"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Inside Line: Carlisle United (26/10/2013)

It’s Hallowe’en fancy dress at Brunton Park on Saturday as City make their longest trip of the season on the back of yet another defeat.  There was another Ashton Gate horror result on Tuesday night as for the first time the vocal minority of fans calling for Sean O’Driscoll to be relieved of his duties became a more significant number.  Two online ‘Sack Him or Back Him’ polls were split almost exactly 50/50 which, when you consider the recent record, actually bears a remarkable testament of faith by the half who remain in support, but the shadows of the Grim Reaper hang long over the BS3 area and if City are on the end of another fright night in Cumbria on Saturday, it could well sadly bode the end of this philosophical, thoughtful and well-intentioned coaches reign.

Seven months and 17 days have passed since three points were last witnessed by anyone, so it would be somewhat ironic and perhaps apt if what will inevitably be one of our smallest – but most dedicated – away followings of the season witness the ending of that abysmal record.


One of the my favourite, more outspoken but eloquent fans-of-other-clubs-I-follow-on-Twitter is Carlisle supporter John McGee, who also writes occasionally for top football league bloggers The Two Unfortunates.

Carlisle had a difficult start to the season, which culminated in Greg Abbott’s sacking last month.  Abbott was the third-longest serving manager in English football (which in itself tells a story as he was there less than five years!).  Was it a bit harsh to dispense of his services so early (after six games) in your view?
Ultimately, I think not. My own personal stance on Greg was always very favourable and I still think there’s an argument that he was a victim of his own success. His tenure has been amongst the most stable in the history of the club and he genuinely did take us forward. 

But it started to become apparent during last season that he was running out of ideas – he lacked the wit to change games and was constantly looking for easy blame horses; money, the fans, injuries. He also made some odd moves over the summer too – we were defensively inept for much of last season, and he signed a bunch of forwards.  That was rewarded by us conceding 5, 4 and 4 in our first three games. 

When your erstwhile gaffer cum city rival John Ward was at his most embattled point as our manager he famously told local radio that he ‘just (didn’t) know what to do any more’ Abbott never said that, but it certainly came across that he felt it.  For most fans his sacking felt more like putting a much loved pet out of its misery, rather than the ‘public drowning in a well’ it often is in this game.

There’s a constituency of fans who never liked him, and who feel his sacking was vindication of the fact they were always right about him.  It must have been tortuous for them, waiting 5 years to get their moment in the sun.

How have overall performances been and have they picked up since Graham Kavanagh was appointed? That was an impressive victory at MK Dons on Tuesday?
The facts suggest that Kavanagh’s impact has been huge – 2 points from 18 under Abbott, 13 from 18 under Kav.  We’ve also only conceded more than once in a single one of those games, so whatever he’s doing is clearly working.  I’m yet to see the newly minted ‘Kav United’ in the flesh but they seem to have been marked by greater discipline and much more emphasis on ‘playing the side in front of us’ than under any manager since Paul Simpson.  What’s been especially pleasing has been his ability to read the game and change our approach during it – that won’t surprise anyone who saw him play, but it’s particularly impressive for such a greenhorn manager operating at our level and with a small, limited squad.

MK Dons was a good case in point. Lee Miller’s been injured and we’ve been using our Scotland under 21 beanpole Mark Beck as a replacement with mixed results. Knowing MK like to pass from the back Kavanagh replaced Beck with the feisty, industrious Lewis Guy in a pacy front three. The upshot was that we wore them out and, despite poor possession stats, out-foxed them on the break. I don’t think Karl Robinson will be the last gaffer who Kav out-thinks this season.

What are the first impressions of Kavanagh, aside from getting himself sent off last weekend?
Very good.  I was initially wary of the appointment, feeling that Kavanagh always seemed happy to see Abbott as the fall guy in public and shirked responsibility.  It was less a ‘clean broom’ sentiment than ‘and take your bad egg with you’. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

His regime has been marked by changes in everything – I talked a little about his tactical rigour, but even tiny things like the pre-match warm ups have seen a new approach, he seems to be doing much more to bond the team in a social sense and he’s also much more visible.

