Bristol City have parted company with former Yeovil Town boss Gary Johnson after four and a half years. Despite taking the Robins to automatic promotion from League One, and within one match of the Premier League, Johnson has been forced out today after a run of poor form saw City supporters - and allegedly players - rebel against the man who had brought them back to the second tier of English football.
City had been on a run of two wins from 12 games, and the final straw appears to have been a 3-2 defeat against Plymouth Argyle in which City lost to a last minute goal. The curse of the 90th minute has been Johnson's undoing this season with 11 goals conceded during the last five minute of games, with a huge number of those matches costing the Robins points.
They currently lie in 15th place in the Championship table - fairly par for the course for a side that is the 16th best supported club in the division. But there have been growing calls for Johnson's resignation within the Bristol club's supporter base, and on Tuesday night there were allegations of a half time bust-up with winger Ivan Sproule. That appears to have made Chairman Steve Lansdown finally respond to the growing pressure from City's over-demanding fans.
Johnson's record in football since he joined Yeovil Town in June 2001 is nothing short of stunning. For those of short memories the highlights are:
1) 2001-02 : Wins Yeovil Town the FA Trophy - the club's first major national silverware.
2) 2002-03 : Wins Yeovil Town the Conference by a record 17 point margin
3) 2004-05 : Wins Yeovil Town the League Two title
4) 2006-07 : Wins Bristol City promotion after they had spent eight years trying to get out of League One
5) 2007-08 : Gets Bristol City within 90 minutes of the Premier League - losing to Hull City in the play-off final
So how does such a good manager become a bad manager overnight? The answer, of course, is that he doesn't. But football clubs are rarely run in the same way as normal businesses are run, and once a campaign to remove a manager becomes relentless, turning the tide becomes almost an impossibility. Once that began to sneak through the dressing room door - allegedly - the end was nigh.
Gary Johnson deserves better than that, and we're sure that he will have little difficulty in finding future employment. He will go with some significant financial compensation as well - he had signed a five year contract at Ashton Gate that ran until June 2013, meaning that City will have had to pay out against the remaining three years and four months of his contract.
As an aside, the news is not particularly good for Yeovil Town supporters. Johnson had made it clear that he would allow the loan deal for Gavin Williams to be extended beyond the initial month if all parties agreed. However, with a new man likely to be in the hot seat by the time his deal expires, it would seem likely that Williams would be recalled to Bristol to allow him to assess the Welshman's suitability for a new contract, which expires in the summer. Unless City's new manager knows Williams well already, he will probably want to see what he can do at Ashton Gate.
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