Nigel Pearson’s frank admission after Bristol City’s loss to Sunderland
‘If we concede goals like we have today, throughout the season, we’re gonna have a tough season.’
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The Robins went a goal down after just four minutes after a long range Ellis Simms strike, following a mistake from Kal Naismith. Andi Weimann hit back moments later to draw the game level at the break.
Pearson’s side have conceded five goals in their opening two fixtures, a record that needs addressing after conceding so many in the previous campaign.
“Look, two games in, we’ve conceded five goals. I could argue last week we were unlucky, I can’t argue that this week,” he said.
“The first is an individual mistake, the second one we’ve got a throw-in and they score a goal from our throw-in… Some really poor defensive work. And the third one, it’s just too easy for them.
“Even when they’ve scored the third, we’ve still had chances and opportunities to get back in but we’ve been unable to take them so it’s a frustration. But, two games in and we concede five goals, we’re giving ourselves far too much to do in games.”
The 58-year-old also wasn’t shy about the consequences if his side don’t improve their defensive record quickly.
“It’s not a day where I make excuses or look for positives that aren’t there. If we concede goals like we have today, throughout the season, we’re gonna have a tough season.”
Their defensive fragility is far from a new problem, last season Pearson’s side conceded 77 goals in 46 league games - the third highest in the division.
They have since recruited at the back in the form of Naismith, although he was at fault for the opener.
The manager, though, didn’t want to talk about whether the personnel was the issue, despite City last making a signing over a month ago.
He said: “Now’s not the time for me to talk about that. I’m here today to talk about what happened today, I’m not here to talk about whether we can do anything to improve ourselves.
“We’ve made additions in the summer and I’m pleased with the players that we’ve brought in, but unfortunately we’re still making similar mistakes in games, and it’s costing us very dear still.”
Despite City’s vulnerability at the back, their attacking players once again looked sharp - in particular Weimann.
The Austrian netted his teams first and created the second to add to his goal against Hull last week, and Pearson was complimentary of his side’s attacking threat.
“We’ve created enough opportunities to get something out of the game, but unfortunately we’ve scored two goals at home and still haven’t got anything,” he said.
“The big thing for us is our defensive frailty, and that’s the problem.”
On a day that many Robins fans were hopeful for a victory, the combination of a sell out crowd at Ashton Gate and Flag Day led to an electric atmosphere inside the stadium.
In what was a big opportunity to make a positive start at home, Pearson was frustrated that his side couldn’t use the fans to their advantage.
He said: “Really good, really good (crowd) and we had a chance to showcase what we’re about - but we missed the opportunity I’m afraid.”