One Blog in Bristol: Pearson Not to Blame for Underachieving Players

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Bristol City podcaster Stanley Hughes says that manager Nigel Pearson is not to blame for the disappointments felt by fans of the club this year.

Bristol City fans raise their arms in triumph.

Bristol City are probably doing as well as most fans would have predicted at the start of the season. One glance at the pre-season predictions we asked for back in August would suggest as such. Very few shouts for a playoff push, no overwhelming sense of positivity and a general sense of realism going into another year of Championship football. I’d argue that this was the first season in a long time where the majority of fans were resigned to a lacklustre campaign. Finishing last season with one win in ten probably helped dampen everyone’s expectations. It mentally prepared everyone for what was to come.

Manager Not to Blame

I’d say that despite the disappointing league position, the season has so far been anything other than lacklustre. We are third in the table for goals scored, sixth in the table for goals conceded. We’ve certainly got value for money, or at least as much as you can do what with the current cost of going to the football. I think our fans have been entertained a fair amount this season, perhaps more than we were expecting. The level of vitriol on social media towards the club and players is far less than it has been in the past when City were probably playing better.

Normally most of the disdain is directed at the manager, this isn’t the case with Nigel Pearson at the helm. For whatever reason, he has avoided the majority of criticism. Rightly so in my eyes, the displeasure amongst fans has been directed elsewhere. At the players, a previous CEO and the current ownership.

Welcome Dose of Pragmatism

Pearson’s realism is welcome and reflects the views of the fanbase

Pearson comes across as a realist, someone clearly self-aware of where we are as a club right now. His cautiousness to be overly optimistic has seeped into the minds of fans. His realism and honesty is in stark contrast to the forced positivity football clubs are regularly putting out nowadays. Fans have consistently cried out for a manager who “isn’t a yes man”, in all honesty I’ve never really understood what they wanted when they said that. It does however seem that Pearson fits the bill for their request.

When Jon Lansdown said “We should be competitively better than we are doing at the moment in the league.” I imagine most City fans agreed. Nigel Pearson probably agrees, when that quote was put to him he responded by saying: “…we haven’t won the number of games we should’ve done, we haven’t got the number of points we should’ve had but we’re not underperforming. In fact, a lot of our players are overperforming.”

Room for Improvement?

Should we be doing better than we are? It’s unsurprising that Nigel Pearson hit back at it, he wants to defend his tenure and rightly so. The financial landscape of the club is something that he should. The club are certainly spending enough money that we should be achieving more on the pitch. You could describe our defence as leaky, we’ve conceded the third most goals in the division. You’d have to find a stronger adjective than that to describe Bristol City when you read that they’re losing £412k a week.

For such a financial outlay, you’d have hoped we were doing better in the table. Pearson isn’t the reason we’re spending all that money, his signings have been relatively affordable and have performed quite well. The big earners were nothing to do with him, I’m sure a few of them will be the first to depart the club.

Changes on the Horizon

Look at the the value we have on the pitch, how much of it is down to previous managers and how much of it is down to Pearson. You could argue that the likes of Scott, Semenyo and even Massengo are playing their best football since they joined the club. Pearson is a massive part of that. Brian Tinnion is overseeing an academy that is constantly recruiting and developing young players. With Pearson he has a manager who is comfortable giving them game time in order for them to grow even faster as footballers.

If we are to stop haemorrhaging money, we are going to have to start selling players again. If we start selling our best players again, it’s gonna be hard not to underachieve. The club is in a serious pickle right now. At least we have an owner who is capable and willing to bail us out financially. At least we have a manager who is willing to develop young talent, be honest about where we are right now as a club and speak frankly even when it’s most difficult.

Stanley Hughes is host of the popular ‘One Stream In Bristol’, the original Bristol City FC podcast. He writes about The Robins every week for MansionBet.
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