Bristol City's Matthew Bates admits he feared the worst when Derek McInnes was sacked
Matthew Bates was afraid he would be left high and dry without a club when Bristol City sacked Derek McInnes as manager in January.
McInnes was dismissed following a humiliating 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Leicester on January 12 – just 48 hours before Bates was due to pen a contract until the end of the season.
The Stockton-born centre-back admits he feared the worst when McInnes left and was replaced by Sean O’Driscoll, especially when he was struck down by a virulent stomach bug before he even had an opportunity to show the new head coach what he could do.
Speaking for the first time since being offered a contract until the end of the season, Bates told The Post: “It was a difficult situation when the manager went. I’d spoken to him on the Saturday and arranged to come in on the Monday morning and sign a contract.
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“By the time I got home that evening, Derek had lost his job and everything had changed.
“I spoke to Sean O’Driscoll a few days later and he told me he would have to look at me in training before making a decision. It was a difficult situation for both of us, but I understood where he was coming from.
“The same day I spoke to the new gaffer, I also went down with gastroenteritis and ended up being bed-ridden for two weeks.
“At that stage, I was worried I’d spend the rest of the season in limbo without a club. Most clubs have a full squad and have spent their budget at this stage of the season and the timing of the whole thing could have been better. But that is how football works and you just have to get your head up and work hard.”
In need of central defensive cover and unable to find a suitable replacement for the injured Louis Carey in the emergency loan market, O’Driscoll offered Bates a short-term deal until the end of the season.
The former Middlesbrough man has been on the bench for recent games against Barnsley, Blackpool and Brighton and is providing competition for Lewin Nyatanga and Liam Fontaine.
Bates said: “Fortunately, the gaffer was prepared to wait for me and, once I got back fit, he must have seen something in me, because he offered me a contract.
“I’ve been training for four or five weeks now and I’m enjoying being a part of the new regime. Sean O’Driscoll has not spoken to me about my situation long-term, because he is a team manager and speaks to the team rather than to individuals.
“Everything he does is about the team and being organised as a group. It is credit to him that it is working, but also credit to the players.”