Nigel Pearson appreciated the sympathy that greeted his resignation from Watford with only two Premier League games left.
“I am overwhelmed with the good wishes I have received,” he said, not questioning his sincerity. For those in football, his departure’s response was summed up by former Rangers manager Ally McCoist: “Very strange and a bit bizarre.”
Pearson’s record of more than 40 years as a player and manager is that of a strong character and a talented coach. Still, he should ask why he always seems to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Nigel Pearson was fired as manager of Watford after a defeat by West Ham
Pearson gives instructions to his players during the demoralizing defeat at London Stadium
At the age of 56, he finds himself in an industry where managing up – dealing with football owners and directors – is just as important as motivating players. His resume deserves another chance after Watford, but other aspects of his track record suggest it will be a brave chairman who appoints him.
Pearson may point out to help Carlisle and Southampton avoid relegation, build a champion-winning Leicester City team that brought Watford to the safety line with eight points on his record when he was appointed in early December.
Yet critics continue to point to the Achilles’ heel, his suspicious temperament under pressure.
Leicester fired him when his relationship with the board was “no longer viable.” At Derby, there were allegations of player rebellion and feud with owner Mel Morris.
And while Watford captain Troy Deeney said there was no physical confrontation between Pearson and his players, he did acknowledge a ‘solid conversation’ from the Hornets boss with his side 3-0 at half-time at West Ham in his last game being in charge.
The 56-year-old’s track record suggests it would be a brave chairman to appoint him
More seriously, it is understood that Pearson was not kind to ‘suggestions’ from Watford owner Gino Pozzo and technical director Filippo Giraldi after the game, and if the manager’s history tells us anything, he is not responding well when he feels unfairly cornered.
Even a harmless question from a reporter at a press conference in Leicester City once sparked a startling reaction from Pearson, who accused his inquisitor of being an ‘ostrich’, ‘stupid’ and then joking about his weight.
Some thought the exchange portrayed Pearson in a human side, others considered him unbalanced.
Like many top managers, Pearson played in the middle. He was a no-nonsense leader who was adored in Sheffield Wednesday and captained Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
His first management job at Carlisle made them save their Football League status with a late goalkeeper Jimmy Glass winner against Plymouth on the last day.
Pearson (left) in action against Gianfranco Zola during the 1998 Coca Cola Cup final
Pearson on the sidelines as Bryan Robson’s assistant manager at West Brom in 2005
Glass also revealed that Pearson was not Orthodox. Before the Plymouth game, he started handing over a bottle of brandy. The players took a sip out of it, “he said.
“It’s unbelievable when you look back now, but the manager was trying to calm everyone down.”
You wish Pearson could have settled himself.
As a coach, he did well at Newcastle, West Brom and England Under 21s. He developed into No. 1 in Southampton and then Leicester, where he entered and stayed in the Premier League.
It became a hallmark of Pearson’s style to build a strong dressing room around Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy.
Vardy credits him with transforming his career after the striker initially struggled after a non-League move. “The manager said,” look, we believe in you, we have you here for a reason. ” ‘
But the “dark side” – a description Pearson gives himself – would never completely disappear. He was caught on video telling a Leicester fan to ‘f *** off and die’ and was reminded of his responsibilities by the FA after grabbing Crystal Palace’s James McArthur by the throat.
Jamie Vardy has credited Pearson for transforming his career during their time at Leicester
Pearson once accused a journalist of an “ostrich” in a bizarre news conference
Pearson’s post-game explanation, “I’m more than capable of taking care of myself” sounded like a line from a bad gangster movie.
Leicester’s Thai owners remained confident due to the success he enjoyed on the field, but eventually fired him in the summer of 2015 when an off-season tour to Thailand was marred by three Leicester players, including Pearson’s son James, who was involved in racist sex adhesive tape.
Pearson was always different. His post-game interviews were slow and always careful to look for the right words. To ‘relax’ he went on long solo walks, sometimes Dartmoor and the Peak District, once in the Carpathians where he had to fight wild dogs.
His career after Leicester remained fiery. He was appointed to Derby in 2016, but was suspended four months later, followed by a divorce.
There were allegations of losing the locker room and his patience with the club’s owner, Mel Morris.
In February 2015, Pearson took Crystal Palace’s James McArthur by the throat
Pearson regrets having ever been to Pride Park. “It was a bad choice for me and probably a bad choice for them.”
He regrouped in the Belgian Second Division and hoped that at the age of 56 at Watford, something else would turn out late last year.
The early draw was good with an unbeaten run of seven games, resulting in a 2-0 win over Manchester United. The players seemed to embrace his energy and man management.
“We see him everywhere. Sometimes we joke about it in the team, ‘defender Christian Kabasele revealed at the time.
‘You never know when he will show up in the physiotherapy room, in the office, in the canteen. He pays attention to everyone and that is the big difference with the other managers. ‘
Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last, a hallmark of Pearson’s career.
He was appointed manager at Derby in 2016, but was suspended just four months later
Their form on Vicarage Road remained reasonable, ending Liverpool’s unbeaten season shortly before closing. But they were a mess on the road, collecting just one point out of 21 since January.
Inevitably, the frustration started. “We had passengers, which is disappointing at this stage of the season. We missed the game in the first half, ” he said after the Watford defeat last Friday evening.
Apparently, the language inside the dressing room walls was more pronounced.
Pearson came from a hard school, but only a certain type of player can handle that in today’s game. So it’s left to caregiver Hayden Mullins to get the results against Manchester City and Arsenal keeping Watford up to par.
As for Pearson, it’s hard to see where he can go. He’ll build a reputation as Red Adair, a short-term specialist in avoiding degradation, if you feel he’s happiest building a strong dressing room over time.
That should frustrate him – and he has to keep it under control if he wants a future in the modern game.