21 August 2020 14:59

Bristol City F.C. Birmingham City F.C. Lee Johnson

Hello and welcome to pre-season. Bristol City played a warm-up game behind closed doors last weekend against Newport County but then they're all behind closed doors currently. Today sees the Robins officially begin their pre-season as they take on Cheltenham Town at noon. Our City reporter Gregor MacGregor will be down at Ashton Gate covering the game and speaking to Dean Holden about how the match has gone, the first two weeks at Failand, the signing of Joe Williams and much more. Could we see Williams involved today?

It may be too early but there could be a sighting of Liam Walsh and Joe Morrell in the City midfield. The Robins take on their near neighbours from up the M5, with Michael Duff's side beating Stratford Town 3-0 in midweek ahead of visiting BS3. Keep an eye on below for team news and match updates across the afternoon Get the latest Robins news sent straight to your inbox Sign up to receive daily Bristol City news Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Bristol City begin their campaign in BS3 (flag day anyone?), ending the season there too against Brentford and face a Boxing Day match in Bristol against Wycombe as well. Could that final game against the Bees, who are second favourites to win the division as it stands, be significant? We hope so but there is such a long way to go until then, including a forgiving first few games to usher in the Dean Holden era, judging on last year's league positions.

Holden can possibly lay claim to being in the right place at the right time. While we're not suggesting that COVID-19 has won his job for him it surely will have been a factor in the last months: the break in football, the resumption, four losses in a row leading to Lee Johnson being sacked, Holden impressing in the final five games before winning the battle for the hot seat outright. As we've written before, his appointment is a gamble in some respects given his lack of experience - although arguably also not, given that he knows the club through and through. But the fans aren't fooled and many were disapproving of the City board's choice of new head coach, given that he was Johnson's right-hand man with Chris Hughton available and interested in the position, speaking on TalkSport radio on Thursday even about his hope that he will be back in management soon. And so the new 'gaffer' will be under pressure from the get-go.

No way will Holden be given the same amount of time that predecessor Johnson was given, which included a club record eight league defeats in a row in 2016/17. Results are a must early on to curry favour. A run of losses will quickly turn supporters' moods sour given they expected a high-calibre coaching appointment. And so early matches against Coventry, Stoke and Sheffield Wednesday must see points taken, if not before visits to Forest and Oakwell. City's first six 2020/21 Championship fixtures 12/09/2020 15:00 Coventry City (h) 19/09/2020 15:00 Stoke City (a) 26/09/2020 15:00 Sheffield Wednesday (h) 03/10/2020 15:00 Nottingham Forest (a) 17/10/2020 15:00 Barnsley (a) 20/10/2020 19:45 Middlesbrough (h) Standout games with extra significance? The first Severnside Derby of the season against Cardiff City is in the Welsh capital on November 7 with the Bluebirds to then visit BS3 on February 6. That game did for Lee Johnson. Results will be vital. Added to the mix: that every football team arrives off the back of a marothon-long season with little rest and recuperation, with a congested year of fixtures ahead. Some 13 rounds of matches will take place in midweek during the coming season. As seasoned football writer and former professional Gregor Robertson writes: "given the relentless volume of games crammed into a season starting five weeks late as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, I think I may have broken out in a cold sweat. Good luck, lads, is all I can say," as he points to player burnout and plagues of injuries to be sustained. It may well be that the limited 48-day break, two games a week for most of the season and more means that a strong squad is not a necessity to compete - but to just finish the season. Last man standing wins? At least, on paper, the start to the season is not as bad as it could have been as Holden and co are tested to the utmost. Latest Gloucestershire news to your inbox Join us here Thank you for subscribing See our privacy notice Invalid Email Cheltenham Town have turned down a bid of £150,000 from Peterborough United for midfielder Ryan Broom. The 23-year-old played 90 minutes for the Robins in Friday's 4-0 pre-season friendly defeat at Bristol City. While the game was taking place, Cheltenham rebuffed Peterborough's approach for one of their star players. Broom joined Cheltenham from Bristol Rovers on a one-year deal in the summer of 2018, penning another two-year contract at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. He was the subject of interest from Burton Albion during his first year at the club, with Peterborough and Portsmouth also closely monitoring his progress. Broom was voted Players' Player of the Year last season as Cheltenham reached the League Two play-offs after a fourth placed finish, losing to Northampton Town over two legs in the semi-finals. More to follow on this breaking story...