Nigel Pearson might not have been directly involved in Bristol City’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough – but an afternoon meeting with his new squad and a brief half-time team talk still helped inspire the Robins’ win at the Riverside.
Having been appointed as Dean Holden’s successor, Pearson watched his side end a seven-game winless run from the front row of the directors’ box.
He saw his new employers score three goals in the space of 16 first-half minutes thanks to a brace from Famara Diedhiou and a slick finish from Nakhi Wells, and will take charge of his first training session on Wednesday.
He spoke to his squad at their team hotel before the game though, and made a brief appearance in the dressing room at half-time, with his words clearly having the desired impact.
Caretaker boss Keith Downing said: “He was introduced to the players this afternoon at the hotel. He obviously spoke some wise words and wanted the players to show the abilities that they’ve got.
“That’s obviously a fresh pair of eyes and the players have responded really well. Now we have to take that forwards. We’re pleased to have him in the building and I’m sure he’ll be a huge help to us.
“We met him for the first time today, although he came down at half-time and gave some advice to the players as well.
“The work was put in yesterday really, and then we travelled up and played the game. It’s such a quick turnaround that he hasn’t really had much time to work with the team yet.
“There’s quality in the squad. If you look at the full squad, there’s definitely quality there but we have had a horrendous amount of injuries and that has probably told.”
While City were able to halt a dreadful recent run, Middlesbrough saw a two-match winning sequence of their own come crashing to an end.
The Teessiders were ripped apart defensively in the first half and while Dael Fry scored a consolation with 10 minutes left, manager Neil Warnock was left bitterly disappointed by his side’s performance.
Warnock said: “I’m devastated.
“I thought we started the game okay and I still can’t see why Marc Bola has passed instead of shooting when he had a great chance early on.
“Then the next minute, they hoof a ball out and we’ve got three of our best defenders against one striker, and he ends up winning the ball and they score a goal from it.
“I don’t know what to say about it really. If you can’t defend when you’ve got three against one, you’ve got a problem.
“None of them have had the best of nights. I said at half-time, ‘The scoreline is embarrassing’. I thought the attitude was good in the second half at least.”