His sending off illustrates part of that – he and no. 2 Davie Irons seem to be a fourth official’s worst nightmare, but fans like that, they want to see passion and engagement from their manager.  He’s also typically Irish in terms of media engagement – a loquacious rent-a-quote – and that too makes a nice change from Abbott.  Although I loved Abbott’s passion for the club, his interviews could be truculent and testy, even in the good times. Kavanagh seems much more willing and able to talk up the club, the players and the fans and to bring a degree of humility to his approach which has endeared him to many.

One final point is his personal cache – he’s a recent Premier League player of some repute and that opens doors.  Could Abbott pick up the phone to Gianfranco Zola to ask advice on a potential new signing?  Would he field a call from a World Cup runner-up ex-teammate desperate for a club? No to both.

What are the ambitions for the season? Are they limited to mid-table relaxation or are covetous eyes being placed on the play-off spots now?
I personally think we have a ‘top half capable’ squad, though I am on the optimistic side when it comes to our fanbase.  When I look at our bench now I no longer think ‘who the fuck is going to come on and change a game?’ and when I see an attacker heading to our box I don’t think ‘this time…’, I just don’t worry.  It’s been a while – I never even felt that two years ago when we finished 8th – and it’s a pretty swift transformation from that opening trio of games.

I’d be really pleased with a solid mid-table finish, I think it’d give us a good platform for next year and I get the impression that anything more would be ahead of schedule for Kavanagh too.  But who knows? Last year’s play-off winners got a huge run of injury luck and were driven over the line by a striker who couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a spade in Carlisle! It’s a funny old game, Saint.

Where do you start? Absurdly, his trial, and subsequent signing, split opinion. Admittedly, he’s been out of the game for a while, but he has a World Cup runnersup medal and a few years ago was named in the Premier League team of the year. Surely it’s one of those where you place aside prejudices based on, what, a couple of games on Sky and just think ‘wow, how on Earth have we gotten hold of him?’ 

Sadly, it’s something of an affliction amongst some of our fans. When Ian Harte played for us – Champions League semi-finalist and 74 cap Irish international Ian Harte – a small number thought he was crap. He scored 19 goals from centre half. Funny definition of crap.

I’m not worried about Chimbonda’s time at Market Drayton, his aborted move to Chicago Fire or his supposed mercenary past, I’m genuinely elated to have him at my club – anyone who thinks otherwise needs a serious word with themselves.
As for his performances to date, I got the following text from a mate after the MK game – ‘Our man Pascal – not fit yet, still adapting to the team, but absolutely pissing it already. Frightening.’

We once spent £300,000 on Lee Miller who is now your number 9 – how has he been for you and has he found his level in League One do you feel after spells in the Scottish Premier League and the second tier of English football??
Well firstly I’d suggest there isn’t much between the SPL and League One nowadays – with the obvious exception of Celtic.  As for Miller ‘finding his level’, I’d say perhaps.  What I do think is that he’s ‘found his club’ in Carlisle; he had opportunities to go back to a couple of the SPL’s bigger clubs, or to move to the Championship this summer, and he turned them down. He’s gone through a lot of personal trauma in his time at Brunton Park and I think has formed a real bond with the city and our fans – his three young lads are treated like celebrities in Cumbria, and I think they had a big role in him staying put!

As for his general contribution, it can’t be underestimated. Quite simply, he’s the best pure centre forward we’ve had in my time following the club.  Another of your ex-players, Michael Bridges, is the only player to better his personal impact on the team.  Under Abbott, Miller was the be all and end all of our playing style – he was our best defender, our best assister and our best goalscorer.  When he was injured we were, in short, crap.  He missed a few games at the start of this year and we were dreadful then too – his presence gives the team a real boon. He’s only just coming back to fitness, but may be available to start on Saturday.  We’ve actually been okay without him this time, but we’re unquestionably better with him.

