Banner image

Author

James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Thursday, February 25th 2021

Realising potential, stability and first observations…Pearson gets to work in BS3

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for Nigel Pearson who, after watching City beat Middlesbrough 3-1 on Teesside on Tuesday night, was straight back to Bristol for his first day at work.

He’s taking it all in his stride as befits a manager of vast experience with the likes of Watford, Leicester City and Southampton to name but a few clubs on his impressive CV.

Wednesday was a day for Pearson to meet staff and explore Ashton Gate as he gets to understand the workings of the football club. After all, “that’s really important for me, to get into the fabric of what the club’s about,” he told Robins TV.

In a wide-ranging interview with Robins TV, Pearson discusses those first 48 hours with the Robins, his aims for rest of the season, his belief in developing players and fitting into new surroundings.

He also talks about hobbies outside of work, his love of the outdoors, the impact of football without supporters and answers fan-submitted questions via social media.

Bacon sandwiches and a missed phone call

He began his chat with Robins TV about how the opportunity arose.

He said: “The initial contact I had was on Sunday morning. I was making bacon sarnies downstairs, missed the call and my wife messaged me down to say I need to pick up a phone call. It was quick, we had a brief conversation and agreed to be part of a Zoom call that afternoon.

“It was surprise at first but I was keen to explore and things happened pretty quickly. I was offered the job Sunday evening and it went from there.”

Changes

Pearson’s appointment was made official on Monday night, almost a week on from Dean Holden’s departure as head coach with City sadly struggling to find results.

“For the players and existing staff, when there’s a change it is always potentially difficult,” said Pearson, as he addressed the difficulties. “For someone like Dean Holden who had such a long association with the football club, it’s important we recognise his contribution. It’s never easy when a club like this with a lot of integrity has to make a change for someone who had such a positive influence over a sustained period.

“One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to get into the job as quickly as possible and try and keep the message pretty simple. We have some talented players here, some are missing [due to injuries] at the moment but we’re dealing with that. It’s important we get some stability between now and the end of the season so we can at last do what we’ve been striving to do.

“People will get tired of hearing it’s a club with potential, it’s time we realise the potential. The infrastructure here is excellent, this is a well-run football club and it’s important we push on.

“These are exciting times, I’m really delighted to be here, I’m grateful to both Steve and Jon Lansdown, to Mark Ashton who has been very supportive, to give me the opportunity to be here. The fact things progressed quickly, I think, illustrates that both sides were very keen to make this happen.”

The challenge of joining in the midst of a campaign

Pearson’s appointment as manager came ahead of the win over Middlesbrough, meaning he will take charge in the dugout against the Swans on Saturday. That will be the first of the remaining 14 games still to play in the scheduled Sky Bet Championship season.

With that in mind, Pearson addressed how he will approach joining the club and the responsibility that comes with that with a little under a third of the campaign to go.

“It’s clarity of thought as much as anything,” he said. “People like to pigeonhole a manager’s coaching style and I won’t be different. People will have opinions as to what I’m about but what’s important is what is changeable. Of course, from my own perspective I know that what’s in place here is a very sound foundation.

“My touch might have to be subtle in some areas but I will concentrate on what I’m here to do and that’s to deal with the football, provide direction and clarity to the players and hopefully be a part of a team which help us as a club to fulfil our potential.

“It’s not about coming in to reinvent the wheel, it’s about clarity, direction and leadership.”

First observations

Needless to say, Pearson has had little time to make large assessments of the squad but from interactions ahead of kick-off on Tuesday and from what he observed from the stands at the Riverside Stadium, he can already see the positives and how he can influence.

He said: “There’s some really good things, there are areas where we know we’ve been out of form. Players will never go out there and not perform well on purpose, we’ve had a difficult run and sometimes there can be an anxiety that builds.

“What is very important is the framework we put in place for the players is one that allows them to go and play. In the first half last night we showed what we’re capable of at times with some pace in the side, there was character too because it’s not easy after seven defeats to go out there and perform.

“There were spells [against Middlesbrough] where we weren’t as compact as we could be but it was a good performance, a response and we’re pleased for the coaching staff. The preparation was difficult, it’s never easy to keep preparing players who know they’ve not been at their best. All these things together it’s very much a point where we need to try and kick on from this position.

