubts every time we lose a few games then no manager will ever do enough to convince.
    8 points
  8. I get the impression he has taken it quite badly. A few people suggested he felt genuinely let down by the players. I suspect he never quite bridged the gap between matey coach and manager which would've made the failure harder to take.
    8 points
  9. I think this says it all.. Pretty accurate though tbf
    7 points
  10. They are right though, the atmosphere is in tents.
    7 points
  11. I like the guy in that thread that effectively says 'this season is a write-off due to no fans so if we are relegated it shouldn't count'
    7 points
  12. No you can't please everyone but we have been crying out for an experienced Chamionship proven manager for years we now have one and still some people don't seem happy
    7 points
  13. Diedhiou...really???.... He's taking the proverbial. As dog shit bad as we are I'd still not want this clown in town. Anyways,,, We'll lose whomever we put out there - season's a dead rubber.. Pleased to see your still interested in it though!!
    7 points
  14. His second spell at Leicester he was in charge for 182 games, you don’t think that is “staying anywhere for long”? His “ordinary” record includes 2 title wins as a manager, one of them The Championship, with 102 points.. The rest of it is your opinion, but comparing his record to that of Barton is frankly totally ******* embarrassing. As for the WDL bit, you do realise he has only been able to bring in one player, a free agent?
    7 points
  15. If you don’t like conspiracy theories stop reading now!!! With Steve Lansdown revealing on the 3 Peeps Podcast interview that he is actively looking for new investors I thought I would check out the status of the Ipswich Town take over by an American backed group with, allegedly, some connections to Mark Ashton. This article from the local paper on 30th March confirms it hasn’t happened yet through some sort of stumbling block but that a recent Land Registry search suggests the deal might be back on: https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich-town-takeover-rumours-latest-update-7861492 The company conducting the search was Gamechanger 20 Ltd. A free of charge check on Companies House shows this company was formed last year and while most of the named directors are US Citizens there is one Brit on there by the name of Michael Kevin O’Leary. This link shows he has 3 current directorship appointments and another 35 in the past: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/Brxiejo2pDlcMx711-DW-WZ_0bE/appointments Scrolling down on that link you will see that O’Leary was a Director of West Bromwich Albion from 5/02 – 12/03 which coincides with Mark Ashton’s time there before the latter left to join Watford. Move forward to 2014 and this list of O’Leary’s past appointments shows that he was, in the summer of that year, appointed a Director of 2 companies, Alycidon Ltd and Oxford United Football Club. He resigned from both on 30th October 2015. This is Mark Ashton’s Companies House listing of appointments: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/qoejyvFelWmTZsZ99NjiaO44bh8/appointments His LinkedIn Profile says he was a Director of WBA from 1990-2004. That does not appear on Companies House which itself is not unusual – you can have Director in your job title but not be registered. For the latter part of his time there he would, as noted above, had regular contact with Michael O’Leary. In May 2014 ALYCIDON Ltd [name changed from Ensco 1070 in 2019] was formed and its two founding directors were Mark Ashton and Michael O’Leary. On 4th July 2014 both were appointed Director at Oxford United F.C. As stated above, O’LEARY resigned in October 2015 and Ashton two months later although I reckon it was on the same day, the date discrepancy due to late filing perhaps. So, clearly, Ashton & O’Leary have a business relationship that extends back to 2002 and whilst it hasn’t been denied anywhere that I’ve read, there is substance in the claim that our CEO must have had some involvement in the Ipswich takeover even if it was just helping out a mate!!! Now bringing things right up to the present, if you are a bunch of US guys looking to invest in an English football club [not the whole Bristol Sport thing] who would be your preferred choice: City or Ipswich? The Suffolk side had their successes over 30 years ago and, compared to Ashton Gate, Portman Road is a stadium that needs overhaul. Both sides can pull crowds of c24000. On balance, I think City would be most peoples’ choice – agree? So the question is can we see Mark Ashton leading these Americans down to the west country and give Steve Lansdown the investment that he wants so that he can exit all the hassle of running a football club but still retain the infrastructure and bask in the joy of taking the credit for a rugby club that is poised to be among Europe’s elite for a lot less grief and a lot less money? We said on FBC Podcast several