Who are the current star performers for the Cumbrians?
As I’ve indicated, the Kavanagh era seems to have been defined so far by collective effort, rather than individual vim, but it’s worth name checking a couple of players.  Our young goalie Mark Gillespie is inexplicably still uncapped by England under 21s, who prefer Watford reserve Jonathan Bond over a lad who’s played 50 consecutive League One games.  In that time he’s started to look like something special.  Tim Krul played for us on loan at a similar stage of his career and I don’t think Mark’s far off being as good as he was back then. He’s already unquestionably our best academy graduate since the late 90s crop of Matt Jansen, Lee Peacock, Rory Delap and Scott Dobie. He still makes the odd mistake, but has started to recover in the style that all the best ‘keepers do.  Following our win over Notts last month Stu Brothers, who edits the ‘Black & White’ fanzine, and his mates suggested that they had collectively never seen a better goalkeeping performance by an opponent than Gillespie’s that day. I’ll take that.

The other standout has been David Amoo.  He’s an ex-Liverpool lad who has pace to burn but it looked like his career was drifting after he was released not once, but twice last season. Fans of both Preston and Tranmere couldn’t disguise their glee when we gave him a two year deal.  We couldn’t hide our dismay. Fifteen appearances, seven goals and minute after minute of terrorising wing play later and we’re all eating our words in open mouthed, gobsmacked fashion.

We haven’t won a league match since March 9th, 21 games which is a club record. We also can’t keep a clean sheet. Have we got any chance of ending either of those runs on Saturday at Brunton Park? What’s your match prediction?
Yes to both – we’ve got a bit of form for helping sides overcome hoodoos, so I’m sure we’ll do our best to oblige.  We’ve tightened up defensively, and we’re a decent counter-attacking threat, so the stat sheets might not give you a chance, but that doesn’t factor in the fickle nature of our football club.  We don’t really do front running, or being the favourite very well.

As for specifics, I have only one superstition in football and it’s that I don’t really share any hunches or predictions for fear of looking daft.  For someone so prone to spouting off and making a total arse of myself in print, that paradox often amuses people.


Many thanks to John for his superb answers, certainly one of the more interesting and informative sets of answers we'll see this season!

Not much left to say really, other than please, please, please come on City. I can't take much more of this.




The Exiled Robin

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Inside Line: Brentford (22/10/2013)

With every passing day City's season gets closer and closer to crisis point. Yes, there are still thirty-plus games remaining, more than enough to climb the league and get comfortable - at least - and if you tracked 'form' I believe we'd still be on an upward trending curve.  But another game without a win, or a point even, at Gresty Road on Saturday means City are now rock-bottom, their lowest position in 30 years.

Tuesday night sees City welcome one of the pre-season favourites, Brentford, to Ashton Gate for the first in a short series of fixtures that look like they'll prove pivotal to the future of the season, if not the club.

So what can we expect from our opponents?

Until he recently joined Twitter, I'm sure many weren't aware that Bristol Post's City correspondent Andy Stockhausen was actually a Bees fan. It came to light for me with a response to an accusation about having an affinity to the Blue Few in the north of the city! Although now very much based in Bristol, Andy takes every opportunity to watch his boyhood club and was as devastated as anyone with last season's promotion heartbreak.

Lewis Hancock caught up with Andy between match preparation and fired some questions about Uwe Rosler's side at him.


Many tipped Brentford to be there or thereabouts again following last season’s third-place finish. Is that an accurate assumption or misguided view?
Given that Brentford managed to hold onto most of their best players and Uwe Rosler was given money to strengthen his squad in the summer, a majority of Bees fans felt automatic promotion was a realistic prospect in 2013/14. But expectations have since been tempered by a gradual realisation that League One is altogether stronger than last year. Doncaster and Bournemouth have been replaced by Wolves and Peterborough, promoted sides Bradford City, Port Vale, Rotherham and Gillingham are better-equipped than the ones they changed places with and a number of other teams, notably Leyton Orient and MK Dons, are coming out of transition and showing that they are ready to challenge at the top end of the table. 

Brentford’s much-vaunted home form of 2012/13 has dropped off as visiting sides have sussed them out and points conceded against the likes of Rotherham and Carlisle United at Griffin Park this season suggest a play-off place might well be the best the Bees can hope for.

