Attitude Adjustment

Discussion in 'Bristol City' started by wizered, Sep 26, 2021.

  1. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    Pearson's criticism proves relevant as Bristol City show where there's a Williams there's a way
    Bristol City rode their luck at times, including with Kasey Palmer's equaliser, but this team are increasingly showing why old fashioned values can breed positive results

    If there was an abiding image from this game, it wasn’t Kasey Palmer’s expertly extended right leg to divert the ball into the roof of the net, it was the sight of half the Bristol City team collapsing to the turf having exerted every last drop of energy.

    If Luton Town 10 days ago was a 1-1 draw that felt like a defeat, this was the same scoreline but with all the adrenaline rush of a victory due to the effort, application and just the sheer ability to remain in the game against probably the Championship’s best attack.

    Yes, Fulham could and should have put the game to bed and who knows what happened to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s bearings in the final few moments as the division’s premier striker spurned three opportunities. And we all know deep down that Palmer was offside.

    But at no stage did the Robins look beaten in this game and the mental strength, belief and will to claim a point from what appeared, at around the 77 minute mark when Neeskens Kabano bore down on Dan Bentley’s goal, a lost cause is a huge indicator of where this team is at.

    Attitude adjustment
    He didn’t really expand on it when asked to, for obvious reasons, but there was a pertinent statement made by Pearson in assessing the attitude that enabled City to draw, in a match that was in danger of getting away from them.

    “They’re a tighter group than I’ve seen here,” Pearson said. “When I’ve come here in the past as either a manager or a player, I wouldn’t expect the tenacity that we’re showing now.”

    It may be a tough read for some fans, and is also a bit of a sweeping generalisation, but City, certainly since returning to the Championship, have had a reputation of being a little too nice/soft; a welcoming stadium, great facilities, beautiful part of the world but not the right level of nastiness or inner steel to get over the line.

    That was also the feedback the club encountered when interviewing candidates for the manager’s post in the summer of 2020.

    When Pearson talks about cultural change, it’s about altering and developing mindsets; City are now hard to beat, and that is because they collectively have a toughness, resilience and fortitude never to stop going.

    We’re only nine games into the Championship season but it’s hard to see this team losing too many matches by a significant margin. They’ve quickly developed an ability to always remain in a contest.

    That might be sometimes down to Dan Bentley’s goalkeeping – as was the case at QPR and at times against Fulham, in particular when he saw the whites of Kabano’s eyes – but it goes beyond just the goalkeeper’s resistance.

    George Tanner thundered into tackles in the first half and was constantly on the toes of the opposition as they appeared to target his right flank during the opening 30 minutes.

    Tomas Kalas, as we know, and Rob Atkinson throw everything at the ball, whenever it’s their jurisdiction and then further up the field Andi Weimann and Nahki Wells were accelerating to press defenders, and while Chris Martin may not possess express pace, he still finds space and a way to chase down balls into the channel.

    City make the opposition work, whoever it may be, and in the first half they rendered Fulham’s possession largely meaningless, with the exception of the odd long shot or dangerous cross that wasn’t connected.

    And when Mitrovic scored, with Fulham having started the half with a bang, heads never dropped, belief didn’t waver and gradually City worked their way into a position to put the pressure back on the Cottagers leading to Palmer’s goal.

    Andi Weimann – a man of many positions
    Not to hold this against Pearson but when specifically asked in midweek if he would like to play Nahki Wells, Andi Weimann and Chris Martin in the same team he insisted he wouldn’t change his system to accommodate them all.

    Now, you could make a case that didn’t happen yesterday given Weimann moved to the right side of midfield, moving Wells alongside Martin for his first start of the season, but there was much more going on with City in possession than a customary 4-4-2. Something did change.

    Off the ball, Weimann was stationed in front of George Tanner, but when City had their moments of possession, the Austrian moved much further up the pitch and in a slightly more central area, not unlike when Han-Noah Massengo plays right midfield, just in a more advanced sense.

    There were certain periods of play when one of Wells or Martin would come deep, and Weimann would then run a route almost like a NFL wide receiver – starting on the outside and then cutting infield to occupy the position of striker.

    It didn’t work all the time, in fact you could make the case that as a trio there was more failure than success, given the connectivity wasn’t quite there which, given it’s the first game together, is understandable.