weeks ago that we felt Lansdown might be looking for an out on the football side of things. We also said it was either folly or part of some curious masterplan to let so many contracts run down allowing a complete overhaul of the squad this summer. Chairman Jon Lansdown appears out of the loop in terms of key decisions – unless someone can confirm otherwise he has been enjoying his life in sunny Bermuda for at least 6 months.I am becoming concerned that Ashton has more power than we think. Why do I say that? It was disturbing to hear Steve say that he has yet to meet Pearson in person. This could and should have already happened. Wouldn’t you want to meet the guy in person who has the track record to take the main element of the Bristol Sport brand, and that is BRISTOL CITY, to the “next level” [his words when firing Lee Johnson]. OK, on return to Guernsey their Covid regime is that he would have to stay at home for 10 days – no hardship when you see his home there and he’s probably not come off the island this year?!!!! Is it Ashton who is responsible for this dragging of feet when it comes to confirming Pearson who yesterday said it will be too late to defer a decision to appoint him full time until the summer - give him a 3 year contract NOW? Could we find, come August, that the entity which is BCFC is under a new board composed of Americans plus Michael O’Leary [?] with Ashton at the helm as guardian of their investment and Michael Appleton, not Nigel Pearson, in charge of things on the field – it’s a nightmare scenario for me but it will be very interesting to see what plays out on & off the field in the 118 days between now and 1ST August!! If you’ve read this far you are as mad me and need to get out more!!!!
    6 points
  16. Players who let LJ down, DH down and now can’t be arsed for NP. Comes a time when you have to look at changing the players not the Manager, particularly when so many of them are out of contract. Yes, some of them will go elsewhere with the security of a new contract and start putting it in again. Good for them if they do but they’re no good to us. I certainly won’t be saying “should have kept them” if they do because as sure as night follows day they’ll revert to type in the end.
    6 points
  17. If you want conspiracy theories, I reckon Mark Ashton could be "H" in Line of Duty.
    6 points
  18. I assume (hope) legal challenges etc will be coming.
    6 points
  19. It sounds a bit daft but I’m happy that some of the players have shown their true colours . If NP had had the same initial impact that MM has had at Cardiff then it would have done nothing more than paper over the cracks. The squad has been unravelling for a few seasons now . I said it when Holden was in charge , I could see a repeat of the 2013 season . A lopsided oversized squad of largely shite journeymen players & it was happening again. People looking at a few results & judging NP as not up to it have to realise the size of the job at hand . It’s great that there’s so many OOC , the squad really does need ripping apart & starting from scratch. We’re weak mentally & physically , it’s crept in over the last few years. It’s embarrassing to watch .
    6 points
  20. The guy is clearly out of his depth looking at the results since he’s come in. Look how Lee Johnson is getting on at Sunderland. Young English hungry manager go get him sl
    6 points
  21. No, you are not the only one. The initial buzz and gratitude that we aren't going to be lumbered with another with a football manager age of three weeks, has been tempered by actual happenings. Rather than say that I have lost confidence in Nigel, it's just a realisation that he has a mammoth task in front of him to put right about four years of poor player recruitment and a pattern of negative playing style that is now permanently engraved in the minds of most of the squad. Rome wasn't built in a day and we can just hope that it will not take a hundred or so years. So we must believe in Nigel Pearson to turn us around but it will not be today or next month. Keep the faith @SecretSam with all the rest of us.
    6 points
  22. 'Compact and intimidating' stadium apparently.....'ramshackle and embarrassing' would be a more apt description. Absolute bunch of delusion belters.
    6 points
  23. The results haven’t been great, in fact at home they have been terrible. However for me there are 2 points; Firstly he has had no opportunity (bar Danny Simpson, a free agent) to bring in any players himself, so has inherited what I think is a mediocre, injury hit squad. He is also working with Holden’s (& some cases, LJ’s) coaching staff. Secondly this time in charge is going to be totally wasted if we decided to look elsewhere (I don’t think we will, by the way) and so appoint a third manager/head coach in a year. No time to see players in games & made informed decisions on who stays & leaves. We have to trust his track record, which was the main reason I was always completely opposed to Holden’s appointment.
