Nigel Pearson’s candid claim over Han Noah-Massengo’s Bristol City exit as injuries bite

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Han-Noah Massengo was among several players that left Bristol City in January

Nigel Pearson has defended his decision to let Han-Noah Massengo and several other senior first-team players leave Bristol City in January.

Massengo, as well as Chris Martin, Dan Bentley, and Timm Klose, left either towards the end of the transfer window or on deadline day with the wage bill being cut. It further reduced the squad in numbers with Anis Mehmeti, Harry Cornick, and Nikita Haikin their bits of business coming in.

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City have been hit with an injury crisis and are now having to mix and match for the final 11 games of the Championship campaign. Rob Atkinson has been ruled out for the majority of the year whilst Tomas Kalas is out for the next six weeks, which will keep him out for a majority of the end-of-season run-in. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but City were in their quota for the season and could have afforded to keep them on, but that is not something the former Leicester City manager wanted to do.

Massengo returned to France with Auxerre and has found a new lease on life, as he tries to help his loan club avoid the drop from Ligue One. City’s recent visit to the John Smith’s Stadium however brought back a memory to the mind of Pearson, which took place back in May. Massengo had greeted the fans at the full-time whistle in what seemed to be a goodbye to the supporters who had chanted his name for several years.

It did not turn out to be like that, and the 21-year-old who is still contracted to the club until the end of the season had to drop into the Under-21s for game time in a far cry from when he was playing in the Champions League. Despite Massengo’s return to form for Auxerre, his parent club manager backs the decision to let him leave and claimed that the former Monaco midfielder did not want to be at the club.

In a firm tone, he said: "Let me clarify what happened, it was my decision. I wanted them out. Do you think I am going to waste my staff’s time by keeping players in?

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"We played Huddersfield the other night and I remember the last game of the season with Huddersfield with Han-Noah Massengo waving goodbye to everybody. A player doesn’t want to be here, didn’t want to be here. Do you think I am going to waste my staffs time by making them look after a player just on the off chance we might have a few injuries? Not a chance.

"I don’t want players who don’t want to be here. I don’t want players here who don’t offer positive things to the squad. It’s not just the two players we’ve got in coming in January was good business, the players we got out was brilliant business."

The key message throughout Pearson’s tenure has been to reduce the wage bill whilst keeping the team competitive, and he has abided by that remid. City are on course to achieve a higher finish than the 17th and 18th-placed finishes they have recorded under the 59-year-old previously and an FA Cup run which saw them play Manchester City in a money-spinner has helped the finances of the club.

Pearson has stressed however that there was no pressure from the board to get rid of the players that had fallen out of favour under him. City pocketed a transfer fee from Portsmouth for academy graduate Ryley Towler, who was on loan at AFC Wimbledon, and he has been spoken about as someone who could have been useful during the teams current injury crisis.

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City already had a defensive option at the club however but on deadline day they opted to terminate the contract of Timm Klose, who is yet to find a new club. The former Norwich City centre-back joined in January last year but an injury in pre-season and the form of Zak Vyner saw his play time limited.

“I’m really pleased for Ryley,” he said. It’s a great move for him, it’s the type of move he needs. Cam Pring and George Tanner would probably still be ahead of him if he was here.

“Timm Klose, has lost his drive. Chris couldn’t get in the side. Han-Noah Massengo did not want to be here. They are great moves for us, they saved us money and it gets people out of the building who don’t want to be here.

“I got the freedom to keep them if I wanted to, it wasn’t a problem. I didn’t want to keep them, because it wastes my staffs time. I don’t want senior players training with the youngsters either. None of them were disruptive at all, but that was in January. You’ve got to get to May and it’s not a healthy situation.”

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