    But Weimann’s USP is that you can be flexible during a game and he will slot into any position or role as you wish.

    Which proved the case when Pearson introduced Joe Williams, Nathan Baker and then Kasey Palmer, moving to a 3-5-2 and shifting the Austrian to a very advanced right wing-back – a position that has been filled at various times this season by Tanner, Antoine Semenyo and now Weimann.

    In fact, City’s right flank has been a curious place over these first nine games with Massengo and Alex Scott also playing out of position down that wing. It will be fascinating to see exactly who turns up there next.

    Returning to Weimann, once moved properly out to the flank it stretched open the field, allowed Williams to step forward and gave Wells and Martin a little more space, plus gave the Robins a constant outlet, pinning Antonee Robinson back, who had attacked freely in the first half.

    Wells brings something extra
    There’s a strong case to be made that Wells was City’s best player, albeit within a debate that should also include Bentley, Tomas Kalas and maybe even Joe Williams, with no right or wrong answer.

    He’s had to bide his time and has obviously had to convince Pearson far beyond scoring the winner at QPR last weekend, putting in the work on the training ground and, if anything, we were given a clue prior to kick-off when the manager said: “Hopefully Nahki does what he does best and that's score goals but also be a threat to defenders when they're in possession.”

    The second part was absolutely crucial because Fulham had to be pressed constantly and maybe, just maybe Wells hasn’t done enough so far in a City shirt to convince his manager he can do that.

    Well, he certainly did yesterday. Always on the move and making Fulham hurry their possession from the back.

    And then when City did have the ball, the Bermudian was always trying quick and clever little runs into open areas and then trying to knit things together with Weimann and Martin.

    As mentioned above, it often didn’t come together but the willingness to try and make something happen was always there.

    You could also say the same for the chances he did miss – the close-range miskick from Kalas’ long throw, the header over from the Czech’s brilliant cross and then shot that Gazzaniga tipped over that eventually led to the equaliser.

    He made the runs and gave his teammates a target for all those opportunities, even if he was unable to trouble the scoresheet.

    It’s great to see a striker work hard but it’s concerning when they don’t get chances to score. Wells ticked both boxes and if they continue, along with consistency in his first obligation enabling him to stay in the team, City will surely soon have a more consistent source of goals.

    What's more is that two players previously on the periphery and potentially feeling a little marginalised made major impacts. When Pearson has spoke of grumpy players, it's hard to think who else that could apply to other than Wells and Palmer.

    And yet he's been true to his word by rewarding their patience and hard work with minutes, and they've responded in kind. It again reinforces the tight collective ethic Pearson is breeding.

    Tanner learns on the job
    Four weeks ago George Tanner was playing for Carlisle United against Leyton Orient in League Two. On Saturday he was up against player who not so long ago were Premier League performers.

    It’s some progress the 21-year-old has made and in just two appearances he’s settled into this City team and the Championship with apparent ease.

    Of course, it hasn’t been easy with all the hard work and dedication to his craft he’s put in, but although he was initially marked out as “one for the future” his time is also now.

    Fulham definitely targeted that flank in the opening exchanges with the ball readily worked out to Bobby Reid who either cut inside onto his right foot to try and shoot, or open up space for Robinson outside him.

    Both scenarios had to make Tanner think whether to stick or twist, follow his man and leave that area vacated or leave Reid and pass him onto a centre-back but then potentially create an overload on the edge of the penalty area.

    Most of the time he got it spot on, and although Robinson and Reid did get shots and crosses into the box they were mostly from areas where they were either speculative or could be defended.

    Tanner’s tackle/interception in the first half drew a huge surge of volume from Ashton Gate as he made the decision to go for the loose ball but if he was late to it, Fulham had a potential 3v1 and an open channel to exploit.

    He got there a fraction ahead of Robinson, sliding in to win the ball, leave the Fulham man sprawling and even though it then ended up at Robinson’s feet, Tanner completed the job to win a secondary tackle.

    And that encapsulated his afternoon until he was replaced as Pearson changed formation and looked to force the issue: tenacity and razor sharp decision making.

    He constantly had to think on his feet and adjust to what Fulham were trying to do down that side of the field and more times than not he got it bang on.

