COTT SO PROUD OF HIS PLAY­ERS

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

BRIS­TOL City manager Steve Cot­ter­ill says the Robins’ com­plete dom­i­na­tion of League One was no more than he de­manded on day one of pre-sea­son.

Bot­tom of the third tier when the for­mer Not­ting­ham For­est and Burn­ley boss took charge last sea­son, City be­came the first League club in Eng­land to win pro­mo­tion af­ter Tues­day’s 6-0 de­struc­tion of Brad­ford City.

And they wrapped up the ti­tle with a 0-0 home draw against Coven­try yes­ter­day.

Spec­tac­u­lar

It marks the end of a two-year ab­sence from the Cham­pi­onship and the cul­mi­na­tion of a spec­tac­u­lar re­build­ing job that also brought victory in the Johnstone’s Paint Tro­phy.

“I never had a re­mit to get out of this di­vi­sion,” said Cot­ter­ill.“The re­mit I had when I ar­rived was to keep the club in League One. There was no pres­sure from above this sum­mer, no ul­ti­ma­tums or de­mands.

“What we’ve done was driven by me and the play­ers. I’m the one who came in on the first day of pre­sea­son and said ‘I want to win the league’.

“And they are the ones who’ve re­sponded. That game against Brad­ford was our 55th of the sea­son. By the time we’re done, the likes of Luke Free­man and Aden Flint will be push­ing 60 games.They’ve never let their stan­dards slip, never been out­run by the op­po­si­tion. It’s been a great ef­fort.”

Cot­ter­ill’s canny re­cruit­ment, with stand­out buy Free­man nom­i­nated for the League One Player of the Year award, has brought ac­cu­sa­tions of splash­ing the cash. But the Robins boss gives that short shrift and says the naysay­ing is dis­re­spect­ful to last year’s stal­warts. “Every­body says we bought up the di­vi­sion, but that’s a bit of a non­sense to be quite hon­est,” said the 50-year-old.

“We took Luke Ayling for £175,000 from Yeovil, who had just been rel­e­gated. We took Korey

Smith for £300,000 from Old­ham. We took Luke Free­man for £500,000 from Steve­nage and Kieran Agard cost us £700,000 from Rother­ham.

“When you add that up, it comes to about £1.6m.Well, we sold Sam Bal­dock – last sea­son’s top goalscorer – for £2m. So we spent only what we earned.

“But what some­times gets over­looked is this: ex­ist­ing play­ers like Frankie Field­ing, Aden Flint, Derek Wil­liams, Mar­lon Pack and Joe Bryan were all reg­u­lars this year.

“There has been a lot more con­ti­nu­ity than peo­ple think and those five play­ers don’t get the credit they de­serve for the way they’ve im­proved.”

Hav­ing started his man­age­rial ca­reer with Non-League Chel­tenham in 1997, Cot­ter­ill has now won pro­mo­tion to ev­ery di­vi­sion from the Con­fer­ence to the Cham­pi­onship. That just leaves one more to com­plete the set – so can Cot­ter­ill and City fi­nally give Bris­tol a Pre­mier League club?

Re­al­is­tic

“The city’s big enough to war­rant it,” he says. “But let’s be re­al­is­tic. Af­ter my first game, this club was bot­tom of League One. We’re not even in the Cham­pi­onship yet.

“What I do know is that when I got here, con­fi­dence was very low. I thought the play­ers didn’t have an iden­tity. I thought the sup­port­ers needed some­thing to cheer, and I think I’ve suc­ceeded.

“At some point, we need to sit down, plan ahead, and make sure this isn’t the end. Right now, we should en­joy what has been a fan­tas­tic sea­son.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

PARTY TIME: Bris­tol City cel­e­brate pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship af­ter their 6-0 de­mo­li­tion of Brad­ford

THANKS: Steve Cot­ter­ill applauds the fans, while Joe Bryan nets the sec­ond in the 6-0

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