    6 points
  24. Britton for Diedhiou
    6 points
  25. For the life of me I cannot see the point once everyone has been offered the jab. If it is 80%+ take up we'll reach the famed herd immunity anyway. It might make sense while some haven't been jabbed but what is the point after they have? If it is to force those young people who don't want it that's wrong. Why should they if they don't agree with it? Those 'put in danger' have been vaccinated so most won't get seriously ill. I find it baffling that it is even being considered.
    6 points
  26. The 3PIAP comment that SL didn’t think LJ was ready, but that LJ was very persuasive was a “shocking” (ok too strong a word) revelation for me. How persuasive was LJ over recruitment too? SL’s judgement typified by his comment about the Johnsons being friends. Nor do you need to either. Take your time. But it doesn’t mean he’s not a good fit either. (Continued below ) A write off in terms of league status. And therefore I think he’s experimenting, giving players a chance before making his mind up. Had we not got those couple of wins after Holden was sacked and sat here only 5-8 points off of Rotherham, I think we’d have seen the usual - let’s grind out some 0-0s, let’s not give anything away first - which is kinda what we did at Boro and Swansea where it worked really well. But continuing that would’ve lost him the opportunity to see other members of the squad, and meant a more blind summer. You can happily construe that as giving him the benefit of the doubt. In many respects I am....but purely from results. When I listen to him, I see a manager in complete control, not really worried about the result, albeit he’d like to get a home win. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a significant upgrade in manager calibre, but equally there are no guarantees either.
    5 points
  27. You can't polish a turd. Never has a team so desparately needed a clearing out at City as is needed this Summer. Holden wasn't the man for the job, Pearson rightly has people more patient due to his experience in this. It's the same coaching staff that had us failing before too
    5 points
  28. Nigel is clearly the best man.
    5 points
  29. The team have defenitly miss our away support as we always travel in numbers and are very vocal at away games Of course you do. Don’t worry you will be able to sing your shitty song at Harrogate Town in huge numbers next season.
    5 points
  30. Its the recruitment over the last 3 seasons that's the problem we have sold our best players and replaced them with bang average players The squad is totally unbalanced and needs addressing I'm sure given the time and money NP will get it right but its far to early to start slagging the guy off
    5 points
  31. Why don’t you look through his career, compare it to Johnson, Holden and the like and answer the question yourself?
    5 points
  32. Have people just generally just sat at home watching the BBC news over the past year, and let the constant rhetoric of fear and vaccination bullshit wash over them to a point of being brain washed? It seems so...it's like living in North Korea...feed the masses the same narrative and they eventually become apathetic and believe everything they are being told, if you keep repeating it. I find it fascinating that people will say in general that Governments lie, and that there is always an agenda behind their moves..yet in this instance so many have just fallen in line without ever questioning what's actually happening around the world. Quote from Boris yesterday when asked about the vaccine... "We don't think that they entirely reduce or remove the risk of transmission." Not just remove risk...but reduce risk. It's a complete farce...
    5 points
  33. Have you ever seen it live? It’s not my thing either, but I did go to watch it at Eastville a couple of times, and must admit it was quite exciting. Noise, smell speed etc. Feel the same about powerboat racing: not something I’d ever watch on TV, or go out of my way to, but in Bristol Docks it was something else.
