Why Bristol City fans will want to forget 2012
Welcome as it may have been, Saturday's confidence-boosting victory over Peterborough United cannot mask what has been a bitterly disappointing year for Bristol City.
Further heavy financial losses have been matched by continued under-achievement on the pitch and the vast majority of Robins fans will be heartily glad to see the back of 2012.
Having fulfilled his remit to keep City in the Championship last season, manager Derek McInnes installed his own back-room team, moved out 13 players and brought in seven new ones to usher in a summer of renewed optimism at Ashton Gate.
And for a while, at least, it seemed City fans could look forward to a brighter future as Crystal Palace and Cardiff were put to the sword in some style during August.
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Unfortunately, those early-season victories proved to be a false dawn and an alarming slide, hastened be a bewildering number of injuries to key players, saw City sink to the foot of the table on the back of a club-record-equalling seven straight defeats.
Rather than sack the manager, club owner Steve Lansdown gave McInnes his unequivocal backing and left no doubt that the Scot would be the man spending the cash in the January transfer window.
Whether McInnes is able to justify Lansdown's continued faith in him remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – City must improve upon their points return in 2012 if they are to retain their second tier status next May.
Of the 47 Championship fixtures played by the Robins in the past 12 months, a mere 12 resulted in wins, while 11 were drawn and 24 lost.
Given that City will, in all likelihood, require a minimum 47 points to avoid the drop this season, they will have to win eight out of their final 22 games if they are to repeat last season's belated escape.
Of course, some City fans are now of the opinion that a concerted recovery is beyond the current manager's powers and they are openly advocating a change at the top.
But while McInnes enjoys Lansdown's support, he remains safe and, despite the unremitting gloom of recent months, there are reasons to look forward to 2013 with a degree of optimism.
As key performers have returned from injury, so performances and results have improved and the seven-match losing sequence that so undermined confidence during October and November, has been followed by a respectable return of 11 points from eight games.
But City's home form holds the key to Championship survival and, if they are to move clear of trouble in the weeks and months ahead, then the Robins must build upon Saturday's demolition of Peterborough and render Ashton Gate a fortress once more.
Defensive inadequacies lie at the heart of the team's shortcomings in 2012 and January is sure to prove a pivotal month in the continued fight against relegation.
Providing he moves players out, McInnes has been told he can recruit the new signings he believes are urgently necessary if City are to climb the table between now and the end of the campaign.
It will be the Scot's ability to operate in a competitive market-place that will most likely determine City's fate. In short, he will be judged on his signings.
But providing certain key players remain fit and McInnes is able to strengthen his squad over the next few weeks, City should at least have a fighting chance to staying up.