A yr of change earlier than the Severnside Derby


Return 12 months and the world looked very different – especially for the two championship teams on both sides of the Severn Estuary.

Cardiff and Bristol City both had different managers in Neil Warnock and Lee Johnson and were pursuing a spot in the top six after mixed campaign starts – but the two Severnside derbies would both end up losing their jobs.

It's been almost a year since Warnock left after a 1-0 home loss to Bristol City and it was the same result in the second leg eight months later and amid a global pandemic that saw Johnson sacked Robins from the national team.

Neil Warnock left Cardiff after a 1-0 loss to Bristol City last season

Neil Harris is now in charge at Cardiff and has steered them into the play-offs. He lost to another local rival in Swansea City in the semi-finals, admitting that he "had to work extremely hard to clean up" upon arrival.

"It was a little bit crazy at times. On the whole, it was pleasant and a learning curve, but times were flying," he said live on Sky Sports on Friday night before the clash with Bristol City.

Marley Watkins of Bristol City (left) in action with Marlon Pack of Cardiff
Marley Watkins of Bristol City (left) in action with Marlon Pack of Cardiff

"There is so much more to come from us and it starts tomorrow night."

Dean Holden is the man who succeeded Johnson. He appears to be preferred to high profile candidates like Chris Hughton – and many doubters were silenced in the dugout after a great start.

They ultimately finished 12th and have won five of their first ten games that season, staying in touch with the leading pack in seventh.

Making the transition from assistant to boss can be a difficult task, but Holden seems to have handled the task well. "For me, the only change is that I now make the big calls," he says.

Lee Johnson led Bristol City to eighth place last season
Lee Johnson was sacked by Bristol City earlier this year after losing 1-0 at Cardiff

His players have taken to him. Callum O & # 39; Dowda has called Holden an "extraordinary" head coach, commenting that while their relationship hasn't changed, the way the team plays. And that's what they'll need this weekend without the fans.

"(The way we play) It was a big change at this club," he says. "If there were fans it would be an advantage. It's a strange, strange time, uncertain time, but in a way we have to create our own atmosphere."

Friday, November 6th, 5:30 p.m.

Start at 6:00 p.m.

Holden, meanwhile, sees the team's positives and ability to "literally help the fans get through the weekend".

"It's that simple," he said. "We know what it means for the wider community. Our job is to put smiles on people's faces and hope we can do it."


Steven Gregory