    4 points
  34. I’m not so sure the recruitment has been so bad. If fit (!) we would have had Bentley, Baker, Kalas and Mawson, Sess and Dasilva as a back 5. That would be the envy of most other teams. We bought one of the leagues top strikers in Wells. It’s the players who knit it all together that we haven’t managed to sign/attract. I can’t say I have been particularly impressed with any of the opposition players we have faced so I’m not sure there is that sort of quality about. It’s generally a game of attrition and won by a set piece or mistake. Most Championship games are pretty dull. With that in mind, I think Pearson will be effective in recruiting some bigger(physically), rapid and more athletic characters but I doubt it will be pretty. He will need a dead ball specialist and someone who can bully defenders. We do not have the luxury of parachute payments and that is a massive difference when you have had zero matchday income for a year. If I’m honest I just want to see us fighting for every ball and getting the rub of the green because of it. If we lose some, so be it. If we have aspirations of going up then we need to match the spending from the parachute mob. It’s not rocket science.
    4 points
  35. Find it crazy that a whole organisation, worth 100's of millions all geared to supporting one person for success, and they appoint someone not ready, but persuasive... It's actually pretty laughable
    4 points
  36. Season over, 12 players out of contract, a large number injured, no manager confirmed for next season, hardly the basis for a good end to the season. Apart from a few who are playing for their future, the players have their heads somewhere else. Is NP the right person ? Who knows, but at least he has seen and performed at the right level , and has the right cv for creating a team, and a squad. We cannot do it all this summer , we are in such a mess with the majority of players signed this last few seasons, it will take time to sort it out, and avoiding relegation in between. Next season will most likely be a tough year of transition though some semblance of a team should start emerging. Will all be down to recruitment and keeping the few players we have that are up to the task at the club. I cannot think of many better than NP for the task, but that does not mean he will be a success. But I do feel we are raising our levels. That is needed as we are still a L1 club in far too many areas.
    4 points
  37. Some people seem to have a belief that a manager possesses some sort of ‘miraculous’ power to turn a crap team into a good one simply by virtue of their sheer presence. They would have us believe that those players who have demonstrated consistently that they are below the average championship standard should somehow be ‘magically’ transformed (overnight) into winners or contenders. This is a complete fantasy. The real problem we have had in recent years is essentially that our recent managers have been totally unable to find decent players (with a FEW exceptions), who might also fit into some kind of coherent system. NP’s value is not his ability to produce miracles and transform Bas Savage into Pele, it is his proven ability to identify decent players and incorporate them into something resembling a football team. Hopefully we will see this become more evident in the summer when the mass expiry of contracts will give him some freedom to build us that football team (finally) which we have been deprived of now for the last few years.
    4 points
  38. Klopp and Guardiola both had average first seasons. Managers need time. To see a thread like this after a month or whatever it’s been is insane.
    4 points
  39. It doesn’t have to equate to slagging him off. I will give him all the time and resources we can. And i had similar reservations when cotrerill was appointed and i was spectacularly proved wrong which i hope i am again. But saying i am not fully sold/convinced he is the greatest thing that could happen to our club is not slagging him off.
    4 points
  40. It will take Pearson at least a season to sort out the current mess and shape the team / squad to his way of playing. I don't expect us to be competing at the top end of the table but I do expect us to be competing in each game. The season after that I would expect a challenge for the top 6.
    4 points
  41. Because it's not a great barometer. It's not his squad, it's a small sample of games, we still have injuries. These aren't excuses - they are facts. He can only work with what he's got. If he'd had a full summer window obviously it would be different and judging him would be easier and fairer. Fans love to make snap judgements for some reason whilst ignoring the context.
    4 points
  42. His statement read; We go again
    4 points
  43. It was exciting and ultimately very disappointing. With the resources Wilson had we should have been promoted in all of the four campaigns he managed. That we managed to get to only one play off final in that time indicates the scale of his failure. Gary Johnson got us promoted after only 18 months of management with a squad which was half as talented as the squad Danny Wilson had at its disposal. Wilson’s failure was made even more abject by his refusal to deal with the drinking culture widely reported at the club at the time (for a graphic picture of that, read Christian Roberts’s autobiography). He may have come across as a nice guy, but ultimately he was a weak and unsuccessful manager. I am flabbergasted that anyone could have enjoyed his tenure more that our success under Gary Johnson or Steve Cotterill.
