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Interview with an away fan: Bristol City

Leeds welcome Bristol City to Elland Road on Saturday, looking to climb further up the table after a win last weekend against Crystal Palace. Paul Binning a Bristol City blogger was kind enough to spare some of his time to give me an insight into the Robins.

You lost on Saturday against the in-form Brighton, did you deserve to lose?

Probably not but that’s the way things are going for us at the moment. It was a good game of football, we played well and Brighton were impressive, but that’s now four out of four at home without scoring. The fans need to see a goal!

Bristol City sit 21st in the table, are you worried about the season ahead or is it just a slow start to the season?

Possibly a bit of both. We’ve won at Leicester, held our own against table-topping Brighton and Portsmouth and in the last five games we’ve only conceded four times, a vast improvement after shipping six in the first two hours of our season. However that’s really scraping the barrel for positives and we don’t often look like scoring, are lacking any flair, still look shaky at the back at times and no-one’s quite sure where the next win is coming from.

If we don’t do something different, quickly, then it’s going to be a nervous and long season.

Last season you had a crazy few weeks to start the season with the departure of Steve Coppell, are you happy with Keith Millen at the helm?

Coppell going was a blow. Him going two games into the season was incredibly difficult for all involved and undoubtedly had a massive impact on our season. Millen did well last year in my view, signing a number of players – in the two weeks he had available – that made a real difference and turned our season around. However, for various reasons few of them are playing regularly now (Stephen Caulker, Jon Stead and Brett Pitman, as well as previous signings Kalifa Cisse and Liam Fontaine) and this summer signings have been few and far between as our budget has been cut drastically.

I feel on one hand it’s tricky to criticise a manger who has his hands financially tied and fielded an opening day XI that were all at the club last season, but he doesn’t seem to react quickly enough or well when things aren’t going right during matches, and the over-reliance on Maynard as a lone striker in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation means Stead and Pitman are currently surplus to first team requirements.

Luciano Becchio securing a win against Bristol City last season!

Luciano Becchio securing a win against Bristol City last season!

You finished 15th last year, were you happy with that and what are the expectations this season?

Had you asked any fan before the season then 15th would have been a disappointing outlook. Bearing in mind what happened at the start of the season (see previous question), and the fact we were bottom in October and January, then most were delighted at the end of season obscurity we managed to achieve!

I am a big admirer of Nicky Maynard and I thought he would have moved on this summer. What does he bring to the team and do you think he will stay in January?

Quite simply he’s the best striker we’ve had since Andy Cole in the early nineties. He has pace, an incredible first touch, works hard, takes his chances in the box and can score spectacular goals from outside the box, such as the overhead bicycle kick from outside the penalty area vs QPR which won goal of the season a couple of years back.

It was reported we turned down £6m for him from Leicester so a big gamble has been taken by the Board as he’s out of contract in the summer. He’ll probably go in January if a Premier League club comes in, otherwise will leave in the summer. Don’t know anyone who expects to see him here next season.

Neil Kilkenny signed for Bristol this summer on a free transfer from the best club in the division, I personally loathed him I think he is overrated and a big moaner. How has he done so far and do you rate him?

He’s not exactly setting the world on fire but then he’s playing a central role in an under-performing team so not exactly the platform he perhaps needs. We needed someone in the middle who could string a few passes together and he fits that bill, but seems to slow the game down quite a bit, although the lack of options in front of him certainly doesn’t aid him with that.

Who do Leeds fans need to watch out for on Saturday?

Maynard’s the obvious name but Albert Adomah, although he was our player of the season last year with a tring of sparkling performances on the wing, is still relatively unknown amongst fans of the opposition clubs. Also fancy Kilkenny might be the sort of player to raise his performance for particular games and will be up for a big game on his return to Elland Road.

If you could have any Leeds player who would it be?

The answer to this would have been Max Gradel until a couple of weeks ago, so think I’d go for the pair of Snodgrass and Howson. Snodgrass in particular looks as if he could go on to play at a higher level while Howson seems to drift between the opposition back four and the midfield with ease and always looks a threat when I’ve seen him.

Prediction for the match, I am going 3-1 home win?

It says a lot about our current predicament but unfortunately I find it hard to disagree. I’ll go for 2-0 instead though.

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