How does Uwe Rosler set up his side to play?
He more often than not adheres to a traditional English 4-4-2 system, but has sufficient versatility within toe squad to be able to switch. He is likely to deploy more of a 4-5-1 formation at Ashton Gate, which easily becomes 4-3-3 when Brentford are attacking. 

As you would expect from a German manager, Rosler preaches hard work and discipline and the Bees are certainly well-organised out of possession. They get men back in behind the ball quickly and everyone knows his job. They prefer to sit deep away from home and rely upon swiftly-launched counter-attacks, an approach which suits a number of players blessed with genuine pace. They find it rather more difficult against teams that come to Griffin Park intent upon parking the proverbial team bus.

Who stands out as a potential match-winner in the Brentford side?
He may have come in for some stick from frustrated supporters this season owing to missing a number of clear-cut chances in front of goal, but Clayton Donaldson has been Brentford’s top-scorer for the past two seasons and will more than likely be so again this term. Blessed with pace and good feet and an ability to go past defenders, the experienced front-man remains the most likely source of goals. He can play down the middle, but is probably most dangerous when operating out wide and cutting in.

Will Grigg has got the backing of Rosler after receiving a fair bit of criticism for his goal tally so far this season (two goals in eight games). Do you think it’s only a matter of time before he adapts to Brentford’s style and finds his form from last season?
I think it’s more a case of him not being properly match fit rather than struggling to adapt to a different style. Whereas he was the attacking fulcrum at Walsall and the team was set up to accommodate him to a degree, he is required to work back off the ball now he is at Brentford. But his chief problem has been the injury that sidelined him for three weeks after he had made a promising start. He is still not as sharp as he could be and will require a run of games before he is back to his best. There is no doubting his pedigree, though, and I, for one, expect him to come good in time.

Are Brentford fans still haunted by that infamous Marcello Trotta penalty miss? Has it affected the youngster’s confidence on the pitch?
I fear Bees fans will always be haunted by that moment. Promotion was one kick away and we blew it. As for Trotta, he is a naturally confident lad and, no matter what individuals might think privately, the management and staff have closed ranks and been supportive of him. However, he is usually the first one to be targeted by irate supporters when things are not going well and he will have to learn to come to terms with this until he is forgiven.

Having watched every City game this season, who could cause Brentford problems?
I think it is fair to say Sam Baldock and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas will most defences problems in League One. But the guy I reckon will cause them an even bigger headache is Marlon Pack if he is allowed to pass the ball and set the tempo from a deep position. Brentford’s best chance is to detail a man to sit on Pack and, thereby, cut the supply lines to Emmanuel-Thomas and Baldock.

Finally, can I have a prediction for the match?

This is not me sitting on the fence or being diplomatic – I really do feel this one will end in a score draw. I’m going for 1-1.




The Exiled Robin

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Inside Line: Crewe Alexandra (19/10/2013)


 Another unfortunately-timed break in the footballing schedule has seen City fall to 23rd in League One going into Saturday’s match at Crewe Alexandra.

With City’s match against Crawley postponed due to international call-ups, it was a chance for sides around us to create a small gap at the bottom; a feat Crewe managed with a 2-0 win versus Preston at Deepdale.

The win leaves the Alex three points above City in the table, but an away win (in what would be City’s first win at the Alexandra Stadium since the 2006/07 promotion season) would see us leapfrog the Railwaymen due to their extremely poor goal difference.  However, a familiar face in Bristolian pantomime-villain Steve Phillips could stand in our way...


Nathaniel Holland, @natholland1 Sports Journalism student at Southampton Solent, has kindly answered our questions.


City old boy Steve ‘Flapper’ Phillips finds himself between the sticks at the Alexandra Stadium. How has he performed since permanently signing from Bristol Rovers in 2010?
Phillips has been inspirational since his arrival. At the time Crewe had no solid number one and he grabbed the position with both gloves and made it his own. Healthy competition between Phillips, former Scotland under 21 Alan Martin and current England youth keeper Ben Garratt is a really positive sign for a club of our size.


