Nigel Pearson has opened up about how his “survival mode” ensured Bristol City maintained a sense of togetherness during the difficult run of results towards the end of last year that could well have cost the Robins manager his job.
City’s comeback, stretching to nine games unbeaten before a game against relegation-threatened Wigan on Wednesday night, has been impressive. It seemed a long way back for the manager when pressure was intensified by a minority of supporters calling for him to be sacked after the loss to West Brom on Boxing Day.
As the manager himself suggested in Thursday’s press conference, the Lansdowns value the opinions of the supporters, but trust Pearson’s process. His patience has been rewarded with this run of form that has lifted them to 13th place in the Championship, 10 points above the last three and seven points below the play-offs.
That union came to the fore in away games after the Baggies’ defeat with hard-fought points at Millwall and Coventry to help lay the foundation for the unbeaten run. There’s no denying that support for the manager was wavering across large sectors, but those performances and results helped lift spirits and added positivity heading into the final three months of the season.
Championship rivals Huddersfield Town named their fourth head coach of the season this week in Neil Warnock, Wigan sacked Kolo Toure after just 58 days in charge, while there have been 17 second-tier managerial changes over the years. throughout the campaign.
Speaking about the pressure and change ahead of tomorrow’s game, Pearson said: “What I have to do is sort of separate myself from how people are feeling because as long as I’m clear about what I’m trying to do and what they’re trying to do Survival mode for me is about everyone pulling in the same direction.
“It’s not about taking chances and trying to survive. Every manager and coach that’s out there, at some point, is going to be in survival mode. But that doesn’t mean when there’s pressure, isolating yourself or anyone else. In my book anyway.
“It’s about trying to bring together what we have in common and working out the important side to try and it’s about buying time.
“Time is one thing you don’t really have much of in the modern game. I can tell you what it feels like to get sacked, not when you don’t expect it, but at certain clubs, they have a system where you’ll replace. That’s fine, no I have no problem with that.”
Pearson referenced his time at Watford, where he was sacked after just 22 games, as a prime example of when owners have a limited threshold when it comes to hiring and firing managers. He added: “I’ve been in places where at Watford I lasted longer than I thought because of Covid, the pandemic stretched my contract a bit more.
“Anyway, I didn’t expect to be there after May and I’m not kidding, it’s a realistic view. When I went in there with Craig (Shakespeare) I said, ‘let’s have some fun’ and I think we did a great job of changing the things.
“You have to understand the kind of environment you come into and what clubs always have to do is ignore my needs as a manager. So when clubs feel it’s in their best interest to make a change, they’ll do it because there’s always a threshold where bettors lose patience or, more importantly, there is a lack of confidence in who is on the bench, once you cross that threshold things will change.
“Every club is different and you have to take everything into account. Never think that it is an easy job for the owners.”
“In this place, for example, our owners here care what the fans think, they care what it means in the public domain and there are other clubs where it is purely commercial. It is very difficult to generalize, but there are many factors.” . which will have an influence on pulling that plug.
“The other big thing is the financial stuff. It depends on the exit clauses and all that kind of stuff. That’s it.”
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