Bristol City took a gamble but £1m QPR deal for Player of the Season frontrunner now looks a steal | OneFootball

Bristol City took a gamble but £1m QPR deal for Player of the Season frontrunner now looks a steal | OneFootball

Icon: Football League World

Football League World

·20 February 2024

Bristol City took a gamble but £1m QPR deal for Player of the Season frontrunner now looks a steal

Article image:Bristol City took a gamble but £1m QPR deal for Player of the Season frontrunner now looks a steal

Rob Dickie is only in his first season at Bristol City but he's already established himself as a first-team regular and is well in with a shout of being the club's Player of the Season.

Signing him from Queens Park Rangers in the summer for just £1m seemed a risk as he was part of a defence that conceded 71 goals as a team last season and the West Londoners only narrowly avoided the drop.

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After the Robins themselves conceded 56 goals in 2022/23, Nigel Pearson would certainly have viewed this statistic as one that needed to improve going into this season.

That has indeed proved to be the case in large part down to Dickie, who has been a mainstay in the team all season. He's made 37 appearances in all competitions, weighing in with four goals and proving a vital defensive presence.

One of those goals came in the 3-1 victory at home to Southampton last week when he scored a towering header from a corner to put his side 2-0 up and set them on the way to ending Saints' 25-game unbeaten run.

It's not been an easy season for City, with the club lacking both consistency in results and stability in the dugout as head coach Pearson left Ashton Gate at the end of October and was replaced by Liam Manning.

Nevertheless, they have proved their ability to mix it with the big boys, beating Premier League West Ham in an FA Cup third round replay after they had drawn with the Hammers at the London Stadium. The Robins then took Nottingham Forest to a replay in the fourth round, where they earned another draw at the City Ground before being beaten on penalties.

They're part of the pack chasing a top six place, seven points back as things stand, and Dickie looks likely to be central to their hopes of them defying the odds by sneaking into the play-offs.

Dickie's time at Bristol City so far

The foundation of Bristol City's success this season has been built from the back.

In the four games against top-flight sides, they only conceded two goals.

The West Ham and Forest attacks were well marshaled by the strong defensive axis of Dickie and Zak Vyner, who have started together in the Robins' last 23 matches.

In truth, Bristol City were unlucky not to go through and earn a home tie against Manchester United as they had 65% of possession, eight shots on target, and had the better chances throughout.

It wasn't to be in the end, and after the game Dickie gave his thoughts on the performance.

He told Bristol Live: “We need to carry this on into the league, but it’s no good just carrying the performance. We need to be winning games, our points return needs to be better and just punishing teams in front of goal - we really need to start taking our chances and the results will come.

"We’re working so hard to get chances. It’s not easy to get good ones, so when you do, just reward yourself. We need to be more ruthless and punish teams more.”

It's easy to see why he was so frustrated as well. Being solid at the back but lacking in front of goal has been the story of their season.

Bristol City have conceded 37 goals in the Championship, with only three teams having conceded fewer. But only 38 goals scored means they have scored the least of any team in the top half and only seven teams have scored fewer (Whoscored).

Rob Dickie defensive stats

The fact that seven of Bristol City's nine top-rated players this season, according to, are defenders tells near enough the full story.

Scott Twine is their best-rated player with 8.24, but the Burnley loanee has only made one appearance for the Robins in the 1-1 draw against Watford.

Dickie's average 6.93 rating over 31 appearances sees him ranked as the highest-performing Bristol City player after Twine, and his performances certainly back that up.

His arrival from QPR has coincided with the team tightening up at the back, and there's no doubt he's had a huge impact.

Bristol City Player of the Season contenders

If the award for Player of the Season was being handed out tomorrow, then Dickie should win it.

Considering it's his first campaign at the club and their strong defensive performances are the reason their faint play-off hopes are still alive, Dickie should be happy with his own personal level of performance.

He won Supporters' Player of the Year at Oxford United in 2019/20 and at QPR a season later. He could well do the same again for Bristol City come May.

If the attackers are firing, it's they who normally scoop up the individual prizes but that hasn't happened for Bristol City this term as their top scorer in the league is Tommy Conway on six.

If the club make a late surge for the play-offs and the attackers step up to the plate, then they could put themselves in the picture to rival Dickie for Player of the Season.

But if the pattern of the season so far continues, then Dickie is well on track to win the award.

Whoever claims the gong, right now the £1m risk that City took in making a move for a defender clearly lacking in confidence looks like a real masterstroke.

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