Goals have been hard to come by for you thus far, is it a matter of strikers not taking their chances or a lack of service?
This season has been a strange one; we have the biggest squad we’ve had for a long time, and a squad full of players capable of making the starting eleven.  However, we lost Luke Murphy to Leeds in the summer and we haven’t replaced that quality in midfield.

Max Clayton has been below par this season, Mathias Pogba has been injured since Easter which is a major loss for us and our new striker Vadaine Oliver is still finding his feet.


Crewe have shipped the most goals in so far (conceding 25, with a goal difference of minus 15). Is there anyway manager Steve Davis can utilise his current crop to become tighter at the back or should he be looking at the loan market to shore up the defence?
I don’t think we need to dip into the loan market because our squad is already big enough, but our back four have had some problems.

Welsh youth international George Ray was thrown into the first team and in my opinion isn’t ready. He needs to bide his time to compete with the likes of Dugdale, Davis and Mark Ellis.
Our players just need to step up, take responsibility and improve to pull the Alex away from the bottom four.


How does Davis set up his side to play?
We try to work with a solid back four (which hasn’t occurred so far!) and work from the back; we have two central midfielders to break up play, whilst the front two and wingers add the flair and quality in the final third.

Pace is a big factor in the way we play and if there are gaps in the final third, Clayton, Moore and Ajay Leitch-Smith will look to exploit the space with their pace.


Are his tactics the reason for Crewe’s bad run of form (before last Saturday’s win against Preston, Crewe hadn’t won in their past seven league games)?
I personally cannot fault Davis.  Maybe some decisions on team selection are questionable but the off the field issues from the pre-season trip to Cornwall is lingering over some of the squad.


Crewe are renowned for having a fantastic youth set-up with players such as Dean Ashton, David Vaughan, Nick Powell, Robbie Savage et al. Who is likely to be the next fledging talent to go onto bigger and better things?
There is an incredibly long list of players who have come from our academy set up.
Currently we have Ryan Colclough emerging, a player who has managed to bag a few goals this season at only 18 years old; he is a local lad but has lost his place in recent weeks as Davis looks for that winning formula.

Max Clayton is also an exciting prospect. However, he has seen former teammates Luke Murphy, Ash Westwood and Nick Powell join Leeds, Aston Villa and Man United respectively and maybe thinks he deserves a move. As it stands, he is not showing why he deserves the move but I am still hopeful that he is destined for greatness.


Anyone else City fans should watch out for on Saturday?
Byron Moore has recently returned from injury and scored last week at Preston so hopefully he can be a problem for the City back line this week.


Finally, can I have a prediction for the match please?
Well before last week and even with City's poor start I would have said a win for yourselves, but following the win at Preston last week I think we may just grab it at 2-1 with Moore and Clayton on the score sheet.


Many thanks to Lewis and Nathaniel for their time.  It’s been a fortnight of bridge building and communicating to an increasingly nervous fanbase at Ashton Gate.  Now it’s the turn of the players to put in another Port Valerather than a Wycombe performance and get that first victory in seven months.


The Exiled Robin

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

EXCLUSIVE - The Sean O'Driscoll Interview on The Cider Diaries (Final Part)

Two down, one to go of 'The Cider Diaries' EXCLUSIVE interview with Bristol City Head Coach Sean O'Driscoll. 

The downloads have absolutely smashed our previous record, and we continue to receive great feedback via Twitter and the forums. It seems like this has caught the imagination of many fans!

In this final episode Sean explains his biggest regret since joining the club and talks about the fan's support and criticism, saying of those who are nervous and want results "I definitely understand, of course I do", whilst admitting he feels like he's a lone voice talking about the club's change of approach and said "it's not nice" when he's receiving criticism.


He also responds to criticism about not being passionate enough and confirms he's after another defender in the January transfer window, albeit on a budget that "isn't a lot".

We discuss whether the likes of Liam Fontaine and Neil Kilkenny may have played their last game for the club, Louis Carey's illness and why he gave him another one year contract and much much more.

We also have a fan's question section where he answers non-football questions about his spare time, Superheroes, Chocolate and even tells us a joke!  But the most revealing part of the interview has to be that he's just like millions of others - and plays Candy Crush!

