Bristol City hero’s verdict on Nigel Pearson and their Premier League dream

Little won League One and EFL Trophy during his time at Ashton Gate

Mark Little has put praise on to the current regime at Bristol City as he tips them to achieve their Premier League dream.

Little played in one of the most successful teams in modern years. He was part of the League One and EFL Trophy-winning side in 2015.

Much has changed at Ashton Gate since his departure for Bolton Wanderers in 2017. They secured their highest-placed finish in a decade with an eighth-placed finish and got to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.

Lee Johnson, the manager who released him, left and he was replaced by coach Dean Holden for several months. Holden though was sacked and replaced by the incumbent Nigel Pearson.

After failed attempts to break into the Championship top six, the club have had to cut costs after club-record losses. Club record transfer fees are a thing of the past and now free transfers are the most common of incomings.

“Everything you have just said is kind of how I felt the club was going. Living on their means and using the youngsters,” he said.

“It is what happened for me when I first started when I made my debut for Wolves and it was a period when the club needed to stick to their means and give the youngsters a go. It worked in my time and hopefully that works for City now.”

City have been unable to compete with a majority of second-tier sides who have had Premier League experience boasting the riches of top-flight football. Steve Lansdown, a long-serving owner of the club, has continued to keep the club afloat through his investment.

Under his stewardship, Ashton Gate has gone through a major redevelopment and there is more to come around the surrounding areas. City have also

Despite the current predicament, the club finds itself in, Pearson and the current players have earned praise from one of their promotion heroes.

“The manager knows what he is doing without a shadow of a doubt,” Little said. "For me, I look and it wouldn’t surprise me if I looked at the league table and Bristol City are third. The setup, the players, and the manager, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were up and around it. It does surprise me if they are a team that is near the bottom of the league.

“It’s how I feel it has been the last three or four years when I have looked at results and things. It’s a shame because I definitely feel they should be at the higher end of the table pushing for the Premiership. I’m pretty certain as long as Mr. Lansdown stays at the helm and what I mean that he is an owner that he is involved. He’s got the finances and he is involved, and he cares. That is exactly what you need as an owner. You couldn’t ask for anything more.

He added: “It’s a matter of time, it’s not, and if it’s a when. It’ll all come together. You can’t just throw money at it for it all to come together. You can’t just get a brand new training ground and have all loads new pitches, it doesn’t work that way. It just all has to come together at the right time which is if people knew the formula to that then sport wouldn’t be so good would it?”

Little had been entrusted by Steve Cotterill and later Lee Johnson down the right-hand side for three seasons. He departed the West Country with 102 appearances to his name and two goals that he remembers fondly.

It is a position that City have struggled with down the years trying various options. He was a sound option in varying formations but crossed paths with some of the members of the squad today.

Zak Vyner was coming through the academy system at the time and made his debut when Little was in the same squad as him. The 25-year-old began as a right-sided defender and had valuable loans at Accrington Stanley, Plymouth, Rotherham United and Aberdeen.

Vyner has since gone on to become a regular first-team player for City and recently made 100 appearances for the club. It took six seasons for him to cement himself in the squad but he has not looked back since. Little at the time, remembered the competition Vyner provided him and is happy that he has gone on to become an important part of Pearson’s side.

“I told him everything he knows," he joked.

“Of course, you could always see he was gonna be a good player. It doesn’t work that way yes you’re playing well in the youth team which means he’s going to find his place and make 100 appearances for the club.

“You could see he had talent. I came in every day and recognised Zak is on my heels now, I’ve got to fix up. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he is getting the success that he has. He’s such a good lad that he is going to kick on even more.”