Should Nigel Pearson be doing better? Bristol City fan’s verdict on ‘poor season’
BristolWorld fan columnist Ian Gay says too many lacklustre performances under boss Nigel Pearson means he will not relax until the side reaches 50 points
Let’s be honest, this has been a poor season for a club with Premier League ambitions.
Last season took a heavy toll on the club not the least financially and Bristol City report ‘extremely serious losses’ for 2020/21 financial year">the accounts were, as Steve Lansdown had advised, horrific. That was partly down to Covid lockdown and an empty stadium - however, that wasn’t the full story.
A spiralling wage bill and increasing debt principally to majority shareholder Lansdown, who also guarantees the club’s significant overdraft, made for some painful reading.
The three year plan
We’re told that we have a three-year plan that leads us into the promised land but those better versed than me with all things Bristol City over decades are telling me that we haven’t a hope in hell or moving from where we are to the Premier League.
There are allowances against the £39m three-year allowable loss under Financial Fair Play such as loss of commercial revenue, ticketing, the academy, infrastructure and women’s football but 2022/23 could be squeaky bum time from a financial standpoint hence Nigel Pearson’s oft repeated ‘we are where we are’.
So let’s take a look at exactly where that is, albeit one thing Pearson has succeeded in is lowering the fanbase’s expectations to embrace survival as some sort of achievement.
I’m told part of City’s loss has been generated by 3,000 season ticket holders failing to renew - 1,700 of which had held season tickets for over seven years and the offer of more of the same obviously didn’t appeal to them and neither will it bring them back.
There won’t be a post lockdown “bounce back” this summer
The fanbase seem to have three opinions on Nigel Pearson from what I read and hear:
- He hasn’t had any money and he was forced to release good players so what do you expect? The damage was done before he arrived and it was all Mark Ashton’s/ Lee Johnson’s/ Steve Lansdown’s fault so he can only do his best. This probably covers about 60%
- He’s been unsuccessful. His record since arrival is unacceptable and he should resign or be sacked. Look at what Cooper’s done at Forest or Coventry or Boro under Wilder. Why haven’t we done that? 10/15%
- He should be doing better with what’s at his disposal and there’s no excuse. We’ve got some good players, the squad’s better than many clubs above us. 20/25%
Nigel Pearson’s league record:
P45 W12 D10 L23 F58 A79 GD -21
Our home current form is good but our away record, which has been good in recent seasons is in tatters despite one or two decent performances, City’s inability to defend crosses has undone some excellent work from the likes of Massengo, Weimann and Kalas.
Our Recent Away Form
We haven’t won away since October 2 against Posh, and we had to score three to win that.
P9 W0 D2 L7 F10 A26 GD-16
Average goals against almost three per game.
Injuries are again proving a significant obstacle with only Weimann of the summer signings looking like real value for money.
It’s better than last season when, at one point, we had twenty players injured with, I think, nine hamstring injuries amongst them, but with Pearson’s preferred option of a smaller squad, having five or six out equates to 25% of our first team that already contains many young players.
Those younger players have been a silver lining this season but without success in the form of play off or promotion, those players will be snapped up by Premier League clubs if they perform, albeit the club have done well to secure Scott, Semenyo, Pring and Benarous on long-term deals which should at least guarantee a sizeable fee when, not if, they move on.
The major contractual issue is Massengo - City can’t afford to let him, ala Diedhiou and Walsh, run down his contract so it’s sign or sell in the summer, no doubt with his agent requiring a release clause similar to Josh Brownhill’s when he left for Burnley.
Before this weekend’s game against Swansea, City sit 16th, 17 points clear of Peterborough on twenty points with three games in hand.
Do I think we’ll be relegated this season? No, but without points deductions, Derby would be two points above us and Reading nine points below us with two games in hand so I won’t relax until we’ve got fifty points on the board.
Ian Gay’s column follows Paul Binning’s more positive review of Bristol City’s season, published earlier this week.