The bit that really caught me though, of the whole interview, comes with two quotes on what we're doing as a club, and why the future feels safe in his hands, regardless of recent results on the pitch.  "I'm trying to look after the football club, not protect my job", is followed later by a suggestion that the club will look back on this season and say "We're glad we stuck with it".  Whether some like it or not, we are in transition and that takes longer than a couple of months.  Even he admits that if we keep this squad together and can add suitable players in the summer, we should be looking at targeting promotion next time around.  This year isn't about that.  It isn't about changing direction mid-season yet again. So let's get behind him and the team and climb this table.


The Sean O'Driscoll Interview: Final Part
Listen & download here: 

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11600/123266-the-cider-diaries-exclusive-the-sean-o-driscoll-interview-part-3-mp3


Or better still, subscribe via iTunes here to make sure you don't miss out on any of it!



LISTEN TO PART 1 HERE: 


LISTEN TO PART 2 HERE: 




LIKE US: www.facebook.com/TheCiderDiaries
FOLLOW US: www.twitter.com/TheCiderDiaries


Enjoy - all feedback very, very welcome again!


PARENTAL GUIDANCE: There are instances of bad language in this recording



The Exiled Robin

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

EXCLUSIVE - The Sean O'Driscoll interview on The Cider Diaries (Pt 2)

I hope you enjoyed the first 45 minutes of 'The Cider Diaries' EXCLUSIVE interview with Bristol City Head Coach Sean O'Driscoll, aired last night? It was certainly popular, with downloads incredibly outperforming all other editions inside just three hours, and we had some great feedback via Twitter and the forums.

In this second episode Sean relaxes even more and talks more about the disastrous performance at Wycombe as well as Joe Morrell's debut and what could lie ahead for this "exciting" talent who is "a cocky bugger". He also gives a warning story about Joe Cole which goes some way to explain why he's always honest with players and discusses why he shows the team footage from Bayern Munich's best performances.

EPPP and the Academy get a good airing and Sean raises the question about what will happen if someone comes in with a bid for the likes of Joe or Bobby Reid, especially after the latter's performance at Premier League Southampton.  

We ask him to explain the word 'Transition' which he admits "I've spouted it a lot", playing three up-front, Frankie Fielding and he also gives an insight into what he spends his Saturday night doing...


PARENTAL GUIDANCE: There are instances of bad language in this recording


The Sean O'Driscoll Interview: Part 2
Listen & download here: 
http://www.buzzsprout.com/11600/122420-exclusive-the-sean-o-driscoll-interview-part-2

Or better still, subscribe via iTunes here to make sure you don't miss out on the second and third parts!


LISTEN TO PART 1 HERE: http://exiledrobin.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/exclusive-sean-odriscoll-interview-on.html


www.facebook.com/TheCiderDiaries

www.twitter.com/TheCiderDiaries

Enjoy - all feedback very, very welcome again!

The Exiled Robin

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http://exiledrobin.blogspot.com


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Monday, 14 October 2013

EXCLUSIVE - The Sean O'Driscoll interview on The Cider Diaries (Pt 1)

When you've only recorded seven shows of your new podcast and the gaffer gets in touch to say he'd like to come on, it leads to a fairly warm feeling inside, I guess we're doing something fairly alright, then?

So it came to be that last Thursday five of us turned up at Ashton Gate for an interview with the man himself. We had no idea what to expect in all honesty, eight pages of questions were prepared in case the answers were short and we were left scratching our heads after 20 minutes.  Having read this excellent Goalfood interview where he starts off by threatening them if they asked stupid questions, I was particularly nervous to check my questions halfway into the room and make sure they still hadn't turned into gobbledy-gook.

We needn't have worried.

We didn't speak to a man sometimes portrayed as unfriendly, curt and lacking in willingness to talk to anyone. We spoke to a man who is clearly passionate about football and when he talks about a game being about more than just results, we got an insight into why he thinks as such.  It isn't just spin because results have been poor, it's because he genuinely sees his role at Ashton Gate to be one of developing young players, building a strong core that can take City into the next decade, building a system and a club that can stand on it's own two feet for years to come, and building a culture that means when someone talks about Bristol City, they'll say "ah yes, they're the club that ......." - and the finale to that statement won't be "changes their manager each season" or "always underachieves".