    Williams pushes for start
    Massengo should have been a huge miss for City. Not only is he one of the club’s most in-form players but his energy and dynamism would have been a potent weapon against a Fulham midfield who like to try and move the ball quickly between the lines.


    Matty James, especially, and Tyreeq Bakinson put in a shift but neither have the same ground speed or pester the opposition with such frequency as the Frenchman.


    But they did create a structure for which it was tough for the Cottagers to play through at times, as City locked their midfield and defence together and Fulham were asked to try and thread eyes of needles.


    Mitrovic’s goal opened things up and that led to further chances for Fulham but with no Massengo, Pearson needed another type of central midfield to try and get the Robins playing on the front foot.


    Andy King has been a go-to player for the manager but this wasn’t the right situation for calm and composed control.

    And so emerged Williams, replacing Bakinson as Fulham’s early second-half salvo got the better of him, and the 24-year-old flicked a switch in the City team.

    City suddenly weren’t so square when the ball was in midfield and, yes, perhaps that was a symptom of the general flow of the game as it opened up, but Williams constantly looked to move forward, either by travelling with the ball or playing it wide.

    He was only on the field for 27 minutes but his 23 pass attempts were more than four other starters – Weimann, Wells, Tanner and Pring – level with Bakinson and only one shy of Kalas.

    What’s more he was successful with 82.6% of them, an accuracy rate only bettered by Kalas who, with respect, made less high-risk passes.

    Nobody will be more frustrated with how the last 12 months have gone than Williams, who’s had injury issue after injury issue and desperately tried to get himself fit.

    Factor in moving to a new club, from outside his native north west, during a pandemic and with his mate Liam Walsh leaving in the summer, it can’t have been an easy time for him, spending all that time in rehab unable to show his talent on a consistent basis.

    With Massengo potentially out for up to two weeks, as Pearson implied before the game, City need a dynamic box-to-box central midfielder who can shield the defence, use the ball well and also link the various areas of the pitch.

    Looks like they’ve found one.
    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/bristol-city-nigel-pearson-williams-5971166
     
    #1
  2. oneforthebristolcity

    oneforthebristolcity Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Pearsons take on the game 100%. some might not!! :emoticon-0103-cool:
     
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  3. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    I could see from the patterns of play just how much we missed Massengo yesterday, with him back and a fit Williams a few of those gaps could well be filled, I think Wells did well., you can see a vast improvement in team style, effort, physique and moral, they weren't going to be pushed around by anyone and mutual support was there for all to see, this team has controlled agression and they are not sorry about it.

    It was a joy and a change to see it, we are on the right road back.
     
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  4. RedorDead

    RedorDead Well-Known Member

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    It’s going to be a good problem to have if Williams stays fit and HNM returns. Who goes right, and then who drops out of Wells, Martin and Weinmann.
    The report was spot on, it all changed when Williams came on. And that tackle was just like he used to always do against us for Wigan. Also Tanners tackle showed he’s not going to be phased.
     
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  5. bcfcredandwhite

    bcfcredandwhite Well-Known Member

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    ‘Palmer was offside…’
    I need to re-learn the offside rule! I posted this on OTIB:

    Didn’t their keeper play him back on from the original save? I thought that if the ball came off an opposition player then you were no longer offside? Van Nistelrooy made a rather successful career from that type of poaching.
    have the rules changed or do I simply not understand them?
    Forget it - just found out that a keeper save doesn’t count.
     
    #5
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
  6. Red Robin

    Red Robin Well-Known Member

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    Thought he had a excellent debut at Ashton Gate-good future ahead of him.
     
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  7. Supcon72

    Supcon72 Well-Known Member

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    I was sat in the Dolman on Sat, so saw Tanner close up first half. My assessment, he gave a good account of himself on debut. Remember he was in L2 last season and most of the team he faced were in the PL!

    PROs
    He loves a tackle
    A good engine on him
    He will improve

    CONs
    Needs to work on his position in a back 3
    Needs to improve his distribution significantly
     
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    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
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  8. Supcon72

    Supcon72 Well-Known Member

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    This reporter watched a different Bakinson and structure to the one I saw on Sat. We got opened up through the middle every time Fulham took that route, especially in the first half.....
     
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