    4 points
  44. If rather be looking at his WLD say end of Jan / Feb 22, when he’s had best part of a year, cleared out some of the shit, and brought his own in. With relegation avoided, he can use the rest of the season to experiment for all I care. If that helps him realise that player x is his type of player and player y isn’t, that’s fine by me.
    4 points
  45. “Never seriously backed in the transfer market” I must have imagined that £600k he was given to sign Lee Peacock in 2000 then.. No one was spending anything like that sort of sum in the third division then. Wilson also spent £300k on the completely mediocre Lee Miller. Absolute bluffer who seemingly allowed his players to get pissed & fight in town on a regular basis. Thank goodness for GJ.
    4 points
  46. Talking of Sammy its a shame we got rid of Sammie Szmodics he's been banging them in for Peterborough (yes i know in Div1) 12 goals and 5 assists, another never given a chance here
    4 points
  47. No chance. I don't plan on getting the vaccine and it shouldn't be forced on people who don't want it
    4 points
  48. It's a valid point and one that would sway many a season ticket holder. If people were to renew season tickets, we would want to know whether if restrictions were put in place, whether you could get a refund. There would be many who wouldn't want to attend or couldn't attend if a passport was made necessary. A vaccine may make it a slightly less chance of catching it...but if you are fit and healthy with no underlying health issues you've got 99.5% chance of it not effecting you. Looking at a great many football supporters, I'd say many were elderly, many obese and overweight and many with underlying health issues...if they caught the flu it would probably knock em for six...would they still attend if they knew a bad flu virus was about? So a vaccine and passport really isn't going to help many. Let's face it...this vaccine and lockdown isn't about your health. Its about keeping the hospital's manageable. Of course people will be more likely to be catching things. We've spent a year not mixing, wearing masks, our immune systems will be weaker as we haven't been exposed to germs...and many have developed other problems from being locked in that will exacerbate the problems. Focussing on being healthy, losing weight, getting fit, improving your immune system, exercising, getting sun and exercise, will be a far better idea, than sitting on our backsides, eating shit, getting fat and relying on a vaccine to make things better. The fear and rhetoric that's been so easily thrown and accepted by the world is astonishing.
    4 points
  49. Thought that some people especially @Fordy62 would like to read the JET interview in the Athletic this week. Guessing a lot don’t subscribe so here you go Had the goal been scored with the right foot rather than the left, you’d have been forgiven for thinking the scorer had been Thierry Henry. With his back to goal, the forward flicked the ball up, turned on the spot and sent a thumping volley into the far top corner. “I was thinking of Henry’s goal against Manchester United when I scored it,” says Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. “More in the concept than anything. If I was to turn and shoot the ball across the floor, there’s a good chance the defender could make a block. If I flick it up, he can’t see the ball’s in the air because he’s directly behind me. If you watch it back, he goes to block a shot on the floor, but I get the volume and it all just comes together.” There are striking similarities in the technique. However, the opponents weren’t Manchester United, but Hamilton Academical — and Emmanuel-Thomas was playing not at a packed Highbury, but an eerily empty Alderstone Road, home of his current club Livingston. It was a goal fitting of the player — one that demonstrated audacious ability, from a talent that long seemed set for a grander stage. Emmanuel-Thomas is 30 now — an age when he is beginning to look back as much as forward. He was 18 when he captained Arsenalto a 6-2 aggregate win over Liverpoolin the FA Youth Cup final (main photo). In a team that included Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, Kyle Bartley and Henri Lansbury, it was the boy known simply as “JET” that wore the armband. At that age, he appeared destined for stardom. A year later, Arsene Wenger admitted Emmanuel-Thomas was on the verge of a first-team breakthrough. “Jay is knocking very hard on my door — with two hands,” the Arsenal manager said. “He has outstanding quality. He has the build you dream to have. It is down to how far he wants to go, because he has big potential. He works very hard to get his fitness right. When his fitness is right, Jay will be not only a good player, but a great player.” Few managers have demonstrated Wenger’s shrewd ability to gauge potential. His words have hung over Emmanuel-Thomas’s subsequent career, a prophecy unfulfilled. Emmanuel-Thomas trained with Wenger’s