Is Bristol City’s Lee Johnson the Pep Guardiola of the Championship?
Bristol City suffered a heartbreaking defeat in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad last night.
Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time winner left the Championship side’s players crumbled on the pitch. A superb performance saw the Robins go toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Man City side.
Premier League sides with more talent and much bigger payrolls have gone to the Etihad and parked the proverbial bus. And at the same time, offering practically nothing in attack.
However, Lee Johnson’s side put in a magnificent performance, pressing brilliantly and breaking in numbers. They even took the lead.
It can be an arduous task facing a Pep Guardiola side. The Citizens will control the ball for large swathes of the game and seem to cut through teams at will.
Bristol City were not only disciplined in defence, but they showed balls of steel when they got the ball.
At the back, Nathan Baker and Aden Flint were superb and defended with their lives. They didn’t just lump it forward at any given opportunity, though.
It was a calculated build-up in which they fed the likes of Korey Smith and Marlon Pack in midfield. The full-backs, Hordur Magnusson and Bailey Wright would then break in support.
Robins’ forwards Bobby Reid and Jamie Paterson would drop deep to collect the ball – in the way David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne would – and then intricately work it out to the flanks.
Wingers would then overlap the full-backs and suddenly Bristol City were breaking in numbers and attacking with intent.
It was exhilarating to watch a Championship side take it to Man City away from home. Particularly a side full of players plenty of us at home watching would not have heard of.
Lee Johnson must take huge credit for this Robins side. It was only a year ago that the Ashton Gate faithful were losing patience with the former Oldham and Barnsley head coach.
However, that patience is now paying significant dividends. City are currently just two points off an automatic promotion place.
Despite some recent ropey results, Johnson continues to keep faith with his attacking style of play. Even Guardiola was impressed. The Catalan heaped praise on Johnson and Bristol City after the game.
The Robins remain one of the most attractive sides to watch in the Championship and the majority of that is down to Lee Johnson.
It won’t be long before bigger, more illustrious sides come calling for him.
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