COTT SO PROUD OF HIS PLAYERS
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.
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?
“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.”
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