Every word Nigel Pearson said in Bristol City press conference ahead of Man City FA Cup tie

Nigel Pearson spoke to BristolWorld, BristolLive as well as other outlets about various topics
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson met the local and national press on Monday afternoon ahead of their FA Cup tie with Manchester City on Tuesday night.

The Robins boss discussed various topics, such as comparisons between Anis Mehmeti and Riyad Mahrez, as well as hoping with Erling Haaland and Max O’Learys new deal. Here’s what he had to say to BristolWorld’s Joe Dixon, as well as journalists from other outlets.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

How can you beat Man City? We just need to play at our best. I don’t really think we’re going to end up playing any different to how we always play. I would expect us to have long spells without the ball but that happens in quite a few games we play anyway. It’s just the way that we play and when you play against sides that Manchester City have. They are one of the best sides of the world, there is no point worrying too much about that, we’ve got to be as good as we can be. We’ve got to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. We’ll need to play very well.

How will younger players cope? We’ll see how they are today, we’re training this afternoon. First and foremost we’ll be looking to see how players have recovered from the weekend. It will be the same process, it’s not going to be anything other than preparation for a game, who is available and who needs a bit more TLC today, but it’s about trying to make sure we give ourselves a good chance of playing at our max. It’s all we can strive to do is play at our max. I want our young players to enjoy the opportunity of playing against such a good side. Bottom line is I want us to be us and play with the same sort of energy levels that we’re capable of, that’s the big thing.

Team news? We’ve got the two lads cup tied; Harry and Anis will be cup tied, which presents a starting slot for somebody else. Everyone else from the weekend, we didn’t really pick anything up from the weekend which is a positive. We’ll have maybe four players on the bench from the academy that people won’t have seen because we’ll take that opportunity to fill those spaces with young players to get some experience of a big game environment, why not?

Is it about Pep Guardiola against Nigel Pearson?

It’s us against them, it’s not about managers, and it’s not about me. The important thing here is that we’ve won two cup ties and gained an exciting tie against a top side. Outside of that, it helps us as a football club, cup games are a chance of earning some revenue. That’s the reality of where we are. I think it’s also an occasion that our fans will enjoy, they will only enjoy it if we play well and cause them problems. This is not anything other than an opportunity to get the best performance we can get out of our own players. Outside of that I don’t see anything out of that being particularly important. We’ve worked hard to go 12 games unbeaten and we needed a good run. We’ll be fighting as hard as we can to keep that going.

Comaprisons between Anis Mehmeti and Riyad Mahrez

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They’re very different, but what is similar is when you get players that excite supporters then that is a real added bonus to any side. I think it would be a silly comment for me to sort of compare them but it’s always good to have players in your team that actually excite your fanbase. I think whenever those players receive the ball, there is an expectation even if things aren’t going well on the day that something may change. It’s always a positive thing to have, when you try and construct a squad or a team, it’s nice to have different types of players within that squad with any given team.

Does it effect you that Manchester City can rotate?

Not really because whoever plays they will be on paper much better than us. Why worry about something like that? I’m not going to second guess what their side will be, whoever plays will be a very good starting 11.

Can we expect to see you bring out the dance moves if you win?

I doubt it! I very much doubt it, I don’t like being caught doing stuff like that. It’s not for your ears I am afraid. I used to be a long time ago (a ball-room dancer). I probably wouldn’t do no, not now you’re all watching!

Magic of the FA Cup?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I think the domestic cup competitions are always going to be important. I’ve been lucky enough to play in the winning side of the League Cup. The FA Cup is the one which still has a mystery about it and is also traditional too. There have been times where it’s appeared some of the big clubs have not been as keen to keep the tradition going but that has gone full circle. If you look at both competitions now, they are an opportunity to win a trophy, they are very important. I think the FA Cup will always be the premier domestic cup competition, it’s something that I think fans look forward to.

What would it mean to beat Manchester City?

We’ll have to wait and see. It will be sensational if something like that happens of course. They are an outstanding team and squad of players with an elite manager who is up there with the very best. We’ll see what happens, I want us to be as good as we can be on the night. It’s really the main aim for us to perform as well as we can. For some of our players who have earned the opportunity to play against such a good team, a chance for them to see how good they can be on the night.

A big opportunity for Alex Scott...

It is but it is for all of our players. But Alex Scott it is his second season, he’s been one of our best performers over the two years. At 19, he has really developed hugely over the last two seasons, I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to the game.

And how will he cope against the stars of Man City? Hopefully very well. Technically he is a really good player. it’s very difficult for me to give you an answer that is going to be accurate because the reality is we don’t know. I think he is capable of playing in the Premier League for sure, and he is certainly a bright prospect.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

How has he dalt with speculation? He’s very mature, he’s very measured and he’s got a good sense of humour too. I think those types of qualities are also what sets top players apart. I don’t have any doubts that he will go and play at the top but he’s dealt with it okay so far, and if he doesn’t his teammates will bring him into line, don’t worry about that.