first team every day for the best part of two years. It granted him the opportunity to learn from the likes of Henry up close. “You never know how quick somebody is until you see them close up and personal,” he marvels. “I knew Thierry was quick, obviously — you see him playing in the Premier League, flying past defenders. But when you see him in training, when you see it close, and you see how fast he’s actually moving — if you’re on the same team and he’s attacking, and you’re racing to keep up but you just can’t — that’s when you realise how fast he actually is.” As a left-footed player, Emmanuel-Thomas was struck by the unique technique of Robin van Persie. “His left foot is very, very accurate,” he recalls. “How he strikes the ball, the whip he gets on it, it’s not common whatsoever. You don’t see that.” You don’t see many prospects like Emmanuel-Thomas, either. Over 6ft tall, fleet of foot and broad of shoulder, he seemed able to do it all. In the youth and reserve sides, he played every outfield position apart from right-back — and one legendary Arsenal defender had him earmarked for a role in defence. “At the time, there was still a back-and-forth regarding what position I was going to play, because Steve Bould always wanted me to play at centre-half,” says Emmanuel-Thomas. “His aim was to turn me into a centre-back — but I really didn’t want to play there. I went away with the first team for a game against Huddersfield, and I was thrown in at centre-half. It kept happening.” In the end, it was Wenger who stepped in, deciding the youngster’s future lay among the forwards. “He told me I’d have been wasted playing at centre-half with all the attributes of an attacker,” says Emmanuel-Thomas. Speaking in 2010, Wenger was in no doubt as to the player’s attacking potential: “One thing is for sure: he can score goals. That is a massive talent you cannot give to people — his right foot, left foot, he is unbelievable in front of goal. This guy is an unbelievable finisher, inside and outside of the box.” Of course, joining Wenger’s collection of forwards meant facing some serious competition for a first-team place. “It was a tough period because, at the time, the attacking players at Arsenal were immense,” he explains. “We still had Van Persie, Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott, Carlos Vela, Nicklas Bendtner… after those guys, I was the next choice behind. I’d already bypassed all the players from my year and the two years above me in the academy, but it was difficult to get game time. Emmanuel-Thomas had to compete with Carlos Vela for a place in Arsenal’s attack (Photo: Olly Greenwood/AFP via Getty Images) “You’re travelling all over the country and just sitting on a bench and not getting a look-in. You get 10 minutes here, you get 20 minutes there, then you don’t play for four or five games… Obviously, you realise that you’re not at any club — you’re at Arsenal, so it’s difficult to actually get in there as an attacker with such elite strikers at the football club. And then it came to a point where I had a decision to make if I was going to assign a new contract or if I was going to move on… and I made the decision to move on.” He joined Ipswich Town, then a Championship club, in the summer of 2011 and his gamble was rewarded by 42 league appearances in his first season. He was delighted to be playing regular football, but even then, there was that sense of what might have been. “During that season, I obviously always checked up on Arsenal scores and who had who played and whatnot. And they ended up having a lot of injuries that season in attacking areas. It was one of those things where if you stayed there, then players probably don’t get injured! And then, now you’ve left…” He hesitates. “It’s just one of those things. You can’t… I made a decision based on what I thought was right for my career at that time.” After two years with Ipswich, he moved to Bristol City, the club where he feels he played his best football, and where he was reunited with Arsenal academy talents including Luke Ayling, Kieran Agard and Luke Freeman. Following two seasons in Bristol he spent three years back in London at Queens Park Rangers, encompassing loan spells with MK Dons and Gillingham, before moving to PTT Rayong in Thailand. Emmanuel-Thomas relished the change in lifestyle, a clean slate, and the warmer weather. He also found the passing style of play more suited to his talents than some of what he’d encountered in England. The only drawback was the long trips to away games. “You don’t realise how big a country Thailand is until you have to sit on a coach for 12 hours to get to your next game!” His paradise was not to last. Rayong began to suffer financial problems and so began a difficult wilderness period in his career. “Things started to happen that were making me iffy,” he explains. “Local players were asking if they could borrow money, not small sums — five, six, seven grand. I think they knew the club was folding.” The