Sky Sports pundit Keith Andrews believes Bristol City’s players are “soft” and doubts whether they can handle working with Nigel Pearson.
The Robins have lost eight of their past 12 games as a lost season for the club drifts joylessly to an end.
That poor form has not stopped owner Steve Lansdown awarding Pearson, who has just two wins to his name since taking charge in February, with a three-year contract and a mandate to rebuild.
City have 13 players out of contract in the summer, and Andrews believes Pearson could be minded to let them all leave Ashton Gate.
But former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Andrews doubts whether City’s dressing room can handle Pearson’s character.
“He would probably take them all and press that reset button and wipe the slate clean,” Andrews said on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast.
“He was very damning of the players, questioning their character. Really poor and you’re looking for a reaction on the pitch and it’s not there.
“You put difficult circumstances in front of the players and they can’t quite deal with them.
“I remember Nigel Pearson going into Watford and Watford players speaking about how honest he was, telling them the truth. He’s that type of fella.
“I’m not so sure Bristol City’s dressing room can deal with that, because I do think they are a tad on the soft side.”
Andrews says Pearson must be given time to rebuild, given the surgery needed on the squad in the upcoming transfer window.
“I do think they need to press the reset button,” the Irishman said. “If they’re giving him a three-year contract, they’ve got to trust him to go and do it his way.
“There is no point in Bristol City allowing him to sign 10-12 players, because that’s what it probably will be in the summer with the amount out of contract, and not letting him see it through. There’s no point in six or nine months and pressing the reset button again, there has to be logic, there has to be a process to what they’re going to do and he’s got to be entrusted to do that.
“He’s got a lot of experience, he does things in his own particular way, which I quite like at times, he ruffles a few feathers and I think that’s needed, but equally you have to treat players slightly differently now to what you did five, 10, 15, 20 years ago. There has to be a balance struck and the character that he’s talking about has to be harnessed from the management team.”
Andrews believes there is huge potential Pearson can unlock at Ashton Gate if he succeeds in the rebuild project.
“Bristol City is a brilliant, brilliant football club and they have underachieved,” he continued.
Sign up for our City newsletter
All the latest news, views, interviews, gossip and analysis concerning Bristol City, delivered straight to your inbox, every day at 12:00.
It’s completely free and you can sign up HERE
“I cannot believe they haven’t made that step into the play-offs over the past two or three seasons, because everything is there for me.
“When I go there I see a Premier League club in waiting, with the infrastructure and finances they have.
“It’s run quite well but they haven’t been able to get over the line and get in the play-offs and start building towards that next step.”