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The weird and wonderful methods Bristol City used to become giant-killers

It was no happy accident that Lee Johnson's side beat Man United in the EFL Cup quarter-final

One of the following is not like the others…

Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Bristol City make up the EFL Cup semi-finalists after the latter upset Man United at Ashton Gate.

The result came as a surprise to many but look a little closer and you’ll see it was no happy accident.

Bristol City are owned by billionaire Steve Lansdown but their greatest asset is manager Lee Johnson.

The 36-year-old manager, who played for the club between 2006-2012 and is the son of the club’s former manager Gary Johnson, is obsessed with his role and openly describes himself as a ‘workaholic’.

Johnson has travelled to Real Madrid, Latvian club Skonto Riga, and plenty of clubs in between in search of inspiration and models to follow.

The result of his pilgrimage is a unique, detail-focused approach and philosophy that has Bristol City riding high in the Championship and with a hope of lifting a trophy.

A worthy pitch invasion

Getty - Contributor
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A worthy pitch invasion

And his methods are unusual to say the very least.

Every training session is recorded from above by a drone.

Johnson then reviews the footage to gain further insight into his squad’s positioning and shape.

He has an interactive screen at home, similar to that used by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football, on which he fiddles and tinkers while waiting for the kettle to boil or watching television.

Rarely has a young manager immersed himself in the role with such abandon.


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Coaching is life

PA:Press Association
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Coaching is life

All the Bristol City players and coaches have access to a custom-made app which allows them to view information and statistics about matches, training and NFL-style set plays.

From a more abstract point of view, Johnson has sought advice from the SAS about operational efficiency.

He also spent 12 hours in A&E at a local hospital, studying decision-making under intense pressure.

City dealt with the pressure of a big Cup tie exceptionally

PA:Empics Sport
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City dealt with the pressure of a big Cup tie exceptionally

Johnson likes the grass at Ashton Gate to be cut so it’s 23mm high.

He studies the surfaces at away grounds and had great success away to Norwich when he recognised balls over the top would stick in the 27mm high blend of grass and artificial fibres.

Johnson is also learning French so he can communicate with members of his squad more coherently.

Bonjour…

Reuters
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Bonjour…

And so on and so forth.

This isn’t the case of a former player waltzing in on daddy’s coattails; he’s worked harder than anyone in the Football League to get his beloved club to where they are now.

Many are tipping Bristol City for promotion to the Premier League and when they meet Man City in the EFL Cup semi-final you can bet Johnson will absorb as much as possible from Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola and Johnson are also likely to exchange fashion advice

Getty Images - Getty
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Guardiola and Johnson are also likely to exchange fashion advice

You’d be wrong to think the technology-loving gaffer is some introverted charisma vacuum.

Ahead of the Man United game, Johnson imported a £450 bottle of wine from Portugal to share with Jose Mourinho after the final whistle.

Inevitably, he had hoped to use it as a way of coaxing some advice and words of wisdom from the ‘Special One’ but it speaks volumes of the respect he has for his peers as well.

Johnson’s celebration of Korey Smith’s 93rd minute winner was a scene of pure joy…

Bristol City are perhaps the most progressive, ambitious club in the country outside the top flight and if all goes to plan we’ll be seeing their trademark celebratory GIFs in the Premier League next season.

All hail the giant-killers!


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