Nigel Pearson pulls no punches after latest Bristol City defeat
Nigel Pearson, the Bristol City manager, had some harsh words for his players after a 2-0 home loss to Stoke City on Good Friday dealt another blow to their fading promotion hopes in the Sky Bet Championship.
The loss saw City drop to fourteenth in the standings, 14 points behind sixth-placed Reading in the final play-off spot but with only seven games remaining. City are back in action today, on a full Easter Monday schedule, with a journey to the West Midlands to face relegation-threatened Coventry City, who are 21st.
City are without a home win in their past seven league matches as Pearman still awaits his first win at Ashton Gate. On the road, however, City are unbeaten in their past four after three wins and a draw.
Striker Nahki Wells, who missed Bermuda’s recent World Cup qualifiers in Florida against Canada and Aruba, was substituted in the 81st minute of the Stoke match, after he started up front with youngster Sam Bell. The academy graduate earned his first start for Bristol City before being forced off with a hamstring injury after only 16 minutes.
City managed to force just one save from the Stoke goalkeeper during the 90 minutes, through Antoine Semenyo, as the home team lacked punch in attack on their way to another home defeat that left them on 49 points.
"It’s a bit of a recurring nightmare, that’s the best way of putting it,” Pearson told Robins TV after the match. “It’s a disappointing result but we have to do more. I would rather us fail by being more positive.
“I thought today at times we took too long, I don’t think Dan [Bentley] has had too many saves and we end up losing 2-0. It’s a very frustrating situation for us and looking forward we have to change a few things.
“At times we were waiting for someone else to start us off and you can’t go into the game and be below par in so many areas.”
One positive for City was the performance of teenage midfielder Han-Noah Massengo, who catch the eye of his manager.
“If we had a few more Han-Noahs out there, in terms of a desire to make things happen, we’d be a lot better," Pearman said.
"I don’t normally do this but he represents what I look for in players. They get a chance in the side and they do everything they can, not just to secure their place but to improve as well. So he’s a really good example of that. In another difficult afternoon, he was a real bright spark.
“We need to respond from this but it’s perplexing how we can fail to perform at our own stadium, a great place, and it’s a difficult question to answer at the moment.
“I think the longer the situation goes on the more we talk about it and maybe it’s more a collective anxiety of being able to deal with disappointment when it happens. That’s something which is not straightforward to put right, but my way of looking at it is working to find the solutions.”
The chances are slim now that City can move eight places up the table in the last seven matches of the season, with Pearson sending out a strong message to his players ahead of the Coventry game.
“I’m not a big believer in hitting people for the sake of it,” he said. “It’s about finding solutions, finding the answers and if there are casualties along the way, then so be it.
"I don’t worry too much about that. We’re at a point in the season where I find out who’s here for the long run. I don’t want to continue persevering with people who have had plenty of chances. We have young players waiting in the wings and I won’t be afraid to use them.”
One of those players was striker Bell whose injury on Friday was frustrating for both the player and the City manager.
Pearson said of the youngster: “He’s done so well in training, he’s looked really explosive and I can’t give an answer as to why we’ve picked up so many injuries.
"We’re certainly not robust enough and we have to work on that moving forward. It’s another challenge, but we’ll deal with it.”