season was still ongoing, and Emmanuel-Thomas still had time remaining on his contract, but the club were prepared to offer him a settlement. “So I left, sorted out a contract termination, and came home. Literally, about three months later, the club folded. There were about 27 players left without a deal.” Emmanuel-Thomas returned to the UK in July 2019 but was due to return to the Far East to sign for a Chinese club in early 2020. “I was actually going back to Asia, February 12, 2020. And COVID broke out on January 25 in China. So they had sorted out all my flights, and got I got a phone call from them saying, ‘We’re gonna push your flight back two weeks due to the outbreak of a little virus’. This was the beginning, before we even heard about it really in the UK. I was thinking, ‘Cancelling a flight for “a little virus”? It can’t be that little, surely!’ And then week by week, it got bigger and bigger to the point where I then woke up to an email from Emirates saying my flights had been cancelled. One year on, we’re still here.” The cancelled move meant Emmanuel-Thomas spent 15 months out of the game, following his own fitness programme to try to stay in shape. “You can’t let it play on your mind heavily, you have to try and stay as focused and strong as you possibly can,” he says. “I always believe in my ability and I knew that if I could get into somewhere on trial, I would be able to show enough, even if I haven’t trained.” The chance eventually came last September, in the Scottish Premiership with Livingston. Within a few days of training, manager David Martindale offered him a deal. Martindale describes Emmanuel-Thomas’ talent as “frightening”. “In sheer technical ability, I think we could have one of the best players in the league,” he says. It has been a positive first season. Livingston contested the Scottish League Cup final, and have secured a top-six place. Having steadily built his fitness levels, Emmanuel-Thomas has appeared in 19 league games. He wears the No 9 shirt. Although he still sees himself as an attacking midfielder, ideally from the right-hand side, he has been asked to lead the line in Scotland. The versatility of his youth has, it seems, paid dividends. “It gave me an idea of what it’s like being in the opposite position,” he explains. “If I’m now facing up against a defender, I know what’s running through his mind.” Emmanuel-Thomas is eligible to play international football for both St Lucia and Dominica, but has grown weary of their fleeting interest. For now, he is focused on resurrecting his club career in Britain. Livingston have an option for a second year. He is happy in the town, almost equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and would be content to stay. Livingston are a good club, surpassing expectations — but might there have been more? “If I look back, there have maybe been times in my career I could have managed things differently,” he admits. “You think, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have done that’, or, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have gone there knowing that I had a game’, or, ‘Maybe I should have bought into that manager’s philosophy a bit more than I did. Just because I didn’t agree with how he wanted to play doesn’t mean that I was right, and he was wrong’. As you get older, things start to change. You see it happening to others and you think, ‘That was once me’.” It is now just shy of a decade since Emmanuel-Thomas left Arsenal. At times, he has seemed a talent that fell through football’s cracks — too good for Arsenal’s reserves, yet not quite good enough for their first team. Too skilful to be a centre-half, too burly to be a winger. He is a player that managers haven’t always known what to do with — a gifted individual that hasn’t always fitted easily into a team. “Obviously, you always think what could you have done, what could have been if I did x, y or z,” he says. “But you pass that stage. If you keep thinking about it, it ain’t going to do you no good.” Maybe not. But watch a goal like that stupendous strike against Hamilton, and it’s difficult not to wonder
    3 points
  50. Steve Cotterill created an incredible team spirit with a fairly small group of players. He should have been backed in the summer following promotion to The Champ and he made a huge statement when he only named 6 subs at Sheff Weds on the first game of the season. I grew up in in Cheltenham and what he achieved at Whaddon Road was nothing short of a miracle. Believe me, Steve Cotterill has a big presence in the dressing room and all of that L1 promotion winning team speak highly of him. Team spirit and togetherness goes a long way towards success and SC created a fantastic culture that we should have built on. I think Big Nige is a similar type of character to SC and i really hope he is backed in the summer otherwise we could be having similar conversations in 12 months time.
    3 points
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