He was so passionate about what he talked about, in fact, and gave such detailed answers, that we got chased out be the night watchman at nearly 11pm, closing in on three hours after we started. This was clearly a setting in which O'Driscoll felt comfortable, and his extensive answers came easily and with little prompting.

Anyway, to save you all sitting there for two hours in one go we've broken it up into three, all less time in length than a half of football (and this is all free!).

In this first episode Sean talks about how he feels we're progressing this season, managerial job security(!), dealing with the press, his 12-month rolling contract, the squad he inherited, the message he gave Liam Fontaine before putting him on as substitute and the job he's trying to do at the club - as well as discussing how he was so keen to get the pitch right he has cut the grass in a previous job!  He talks about how he underestimated the strength of support there is for the club and what we've been through in the last few seasons.

"If I was running a football club, this would be how I'd run it" and "You don't come into this job for security" are two other notable quotes I've picked out, but there's loads to listen to so here it is.

The Sean O'Driscoll Interview: Part 1
Listen & download here: http://www.buzzsprout.com/11600/121486-the-cider-diaries-exclusive-the-sean-o-driscoll-interview-part-1-mp3

Or better still, subscribe via iTunes here to make sure you don't miss out on the second and third parts!

www.facebook.com/TheCiderDiaries

www.twitter.com/TheCiderDiaries

Enjoy - all feedback very very welcome!



The Exiled Robin

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Monday, 7 October 2013

The Inside Line: Wycombe Wanderers (08/10/2013)


For the last Inside Line before England’s World Cup fate is decided, Lewis Hancock speaks to Andy Carswell – Wycombe Wanderers reporter for Bucks Free Press.


After the excitement and pandemonium caused by the first round Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win against the Gas, City travel to Adams Park in the second round to take on Wycombe Wanderers, in what is likely to be a more tame and lower-profile affair.

The last time the two sides met in the competition was back in 2002, an occasion where City ran out 3-0 winners at Ashton Gate and went on to lift what was then the LDV Vans Trophy at the Millennium Stadium.


As Wycombe is now a fan-owned club (as of June 2012), is there a happier and more relaxed feel around the club than there has been in recent years?
There's certainly more of a sense of pride amongst Wycombe fans now that the Supporters' Trust is in control. The board are now a lot more prudent and while there's perhaps a slight sense of frustration the club won't push the boat out with regards to signings, I think fans are sensible enough to realise Wycombe need to steady the ship right now.

The club was in danger of going into administration just before the Trust takeover but those days look to be behind the club.

In last season’s competition, Wycombe were given the southern section’s Team of the Round award after notching a 3-1 away win over Portsmouth in the second round.  Is there an air of optimism that Gareth Ainsworth’s side can produce a similar outcome against City?
Ainsworth is on record as saying he wants a good run in the JPT this year. He played a strong side against Exeter in round one and they won more convincingly than the final 2-0 scoreline would suggest.

Last season Portsmouth were the biggest side Wycombe could have drawn in round two, and Ainsworth has said City are the biggest club left in the south west section. He'll see this as a good test for his players and he'll be going for a win on Tuesday night.

The Chairboys have started the season well (currently 10th in League Two after nine games); how has Ainsworth set up his team thus far?
The team matches Ainsworth's own style as a player - 100 per cent commitment, flying into tackles and pressing all over the pitch. Strangely, it's brought better results away from home than it has done at Adams Park - prior to last week's defeat at Rochdale, Wycombe had won three on the bounce away.

Who should City fans watch out for on Tuesday?
Goalkeeper Matt Ingram. This is his first season as first choice stopper, having been on loan at Oxford City last year, but despite only being 19 years old the local lad looks an excellent prospect. He reads the game superbly, has great reflexes and has been tipped to go all the way to the top.

Finally, can I have a prediction for the match?
I fancy this to go all the way to penalties - Wycombe's first choice strike partnership Dean Morgan and Steven Craig are unlikely to feature so goals may be harder to come by. I think it'll finish 1-1.



