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Liam Manning: Bristol City close in on Oxford head coach as Nigel Pearson replacement

Liam Manning set to leave Oxford United for Bristol City despite Yellows sitting second in League One; Robins sacked Nigel Pearson last week and have looked for younger replacement with club 11th in Championship and beat Sheff Wed 1-0 on Saturday

Liam Manning is close to being named as Bristol City's new head coach
Image: Liam Manning is close to being named as Bristol City's new head coach

Liam Manning is close to being confirmed as the new Bristol City head coach, Sky Sports News has been told.

Manning's Oxford United are second in League One, but the chance of jumping a division with Bristol City has been too tempting for him to stay put.

Negotiations over a compensation package between the two clubs have been ongoing over the weekend, with broad agreement now on a fee.

Manning is expected to make the switch to the Championship in the next 48 hours.

It became clear towards the end of last week that, having parted company with the hugely experienced Nigel Pearson, Bristol City wanted to go in a new direction.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday

Technical director Brian Tinnion and chairman Jon Lansdown decided they wanted a young head coach rather than a manager, and someone with progressive ideas about how to develop the squad.

That meant they turned away from the likes of John Eustace, Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones - all of whom were on their initial shortlist, and currently out of work.

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Manning, who is only 38, began his coaching career at West Ham's academy, where he developed a possession-based, high-pressing style of football, which appeals to Bristol City's bosses.

Analysis: Sacking Pearson won't solve Aston Gate enigma

Sky Sports' Ron Walker:

Bristol City chairman Jon Lansdown's forthright comments announcing Nigel Pearson's sacking were a notable departure from the football-ese of empty platitudes and mutual agreements.

The Robins are 15th in the Championship and have lost five of their last seven games after a 2-0 defeat at rivals Cardiff on Saturday. The goals from a talented forward line have dried up and the club now sit one place below where they finished last season.

Though the conviction of City's statement is unusually clear, its rationale is not.

City's five-point gap to the play-offs at the time of his departure, especially in the Championship, is immaterial with barely a third of the season gone.

A growing injury list stopped them naming a full bench in his final game, their best player has not been replaced following his summer departure, yet they were a point off the top six barely a week before Pearson's sacking.

He retained the support of the club's fanbase, normally the harshest judge of any manager, until the final day. It is no absolute guarantee but the numerous personal thanks from players on social media suggests he still commanded the support of the dressing room, too.

Instead, it is the comments and actions of recent weeks which have hinted at a growing chasm between the management and hierarchy at Ashton Gate, because on results alone his removal feels a cruel blow.

Who is Liam Manning? From £2 coaching sessions to Yellows' main man

Sky Sports' Matt Foster:

Liam Manning has a smile on his face.

Having to deal with professional footballers knocking on his door asking why they aren't playing may seem an unenviable task, but he would happily have those conversations all day compared to taking calls from angry parents complaining about their child not being in his starting XI.

"Parents are 10 times worse!" he jokes.

Despite being just 38, the Oxford United boss commands a pedigree of 17 years of experience in coaching, having started at the age of 21 after a short playing career.

Now a head coach at an established Sky Bet League One club, it was not always simple for Manning, who revealed the highs and lows of how he became a manager. He recalls his stint coaching for £2-a-session in his early days.

"I did a scholarship, played abroad for a year and had a tough six months," he says. "I came to terms with not achieving the dream of playing professionally. I was semi-pro earning a few quid, then doing evening coaching sessions - it was a way of making ends meet."

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