“I’m not naïve, we have our difficulties with availability of players, but I say to them that it’s an opportunity for someone else. It’s a case of we’re in this situation, we can’t focus on the negative aspects of it, let’s do something about it ourselves.”

Player development

City have averaged five Academy players in the matchday squad this season and the likes of Ryley Towler and Sam Bell have gained minutes on the pitch to ease City’s injuries, while Antoine Semenyo and Tyreeq Bakinson are examples of players who have stepped up to earn their place this season.

Everyone has a role to play and City have a proud background in offering opportunity to their youngsters. It’s a shared philosophy of Pearson too as he explained how player development is key.

“People talk about developing players and think it applies just to young players. I’m a big believer that any player in their career can continue to develop. In terms of exposure for young players in a first team environment, if they’re good enough, it’s good to give them pitch time but you’ve also got to be very aware and understand the added pressure of having to perform in a side where senior players can’t help them as much as they’re trying to take care of their own game.

“It’s not an exact science but you have to use experience. You have to give younger players opportunities when they have the best chance of succeeding themselves, be that in a side that is stable, picking up decent results and when there is a consistency in performance. That doesn’t necessarily equate to where we’ve been recently but in the short period of time I’ve observed the body language and behaviours of the youngsters around the squad, there are lots of positives for sure.”

Full focus on City

He continued: “One of my incentives is to do a good-enough job where we can talk about a longer period of time, for sure. I understand why the question is asked but I’m already in work mode, I’m here, ready to work and that’s all it’s about. I’m not looking at anything outside of working for Bristol City.”

“When I immerse myself in a job, the job itself is one thing and the overall experience is also very important to me. I’m looking forward to spending time here and I’m not far away from my home in Devon,” he said, adding Bristol is “a beautiful part of the world with a lot of heritage, unique history.”

Pearson takes charge of City for the first time when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea this Saturday.

The match will be streamed live on Robins TV and supporters can watch Pearson take the dugout with the matchday show starting at 2.30pm.

Streaming passes cost just £10.

Get your Robins TV pass

Related News

Press conference: Nigel Pearson meets the media

Press conference: Nigel Pearson meets the media

Posted: Wednesday, February 24th 2021

Gallery: Pearson settles into managerial role

Gallery: Pearson settles into managerial role

Posted: Wednesday, February 24th 2021

Pearson joins Robins as manager

Pearson joins Robins as manager

Posted: Monday, February 22nd 2021

Latest News

Press conference: Nigel Pearson and Tommy Conway preview Owls

Press conference: Nigel Pearson and Tommy Conway preview Owls

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021

Pearson praises players’ recovery

Pearson praises players’ recovery

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021

‘Opportunity to express ourselves’ – Beard

‘Opportunity to express ourselves’ – Beard

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021

‘There’s always a buzz around the FA Cup’ – Allen

‘There’s always a buzz around the FA Cup’ – Allen

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021

Also from Bristol Sport

In memory of Coach Vince Marriott
Basketball icon

In memory of Coach Vince Marriott

With great sadness, the Bristol Flyers family has been mourning the passing of Coach Vince Marriott.

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021 • Basketball

Fitz Harding: Perseverance, process and climbing the ladder
Rugby icon

Fitz Harding: Perseverance, process and climbing the ladder

Fitz Harding on a whirlwind year, being a late bloomer, BUCS rugby and learning from the best at Bristol Bears in our latest in-depth feature interview.

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021 • Rugby

Bears announce 2021/22 Season Card pricing
Rugby icon

Bears announce 2021/22 Season Card pricing

We are excited to welcome supporters safely back to Ashton Gate with the launch of the 2021/22 Bristol Bears Season Card package.

Posted: Thursday, April 15th 2021 • Rugby

Malins delighted to be back in contention
Rugby icon

Malins delighted to be back in contention

Max Malins says he is ready and raring to go ahead of a potential return to action against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (5pm KO, live on BT Sport 3 HD).

Posted: Wednesday, April 14th 2021 • Rugby

Ask Charles: All Black to answer fans' questions
Rugby icon

Ask Charles: All Black to answer fans' questions

Charles Piutau is set to answer fans’ questions LIVE on Friday, via the Bears official Facebook page.

Posted: Wednesday, April 14th 2021 • Rugby