Derek McInnes delighted with the strength of his Bristol City squad
BRISTOL City boss Derek McInnes reckons his squad is as strong as any he has worked with in football management.
McInnes made a name for himself north of the border when he led St Johnstone to promotion from the Scottish First Division and established the Perth outfit in the top flight before he took over at Ashton Gate ten months ago.
He spent his first campaign in England battling relegation in the Championship, finally guiding City to safety in the penultimate game of last season.
But the Scot has undertaken a major rebuilding project during the summer, shipping 11 players out and bringing seven in, and the Robins have made their best start to a campaign in four years.
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"We have more versatility within this squad than any other team I have worked with.
"There is no question of that," said McInnes, who has generated fierce competition for places in every position.
He added: "I left a really well-balanced squad at St Johnstone, with good options at the top-end of the pitch. There was enough experience and we had goals in us.
"I would say I'm now happy we are working towards that sort of scenario here."
McInnes has worked wonders in the transfer market on a limited budget during the close season, recruiting strikers Sam Baldock and Steve Davies, midfielder Jody Morris, left-back Greg Cunningham, right-back Mark Wilson, winger Paul Anderson and goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
He said: "I've probably not had to recruit so many players before, because I've always had a smaller turnover with my squads.
"It was a smaller market to work in at my last club and you have to be really competitive and sharp working down here.
"It is very demanding and you have to make sure you are on the ball with it. There is always someone wanting to pick your pocket and, if you take your eye off the ball for a minute, you can miss out.
"You are never really on holiday because, as a manager, you don't have that luxury."
Although City are by no means the highest payers in the Championship and owner Steve Lansdown, pictured, is serious about complying with the new UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, McInnes has succeeded in selling the club to new players, some of whom had numerous offers on the table.
But the Scot admits landing good players is more difficult south of the border than in Scotland.
He said: "Ordinarily, when good players become available in England, there are other clubs who want them and you can never get all the players you want.
"There will always be someone else willing to pay more and our location sometimes goes against us.
"We all know there are limitations on the financial side and we have to do all we can to pitch our club and make coming here an attractive proposition.
"Players have to know that coming here to further their careers is a good thing.
"As a board of directors and a club, we have tried to identify the deals we can do and, once we have done those, we have moved on to others.
"There have been a lot of upsets and frustrations along the way, but we have worked quietly and diligently and a lot of the things we have tried have come off. We are pleased with the business we have done and, hopefully, that will pay dividends."