Thanks to Lewis and Andy, let’s hope we get to see plenty of goalkeeper Ingram and can progress to the later stages of a competition we’ve had a fair amount of success in over the years.

COYR!


The Exiled Robin

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Inside Line: Port Vale (05/10/2013)

Another Saturday and another chance for Bristol City to earn that first win – and perhaps even first clean sheet – of  the league season.  We return to Vale Park for the first time in a number of years, having spent more of recent times looking upwards at Vale’s city neighbours Stoke (I still despise Liam Lawrence for that dive!) than worrying about how Vale are getting on.

Thankfully Stu Radnedge managed to find time ahead of his three-week honeymoon Down Under (congratulations Stu!) to seek out the view of Port Vale Media Manager Dave Johnson, and get the 'inside line' on Saturday’s opponents.

Over to Stu…

Thanks for answering these Dave.  Port Vale were one of the sides who earned promotion from League Two last season. How has a return to the third tier of English football gone for the Vale?
We could see the difference between the two leagues right from day one of the new season. We are still finding our feet, but I think we are adapting well and are starting to improve, however, there is a long way to go yet.

What was it that worked for you last season? And has much changed from last year to this season's squad?
We attacked teams right from the start of the season and it paid dividends as teams didn’t know how to approach games – did they sit back and defend or did they go for it themselves and leave bigger gaps at the back? This season we have had to bring in new players to be able to cope with the step up, but they are starting to gel together.

How do you think your season has gone so far?
I think it has gone as well as to be expected. We were desperately unlucky not to get something at Leyton Orient the other week when even Russell Slade thought we deserved at least a point. We followed that up with a terrific second half performance against a Coventry side who I am sure will surprise a few people this season, despite having ten points docked.

Micky Adams took over after the end of the 2008/09 season.  After guiding you to promotion, what's the view on the boss, is he close to gaining legendary status?
He is fast becoming a legend, that’'s for sure, but he has not quite achieved that as yet. A lot of fans remember the John Rudge days and so Micky has a lot to live up to, on saying that he is certainly moving in the right direction!

Adams, however, is currently away from the club having a hip replacement. Do you think his absence will be felt by the fans and players, or are you confident in the set-up at the club and it being able to continue the form you've shown this year?
That'’s a difficult one, but Micky has put his faith in Rob Page and Mark Grew and is he is happy with that, then I am too. Rob has a lot of new ideas, whilst Mark has bags of experience and their styles could well work well together, but they have already said they are not going to change anything, so with Micky on the other end of the phone if they need him, I think it will be a case of ‘as you were’.

As I'm sure you're aware, there was a lot of female interest in Doncaster Rovers during the summer following the signing of a One Direction member.  Robbie Williams famously supports Port Vale, did you see any positive effect on support when he was at his peak?
There was an initial flurry of interest from the girls, and after Robbie wore a Vale shirt at one of his concerts online sales increased by a large amount. It has died down a bit now, but I am sure if he announced he was coming to our next home game, the attendance would reflect it!

Former City player Jennison Myrie-Williams is with you now. How's he getting on at Vale Park?
He has been quite impressive. He is great to watch with a quick turn of pace and dazzling foot work. Like a lot of skilful wingers, he needs to learn when to cross and when to take it on at times, but he is really good on the eye when he has the ball.




Aside from Myrie-Williams, which players do you think City fans should be expecting to cause us issues on Saturday and which player do you think Port Vale are going to struggle to contain?
Vale skipper Doug Loft will cover every blade of grass and he is likely to be very influential, and Tom Pope could pop up with a goal at any time. Regarding your players, I have to be honest, with not facing you for some time I know very little about them, but every player in a red shirt will be shown the upmost respect.



Finally, can I get a prediction of the scoreline please?

You wouldn’'t expect anything other from me than a call for a home win would you? I honestly believe it will be a close call and any of the two sides are capable of the win, but I am going for 2-1 to the Vale.


Thanks to Stu and Dave for their time, let’s hope, finally, three points will be travelling back on the coach with Sean O’Driscoll.

COYR!



The Exiled Robin

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