Steve Lansdown in show of support to Bristol City boss Derek McInnes
BRISTOL City owner Steve Lansdown has pledged his continued support to under-fire manager Derek McInnes.
The Robins are bottom of the npower Championship, following a run of seven straight defeats, and a growing number of City fans are calling for a change of manager.
But millionaire businessman Lansdown has sought to relieve some of the pressure on McInnes by backing him to lead the club to safety for a second successive season.
And not only is City's majority shareholder refusing to make a change, he is also preparing to back the Scot in the transfer market when the window for signings re-opens in January.
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Silent up until now, Lansdown decided to go public in the wake of Sunday's dire 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic.
He said: "Derek has come in to help turn this football club around and a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, with the academy, the under-21 team and management structure.
"We're working forward, we're not looking to change that and we'll keep investing to make it happen.
"We invest in the team and support the manager to do the job and I think we've got those players here – it just has not been happening recently.
"Football is a strange thing. I know we've been here before and recovered, but this certainly is not part of the plan. There's no quick or easy solution, we have to battle through."
Lansdown is essentially a cautious man and he remained patient and refused to bow to pressure from irate fans when previous manager Gary Johnson presided over a nine-game losing sequence that saw the Robins plummet to the foot of League One in 2005.
McInnes succeeded Keith Millen as manager 13 months ago with a remit to keep City in the Championship and Lansdown is prepared to give the former St Johnstone boss more time to effect an upturn in fortunes.
In an unequivocal response to those fans calling for the manager to go, Lansdown said: "We need to keep working hard, keep persevering with what we're doing and kick on.
"I speak on a regular basis with Keith Dawe, the chairman, along with Jon (Lansdown), who is managing director of the football club and Doug Harman (executive director), too. We exchange notes – we're all disappointed and feel we should be doing better. We'll dust ourselves off, have another conversation and see how we can help improve things.
"We've got some good players, a good squad and a good management team – we have to all work hard to get to where we want to be.
"We need to get some points on the board to move off 11 points and work from there as we did in 2005-06 under Gary Johnson."
Although a series of injuries to key players have contributed to a meagre return of two points from the last ten games, Lansdown clearly expects more from the players after investing in eight new signings in the summer.
He watched from the directors' box at Ashton Gate as City turned in their worst performance of the season against Charlton, and admitted: "It's disappointing however much money you put into it because you want the players to go out there and perform. They did not perform (against Charlton) and we have to put that right.
"I'm very disappointed and I have to be honest, it's probably the worst performance I've seen for a long time. We need to take stock of the situation and see where we go from here, but I'm sure the guys themselves will be very disappointed with their contribution to the game.
"It was a disappointing day for everyone associated with Bristol City Football Club, but we've had these days before and we've come through them. We need to do that again."
The manner in which McInnes staved off the threat of relegation towards the end of last season and the team's high-octane start to the campaign have earned the manager more time, but Lansdown wants to see improvement, beginning with Saturday's home game against Blackpool.
He said: "My ambition for this football club is to get to the highest level and at the moment we're not going in the right direction. But in the early part of the season they performed very well. The first few weeks were good; we thrashed Crystal Palace and now we see them top of the table, and we're bottom. We need to do the reverse now and do a Crystal Palace."
Responding to criticism from those fans who have questioned his commitment to the football club now that he is also bankrolling Bristol Rugby, Lansdown insisted City remains his priority.
He said: "Bristol Rugby know what they've got to do and they've got a good set-up there. They've got a few players in and the defeat last week (against Nottingham, 7-63) was desperate for Chris Booy (Rugby club chairman) and he couldn't believe how bad they were.
"They've bounced back (against Jersey, 39-16) and got themselves on track again, which is good news.
"But Bristol City is the closest to my heart and it's where I really want to see the success come through. I'm very disappointed at the moment, but also determined that we get it right in the future."