Worried about whether a good performance from Alex Scott could mean a move away?

No. No. It’s not a very well-kept secret anyway? He’s been performing very well now this season and last season. For a teenager to go out there and be one of the best players over a sustained period of time, even if it hasn’t been reported in the national press, clubs will be very well aware of what he is. We want to keep our best players wherever possible, it becomes increasingly difficult when players play at the sort of levels he has over a sustained period.

A new contract for Max O’Leary...

He’s had over the last seasons, last season he had a spell of about 12-14 games in the side. He did pretty well and pushed on again this year. I’m really pleased with how he has taken the opportunity and he deserves a new deal and it also gives him the chance to really push on and establish himself as a number one. It’s the big thing, his presence for us has been very positive within the side. He’s had a good season.

Are there any unsung heroes tha deserve to play?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I just want all of our players and enjoy it for what it is. The ones who start the game are selected because we think they should be in the team, it is as simple as that. I would imagine for people like Nahki Wells and Matty James, who are more senior players, that it’s a stage for them to show what they are about too. We will only have an opportunity to do something special if the whole team plays at its max and they are not at their best. The big thing for me is I am really hopeful our players look forward to our challenge and go out there and play with the same sort of character and commitment that we’ve had over the last weeks. It is the big thing that has changed our fortunes and collectively we’ve been very good.

Can Zak Vyner deal with Erling Haaland?

I think whoever plays against Haaland in for a night for where they’ve got to be at their absolute best. He’s already proved what a good finisher he is but a tremendous athlete too.

I’m sure Zak will continue to do what he has done all season and that is be very visible for us. Zak has had a very good season so far. I’m sure he’ll look forward to the challenge.

Is Tomas Kalas ready for a game like this?

We’ll find out. He’s an experienced performer, he’s an international too. He’s played at a level where he knows what he’s good at himself. I would expect him to use his experience like he did at the weekend to fill in the spaces of any potential gaps that there might be in his game. I think that’s what experienced players do, they are able to make adjustments because they understand their own game. he like everyone else has to be at the top end of his game. With any experienced player, I think it’s really important they are able to lean on those past experiences to help them through. The big thing for us in a game like this, we can have individuals who play very well but the most important thing is that the collective effort is visible too.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When you play against top sides that’s what you need to do, you need to try and add a different element by being as a team very difficult to play against, both in and out of possession. It’s not just about us defending against them, we’ve been a very effective counter-attacking side this season, we will need to convert chances that come our way, we probably won’t create as many chances as we normally would and so when chances come our way we need to be clinical.

Whether his players will press high to retrieve possession

You only press high when you’ve got a chance of winning the ball. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it’s the whole emphasis, you press when you think you’ve got a chance of getting the ball. When you play against sides who have greter techical ability, the decision making has to be right. I certainly don’t want to stop our players from being themselves. What is important when we do something we are all doing it.

Importance of the fans

Our crowd have been very important to us all season. We’ve had a bit of a mixed bag, they’ve always stayed behind the team. We need to give them the type of performance that they believe in again. I think we’ve done that relatively consistently. I hope they enjoy it for what it is, hopefully a good cup atmosphere that they create a positive environment for us. As always we have to give them something to get behind and that is our intention.

Where he was when the draw was made:

No not really. As much as anything, it’s a type of tie that is great for the club. Once you’ve got a home tie against a club like Man City, you know more or less it is going to be a full house. We’ve had some difficult times and as everybody knows about the financial side of football at the minute, you couldn’t get a better tie for clubs who have had difficulties where we’ve been very careful to come back in to line to meet Financial Fair Play regulations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All these types of things, a Cup tie like this guarantees revenue which is very welcome. I just think it’s a good tie for people to get excited about, what it does do from a realistic perspective it probably makes the odds a bit longer progressing to the next round, but so what! Let’s enjoy it for what it is.

Any message in particular to younger players?

Our preparation and the way we approach the game will be the same as any. I don’t see any reason to start thinking too differently about that. How you deal with anybody who is selected to play is you’ve got to judge where they are at. Some players need some extra encouragement and some just need reassurance, and some need nothing. It depends on the individual and so don’t make the assumption senior players and young players are massively different in that. There are occasions that what you wouldn’t expect is needed. We as staff will be to just approach it in the same way and that will give us as much preparation as we can to give the players the best chance of performing, it’s all you an ever do. One of the worst things you can do is over-egg it and give too much information.

Message to the fans

Get behind the team, enjoy it. Let’s see what happens!

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.