Former Bristol City boss takes on new role in League Two while Schalke defender visits HPC

Former Bristol City manager Gary Johnson has been named the new Director of Football at League Two Cheltenham Town on a day of considerable drama for the Gloucestershire club.

Darrell Clarke left his position as manager earlier on Thursday to sign a two-year contract at Barnsley and a few hours later news broke, via Gloucestershire Live's Jon Palmer, that Johnson is poised to return to Whaddon Road having previously served in the dugout from 2015-2018.

Johnson has been out of work since departing Torquay United in February as the Devon club announced they were appointing administrators. The 68-year-old had been in charge of the Gulls for the last six years and had secured promotion into the National League but also relegation last term. Torquay finished the 2023/24 18th in the National League South.

During his three years with Cheltenham he presided over relegation into the National League but led them straight back into League Two with a 101-point season in the fifth tier, with his squad at the time including a young Rob Dickie, who was on loan from Reading.

Johnson, who is still based in Portishead, has now taken an upstairs role in Gloucestershire with the League Two club also to name a new head coach following Clarke’s exit. The 47-year-old was unable to keep the Robins in the third tier, as they were relegated on the final day of last season and, with a year remaining on his contract, has left for Oakwell.

"Gary comes with a wealth of experience and I'm sure that he will do a really good job," said Cheltenham chairman David Bloxham. "We're looking forward to working with him again and hope he can help us rebuild and bounce back from the disappointment of last season."

Johnson certainly has a job on his hands with Cheltenham losing Clarke but also three of their most important players with midfielder and Player of the Season Liam Sercombe, goalkeeper Luke Southwood and long-serving defender Sean Long all departing on free transfers.

Meanwhile, Bristol City fans thought they had been provided a clue as to who their first summer signing was as Schalke defender Ibrahima Cisse posted a since-deleted image on his Instagram page from outside the High Performance Centre.

The 23-year-old Mali youth international still has two years to run on his deal in Gelsenkirchen but his presence in the West Country certainly aroused interest, both in Bristol and back in Germany. However, Cisse is the younger brother of City coach/scout Khalifa and Bristol Live understands he was simply visiting his sibling over the off-season.

Reports have also indicated that former City Head of Scouting Des Taylor is involved with takeover talks at Championship side Sheffield United, as an American consortium are bidding to buy the club from Saudi owner Prince Abdullah.

Alan Nixon claims that Taylor, who left Ashton Gate in 2017 before working with Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, is serving as a consultant for the prospective buyers.

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