‘About time, very effective, counterattack’ - Every word Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson said on Sykes, Pring and Birmingham weaknesses
Pearson’s full reaction to Bristol City’s win over the Blues
Bristol City defeated Birmingham City 4-2 on Saturday, as goals from Antoine Semenyo, Nahki Wells, and a brace from Mark Sykes ended the Robins’ run of eight without a win at Ashton Gate.
Here is every word that manager Nigel Pearson said after the victory...
What was your assessment of that one?
“A win that we needed, and it was a good win. I’m pleased, I’m pleased for the players. I thought the atmosphere was good at the ground today, the punters were good. We needed to win, it’s as simple as that.”
You played very much on the front foot with Semenyo and Sykes wide…
“Semenyo wasn’t wide today - Him and Nahki played as a two, Syksey played a bit wider but defensively it was about defending as a front three, with the ball it was about them being positive. It was just a good team performance.”
The first time for Sykes playing in his preferred right-wing position, what did you make of his performance?
“He should be there when he plays as a right wing-back but it gives him more freedom to stay up there. I thought he did it really well - he’s played well all season for us on the right-hand side. Just have to be a little bit further forward today and it means that when the ball is on the left side he can be where he was to score the two goals, but he should be there when he plays at wing-back as well.”
Sykes mentioned that you spoke to him about aiming his forward runs between the goalposts, was that the key for his two goals?
“We got in there (the box) loads of times today. We created lots of good opportunities today and that’s all I can say. It’s more about just winning the game. We’ve had some good performances recently that have not earned us wins but we’ve played tight football and positive football. Today we’ve scored four goals, and we’ve conceded two. The penalty is disappointing and the second we could do better with, but we’ve scored four and could have gotten more. The performance was important today, but the result is the most important thing.”
The run Cam Pring made for Sykes’ first goal is what he’s all about isn’t it with his athleticism?
“If he attacks on the outside, he’s a very, very effective player for us and that’s what we want from him more often than not. Another good performance from him.”
He had the spell out of the side last season, has he developed as a player since then?
“Football management is about dealing with players in the way that you need to. Sometimes players need a rest, a kick up the backside, sometimes they need an arm around the shoulder, but the bottom line is, I don’t have to justify myself why players are picked or not picked. I’ll do what I think is the right thing for the players and for us as a team and Cam’s done exceptionally well in the two seasons, he’s now played for us. Bearing in mind he’s been a player of ours for five years before that and loaned out, he’s come in and he’s done okay but there’s more to come from him. His profile as a player in terms of his physical attributes is very positive, he’s got pace, power, he’s a good athlete and he can be very, very effective so he’s making great progress for us.”
There’s more to come from him, in what regard?
“In every regard. He can be more efficient, he can be a better defender, and he can go on the outside more. Sometimes his first touch takes him inside too often when actually if you’ve got that amount of pace, you should be looking to take the player on the outside. There are always things for players to work at, even the best players in the world have something to work at. Once they think they’re the polished gem then they’re going to go backwards I’m afraid. Every player can get better.”
How did you think Kal Naismith did today playing in midfield?
“We needed to front screen Deeney and I thought he did it very well, you’ve got a player you’re playing against who you know is a good target man. We were the better team and that’s all that matters today. Would I have liked to keep a clean sheet, of course I would. But today was about winning and we won the game so that’s really the most important thing.”
You said today was a must-win game-
“I didn’t say it was a must-win game, but it’s a game that we needed to win. It’s a different thing.”
You said last week was your most difficult time as Bristol City manager, does the win ease that pressure on you?
“What I said is, I might be at my weakest position, but the club is at its strongest position and that remains very much a fact and that is we have a squad which has value. A young squad which is being developed, so the club’s in a very, very healthy position so if I’m not here the club is still in a better position because the squad is worth something and we’re moving in the right direction. Don’t complicate that sort of statement. It’s not a challenge, it’s just a fact. Managers if they’ve got anything about them recognise if they’re at a strong point or a weak point. It doesn’t stop me from working in the way that I work and that is I do what I think is best for the team or the club.”
Team selection for Swansea?
“We’ll go strong, strong as we can. We don’t have a massive squad anyway, so we’ll go strong we want to back a win up with another win. That’s what we want to do.”
Did you identify the flanks as a weak point for Birmingham’s defence?
“We wanted to be positive and on the front foot. That’s a cliché that everybody uses but we are not the best side I the world when we try and soak pressure up. We’re not that type of a side, we have to utilise what one of our biggest strengths is and that is our ability to run. We’ve worked really hard to change the profile of this team from a side that can’t run, and that’s what it was when I arrived here, the fitness stats were woeful, to a side that’s physically fit and is able to do that.
“The most important thing now is that we utilise our strengths and that is we can compete with the best sides in the league physically. Whether we can do that technically is another thing but that doesn’t matter. We’re a good counterattacking side, we’re a good side when we play with a fast tempo, and we need to try and do that every time we play. To be honest, we do try and do that, there have not been too many times where we haven’t done that. Sometimes when we fall short, we fall short because mostly this season we’ve made individual errors, not because we haven’t tried or given everything that we’ve got.”
You needed a home performance really, didn’t you?
“We needed a home result, a home win, we’ve had some good performances you know, Sheffield United, Watford, Swansea, we’ve had some good performances. The win today was the most important thing and we’ve got it. I’m pleased for the fans today, I’m pleased for the fans, and I’m pleased for the players because it allows them to look forward to the next game with positive intent.”
How pleased are you for Sykes with his first goals in a City shirt?
“It’s about time. He’s had some chances. Look he’s a player who’s got goals in him, he’s a really good player, I like him. He’s a player that’s making a step up from League One, we thought he’d be able to make the step up and he’s done it well. He’s played out of position, if people want to call it out of position, I don’t. he’s an intelligent player in loads of different positions. He can play as a wingback, he can play in the no. 10 position he can play as a no. 8, and he can play where he did today as a wide striker. He’s bright enough and he’s got the physical attributes. He’s become a lot stronger since he’s been here, he’s not as slight. He was quite a slight player at Oxford, he’s really filled out quite a bit and he’s a decent footballer. Good for him.”