Derek McInnes confident Bristol City won't be relegated this season
DEREK McInnes last night reassured worried Bristol City supporters that he is the man to lead the club to safety this season.
Under pressure after a poor run of results that has left the Robins fighting for Championship survival, City's manager had a positive message for fans attending the annual meeting at Ashton Gate.
Not only did the Scot promise to steer City clear of the relegation zone, he insisted the team could still achieve a higher position than last season's 20th-place finish.
Answering some testing questions from supporters, McInnes said: "I believed at the start of the season that we could do better than last year and I still believe that.
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"Concerns are there and justifiably so. But I can assure you, this squad will not be involved in a relegation fight at the end of the season.
"I fully believe we will be okay and that we can end up better off than we were last season.
"I would like to think that when January comes and we bring a couple in and move a couple out, we will be in a better position to show our worth.
"We are not doing as well as we know we can. I know we are better than where we are in the table and I am confident we can prove that."
McInnes will be given cash to spend when the January transfer window opens and he again highlighted the need to recruit a right-sided central defender.
He said: "As much as we wanted to improve certain positions last summer, a right-sided centre-back was an important area. I think our failure to get one has undermined a lot of what we have tried to do.
"We have made great efforts to bring people in and I think we have been competitive financially.
"But I understand Financial Fair Play and we cannot afford to overspend."
McInnes revealed he had secured agreement from Championship rivals Leicester City to extend Neil Danns' loan deal for a further month.
He said: "Leicester will have a 24-hour recall clause built in, but this is really good news for us.
"Neil has done very well for us, we want him to stay and Leicester are prepared to let that happen."
McInnes fielded questions on team selection and tactics and defended his decision to leave new signings Sam Baldock and Steven Davies on the substitutes' bench in recent weeks and field just one striker.
He said: "I can guarantee the players who are not in the side at the moment will not haemorrhage money and bleed the club dry.
"We have no one on those wages here now. There are no players on really big money sitting in the stand like there were before. Baldock, Davies, and (Greg) Cunningham are the three players I paid money for and they will all prove their worth.
"Sam did go eight or nine games without scoring a goal. But when we are ready to go 4-4-2, he will be involved.
"I like 4-4-2 and I play it 95 per cent of the time. At my last club, the side was built around a solid back four with the right types and we need that here before we can play with two strikers."
Responding to concerns over the publication this week of a club-record annual loss of £14.4 million, executive director Doug Harman assured supporters measures were already in place to reduce the deficit.
He said: "Clearly the wage bill is much higher than we want it to be. The figures were up to the end of May and we have made great strides to reduce it since then.
"About £16m of last year's wage was spent on players and the bottom line is that needs to come down.
"Staff numbers have reduced since these figures were published and we will continue to bring them down.
"By the end of next season I can guarantee that most of our debt will have been wiped out."
Managing director Jon Lansdown added: "Financial Fair Play will guarantee players will no longer be able to earn what they were previously.
"We have already seen the effect here, because we now have to be more careful about how and where we recruit. We spoke to Kalifa Cisse and Andre Bikey during the summer and their demands were way off what we were able to offer them."