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📖 2021/22: City remain a work in progress

With the season having come to a close we cast our eye back over the highs and lows of the Championship season.

This was Nigel Pearson’s first full season in charge in BS3 and there was no doubting the expectation set by the crowd after how the 2020/21 season had panned out.

City have rode the waves of change. It’s been turbulent of course and overall the 2021/22 campaign has been another tough one to take on the chin. However, if lessons can be learnt, there’s plenty to look forward to on the horizon and Pearson will head into the summer break with a clearer idea of how to settle the ship.

Improving on the previous season will always be a club’s minimum ambition and City know they weren’t at their best for a lot of the campaign. City's 17th-placed finish is an advancement on last season’s 19th-placed finish, with the Robins finishing on more points, and six fewer defeats following the final fixture on May 7th.

However, Pearson will demand more from his squad when they return from the summer break if they are to push higher up the table. This was only his first full season in charge of the Robins and he will have learnt a great deal about his squad, he will decide who will continue on the journey going forward and where he can make tweaks to improve.

Pearson has been in charge at City for 18 months (JMPUK)

🏡 Winning at home

Going into the 2021/22 campaign, City knew they were without a home win since January, and they were presented an opening day chance to break the unwanted barren run against Blackpool in BS3. Only a last-ditch equaliser from the Tangerines meant it was a bitter pill to swallow and the wait for a win in BS3 would run on until the end of October.

That home win should have come against Nottingham Forest in mid-October but what would prove to be the Achilles heel on more than one occasion, City let slip their lead in the final embers of the game. It wasn’t long though, when Andreas Weimann’s quick-fire, first-half double ensured victory over Barnsley at Ashton Gate, to secure a first win on home soil in 17 attempts.

City then went three games unbeaten in BS3, however in an ironic turn of events, away form soon took a dip. The side had recorded memorable victories at Reading (3-2), Cardiff City (2-1), QPR (2-1) and Peterborough United (3-2) in the early part of the season, but between late October to March the Robins went 11 games without a win on the road.

Three points at Blackburn finally brought that run to an end, with City saving their best performance of the season for their final home fixture which saw the red dismantle Hull City 5-0 in front of a loud Ashton Gate crowd.

✌️ DOING THE DOUBLE

The Severnside derby is always a fixture the fans look out for and the bragging rights remain this side of the M4. Weimann was the hero in South Wales back in August, where his near-post finish gave us a half-time lead, before a rocket of a volley from Antoine Semenyo's cross sealed victory in front of the 2,453 travelling supporters.

We then had to come from behind in the return home fixture in January. Chris Martin was on fire as he returned to the starting line-up, scoring either side of the break, before Weimann's 13th goal of the season added to the scores.

Pearson’s side also secured maximum points over Reading, Derby County and Stoke City.

💫 MOMENTS FOR THE YOUNGSTERS

Even in a campaign which won’t end as hoped, there were still moments which will live in the memory.

Just ask George Tanner who at 19 stepped up to Championship football for the first time after signing from Carlisle United at the end of August. He went on to score his first goal for the club just a few weeks later in the 3-2 win at Peterborough United. It was a case of singing in the rain for the City fans at the rain-soaked Weston Home Stadium, where Chris Martin netted a late winner, with a very fitting, wet knee slide celebration.

At Ashton Gate, supporters finally saw City secure that long-awaited win over Barnsley, while a 3-2 win over Cardiff City in January won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Alex Scott has also enjoyed playing, particularly scoring, in BS3 with all four of his goals so far coming on home turf, notably the only goal to seal a 1-0 win over the Rams in December.

It’s been a coming-of-age campaign for the young midfielder, who was awarded a new contract in August on the day of his 18th birthday.

In all, Pearson handed 10 debuts to his players of all ages across the campaign, with 20-year-old defender Duncan Idehen the latest to feature in the 3-1 win at Pride Park. Cameron Pring and Robbie Cundy were also among the players to have earned their first team runout after previous campaigns on the fringes.

Scott shone brightly for the Robins throughout the season making 39 appearances in all competitions (JMPUK).

🧨 WEIMANN WONDERLAND

Weimann will also look back on the best goalscoring season of his career. He opened his account with a brace against Reading in August, while all three strikes in a 3-2 win over Millwall was just his second professional hat-trick after his 2018/19 heroics at Sheffield United.

The Austrian - who was also called up to the national team in March for the first time since 2015 - scored in both victories over Cardiff City, with his 20th coming against Derby County. He rounded off the season with a delightful double at Ashton Gate against the Tigers.

Weimann celebrates his injury-time winner at Ewood Park (JMPUK)
Weimann's Champagne Moment of the Season against Cardiff City (JMPUK)

👀 LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Pearson has often said this is an “honest” team and there is plenty of promise in the group. So now is the time for the squad to be “honest” with themselves, reflect on what has been and regroup as the manager heads into his second full season in charge for the 2022/23 campaign.

The foundations of the club are set but with more improvement and if lessons can be learnt, there is surely a lot of promise ahead.

Words: James Crawley


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