Bristol City midfielder Matty James has praised manager Nigel Pearson for his style on and off the pitch in an interview with Bristol Live, as the duo prepare for the upcoming Championship campaign.
James and Pearson spent time together at Leicester City between 2012 and 2015, a successful period in the club’s history that saw the Foxes win promotion to the top tier in 2013/14 and pull off the great escape from relegation the following season, giving them that opportunity to secure the 2015/16 Premier League title under Claudio Ranieri in what was a remarkable campaign.
The 29-year-old secured less and less playing time in the East Midlands as Pearson left and was released by the top-flight side this summer after spending nine years at the club.
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Although he didn’t receive the minutes he craved at the King Power Stadium, he was a regular for Mark Robins’ Coventry City on loan during the second half of last season and helped the Sky Blues to finish in an impressive 16th place following their promotion from League One.
According to the Daily Mail, the Robins, Cardiff and Swansea were all in the running for the central midfielder but chose to link up with his former manager and James had many complimentary things to say about Pearson in an interview with Bristol Live.
Speaking to the outlet, the 29-year-old said: “There was interest from other clubs but with Nigel and the experience he’s got and the relationship we’ve had in those first few years at Leicester, it’s something that I couldn’t ignore.
“One of the key factors was the club as well; Nigel was a factor but also the club and their ambition and the strides that they hopefully want to make for me at 29 that I still want.
“I still need that desire and that in every single game, where it hopefully means something to reach that goal.
“For him (Pearson), the perception of what people think of him wouldn’t bother him.
“He’s a strong character and he knows what he’s good at.
“For me, he has got a softer and gentler side, but it’s a professional line. You wouldn’t want to cross it. That’s all I’ll say on that.
“He has got that in his locker, what people think of him, as well, but he’s a family man and he understands that the players who do have families, he’s around for. His door is always open to go and knock on regardless of an issue that you’ve got.
“He’s very, very good on both sides of the white line.”
Despite once calling a journalist an ostrich, you can tell from the 57-year-old’s Twitter profile that he’s a family man and someone players can come to if they are having off-the-field issues, much like current Charlton Athletic manager Nigel Adkins.
This managerial style, combined with his tactics on the field and recent signings, will only go on to help Bristol City climb up the table after a disappointing last campaign. And let’s be honest, this is much-needed with the Robins failing to win any of their last ten league games.
But if everything clicks next season and they can recruit a striker or two to replace Famara Diedhiou, they could potentially be dark horses next term with financial turmoil spreading through the Championship and embargoes galore.
They just need to brush off their poor form, treat pre-season as a fresh start and from there, not look back.