Watford have appointed Nigel Pearson as their new head coach, initially until the end of the season. Nigel Pearson is no stranger and to understand his appointment, managerial style and premier league fans can expect, lets relive his management at Leicester City
A romantic start …
Leicester City appointed Hull boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager. Pearson, was appointed to stay with the Foxes until the end of the 2013-14 season and was joined by assistant managers Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh. This was a reappointment as before that he had two successful seasons in charge of the Foxes, winning the League One title in 2009 and taking the club to the Championship play-offs the following season.
Leicester City vice-chairman Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn said “We are very pleased to have secured the services of Nigel, Craig and Steve and we are sure that they are the men to lead this club forward. Nigel is very well respected within the game and he and his team have the knowledge of this division and the ability to motivate the players, staff and supporters. They achieved a great deal during their last spell at the club, rescuing Leicester City from its lowest position and coming so close to a place in the Premier League.”
That Premier League Season ..
Nigel Pearson motivated Leicester club players to grind out results, determined to fight for every point on the back of a successful season in the Championship. However, as the Foxes flew high up on the league table, all eyes were on them to continue their fantastic start.
Foxes’ famous 5-3 win at home against Manchester United, where Nigel Pearson’s side showed such great character to produce one of the most memorable comebacks in Premier League history was the highlight of that start.
Eventually, they crumbled under the pressure. On the 26th of December, Boxing Day, Leicester City slumped to their sixth consecutive defeat, a 2-1 loss at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power Stadium. The team continued their horrendous form as they went from the end of January 2015 to the beginning of April without a win—losing six times. And then something unusual happened…..
Leicester 2-1 West Ham, 4 April West Brom 2-3 Leicester, 11 April Leicester 2-0 Swansea, 18 April Burnley 0-1 Leicester, 25 April Leicester 1-3 Chelsea, 29 April Leicester 3-0 Newcastle, 2 May Leicester 2-0 Southampton, 9 May Sunderland 0-0 Leicester, 16 May
It had been the great escape as Pearson guided Leicester to safety in 2014/15. From the verge of relegation, despite occupying the bottom spot in the Premier League for 140 days of the season, Leicester finished 14th in the league. It was the longest spell at the foot of the league that any team had spent and not been relegated.
A great team motivator
Leicester City’s performance psychologist Ken Way during the fairytale Premier League-winning season believes the Foxes would have won the title anyway had former manager Nigel Pearson been retained. He insisted the remarkable team spirit that drove the Foxes to the title was embedded during Pearson’s reign. Way described Pearson as a manager who searched for “the right type of characters” as much as talent.
Ken Way said : “An awful lot of work he did was away from the training ground. He was interested in the players’ families, their wives and children. He made every player feel loved and valued. He expected players to leave their guts on the field. He expected resilience, fight.” Way’s contract was terminated by Leicester after this season’s opening day defeat by Hull.
The belief and hunger the players showed was remarkable . They were fast and aggressive right from the stars of their matches. The way Pearson’s side have pressed from kick-off and attacked with such ferocity was truly impressive, leading to vital early goals they scored, boosting their already overflowing confidence with their flamboyant style of play.
A great team assembler
Of the 11 players who featured in his final game as manager on May 24, a 5-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers, only N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater were the outstanding additions after that season. Kasper Schmeichel, Robert Huth and Wes Morgan, the rocks of Leicester’s defense, were in place, while PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, and Football Writers Association’s Player of the Year, Jamie Vardy, were pivotal members in the Premier League survival.
Ranieri may have massaged this team into champions, but Pearson may well deserve a winners’ medal as well.
His relationship with “Media” is part of his management style
Those who cover Leicester regularly would say Pearson has a relationship with the press as prickly as that patch of brambles he escaped into.
In December, with his team bottom of the league, he was caught telling a Leicester fan to “f— off and die” and was fined £10,000 by the Football Association and given a one‑game touchline ban. Shortly after that incident it was alleged that the Thai owners had expressed concern over Pearson watching games from the stands and recommended that he stood in the technical area.
He was involved in a row with a local journalist, bizarrely branding him “an ostrich”.
In one of the matches, he appeared to throttle Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur on the touchline and then became embroiled in a row with Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker. He was allegedly sacked, then reinstated 24 hours later, but Pearson suggested in an interview later that the furore had galvanized his squad.
He is a straight talker
It doesn’t matter what the subject is, Pearson will tell you what he thinks and, for that matter, why. Yes, he says what he likes and he likes what he says. Take the thorny issue of Brexit, for example.
Nigel Pearson said“I’m a remain man. Absolutely. I think it’s a travesty, personally, It’s all right for the Scots and the Welsh to say that they’re Scots and Welsh. But I’m an English-European. I don’t agree with it [Brexit]. I was bloody annoyed, if I’m honest.”
It is a romantic notion that a modern-day Premier League manager can live independent of the scrutiny that engulfs the game these days, but the reality is that it exists and, whether one approves of it or not, it has to be handled. He is at pains to present himself as a man who lives in blissful ignorance of the 24-hour news cycle and Twitter – and good for him – but that seems increasingly matched by an impulse to fight the world. You wonder if there is anyone on his staff in a position to advise him to take a deep breath and concede a little ground.
There is a reason why the Uefa Pro Licence courses teach modules on dealing with the media and, while it might offend the sensibility of the old school to which Pearson belongs, there is no doubt that it is an integral part of the job. The best managers turn it into an advantage rather than a chore and the most accomplished – Ferguson, Jose Mourinho – use press conferences as a way of addressing their own players, as well as the opposition.
Concluding, Watford season is up for a roller coaster ride ….
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