Bristol City boss Nigel Pearson hopes to present a “sensational” FA Cup that knocks on the door Manchester City And Riyadh MahrezThe player whom he considers his best transfer outside the competition.
Pearson introduced Mahrez to English football when he was head of Leicester in January 2014 and signed Algeria from French club Le Havre for around £450,000.
Mahrez has had a brilliant career that he has won. Premier League championship at Leicester in 2016 before making a £60m transfer to Manchester City two years later.
The 32-year-old has won three Premier League titles, three League Cups, another FA Cup and scored 75 goals during his time at Etihad Stadium.
Asked if Mahrez was the best pound-for-pound signing ahead of Tuesday’s fifth-round draw, Pearson said: “I don’t think they’re mine at all.
“When you’re in clubs and you do work to improve teams, it’s about developing teams.
“Ignoring the question, he turned out to have an incredible career and was such an exciting talent when we signed him.
He went ahead and proved what an outstanding football player he is. I think the answer to your question is ‘yes’ but I didn’t want to use a single word.”
Losing to Pep Guardiola in the 2018 League Cup semi-finals, Bristol City entered Ashton Gate in form.
The Robins were undefeated in 2023, with a 12-game undefeated streak going back to Boxing Day, and beat Sky Bet Championship rivals Swansea and West Brom to move them into this stage of the FA Cup.
January signings Anis Mehmeti and Harry Cornick are tied for the trophy, and Pearson admits it’s a tough job to upset the Premier League champions.
“It would be sensational if something like this happened,” said Pearson, who lost Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup final against Chelsea and faced Guardiola for the first time in his managerial career.
“They are an elite team and cast with an outstanding manager who is with the best.
“It is us against them. It’s not about the managers, it’s not about me. The point is, we won two cup draws and an exciting draw against the top.
“As a football club it gives us a chance to earn some income and I hope it will be an opportunity for our fans to enjoy.”
The draw shines a spotlight on Bristol City’s highly rated youth, including England Under-20 midfielder Alex Scott and striker Sam Bell.
“I want our young players to have the opportunity to play against such a good team,” said Pearson.
“They’re one of the best sides in the world, there’s no point in worrying too much about that.
“We have to be the best version of ourselves we can be. As a result, playing with the kind of energy levels we can.”