Bristol City lack a clear identity under Nigel Pearson as bold prediction about his tenure made

BristolWorld fan columnist Ian Gay looks back over Nigel Pearson’s managership at Bristol City after defeat at Barnsley

<p>Nigel Pearson has been in charge for almost 12 months, but some fans are questioning if there has been progress. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)</p>

Nigel Pearson has been in charge for almost 12 months, but some fans are questioning if there has been progress. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Arriving on an interim contract, many people were surprised when Nigel Pearson, after a poor run of results in 2020/2021 season was awarded a three-year contract, although many blamed our horrendous injury situation.

Talk of a three-year plan followed which would include six transfer windows. It is a case of two down and four to go with the next one commencing in June 2022 which is fewer than three months away.

Should Pearson be trusted to deliver that? Well, based purely on his record, the answer is no.

Supporters have heard ‘we are where we are and we know where we are’ from Pearson on numerous occasions, too often after a defeat some confronted Pearson who was understanding of their opinion, indeed, agreed with most of it following defeat at Barnsley.

I rarely disagree with Pearson’s post-match comments, however what I don’t see or hear is a solution to the same reoccurring problems. It is like déjà vu all over again or even a broken record.

Of course, there are better performances but some might say a broken watch is right twice a day.

A defeat to Barnsley in midweek brought up questions of where Bristol City are going under Pearson. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

So, how do we assess where City are?

Firstly, we look at Pearson’s record last season after Dean Holden was fired and Paul Simpson and Keith Downing leading City to a 3-1 away win at the Riverside with both men leaving the club the following season.

This season, Pearson’s record makes for better reading than last season - but that was a low watermark in the club’s recent history and Pearson himself said that if the season had been a month longer, we’d have gone down:

P38 W12 D7 L19 GD -20 Pts 43

His record, since taking over, would put most Championship managers under huge pressure, in fact, let’s not mince words here, he’d be gone albeit you don’t get that sense around Ashton Gate or in the boardroom even after he and Jon Lansdown appeared to have different views on how well the club should be doing.

P52 W14 D10 L28 GD-27 Pts 52 out of 156

One school of thought oft heard goes like this: “You can’t blame Pearson. He’s had no money to spend, had to let players go.” Some fans also blame Lee Johnson, Jon or Steve Lansdown with whom final responsibility must lay as as they appointed Mark Ashton, Johnson and Holden.

Pearson seems to be in the enviable situation of being responsible when we win whilst ‘the situation’ is to blame when we lose at least in the minds of some City fans.

Pearson’s poor record and City’s position in the table is a matter of fact, however the interpretation from different supporters is widely different.

So, is his record good?

No, it’s not.

Have our performances improved?

Yes, at home from the win against Barnsley on October 30 which was a damn close-run thing at 2-1 with many supporters telling me after the game that Barnsley should have won.

No, away from home with a host of unacceptable performances that I’ll list. I’ve followed City for over fifty years and believe me, I’ve seen us lose on plenty of occasions. There are acceptable ways to lose a game often based on bad luck or a refereeing decision even an outstanding goalkeeping display.

Bad performances away include at Sheffield United, Fulham, Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and, more recently, Barnsley.

Other performances at Luton and Swansea City away, plus Coventry City and Huddersfield Town at home were decent in part but saw avoidable defeats, and you can add Forest at home to that with two ridiculous late goals.

It is no surprise when City can’t match Fulham in particular or other Year 1 & 2 ‘Parachute Clubs’, but one wonders why City’s record doesn’t match Luton (8th), Blackburn (4th) QPR (5th) Coventry (10th), Millwall (11th) & Huddersfield (3rd), for example?

Blackpool have taken four points off Fulham despite having only two shots on target over both games. Huddersfield are a massive twenty points ahead of City with a game in hand.

Those clubs also have a clear playing style or ‘identity’ as it’s called today normally created to fit the coaches ‘philosophy or winning mentality’ - I genuinely don’t see that at City.

Clearly it isn’t just money because West Bromwich Albion sit 12th six points off the play offs and Sheff Utd 7th one point off sixth place - both after early season managerial changes.

I fully expect City to stay up if they can gather a bare minimum of six points more (they may already be safe now) but that’s no achievement.

I also expect that Pearson will lead City into next season (2022/2023) although there can be no doubt that our recruitment will have to be significantly better than last summer if we are to once again, survive, as a Championship club.