Richard Hercock: Former Owl Pearson deserves his chance of saving Leicester

Nigel Pearson

Nigel Pearson

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You will struggle to find many supporters from Sheffield Wednesday or Middlesbrough who have a bad word to say about Nigel Pearson.

In his playing days at both Hillsborough and Teesside he was an inspirational captain, a traditional centre-half and a true gentleman.

His greatest moment in the blue and white stripes probably came in the 1991 League Cup final, when Division Two side Wednesday shocked Manchester United at Wembley with a 1-0 win.

He spent seven years as a Wednesday player – and still lives in the Steel City – before heading north and leading Boro to promotion twice, and three cup finals, before he hung up his boots in 1998.

He embarked on a successful coaching career, taking in footballing outposts like Southampton and Newcastle United and a even a stint at Hull City.

He was ear-marked as Ron Atkinson’s No 2 for a return to Wednesday many years ago, only for politics to intervene and the ‘dream ticket’ never to materialise.

So it was ridiculous to see the media storm surrounding the 51-year-0ld this week.

First of all, there was the silly touchline incident with Crystal Palace’s James McArthur.

The winger accidentally collided with the opposition manager on the touchline, and Pearson pretended to throttle the player by putting his hands around his throat.

Pearson then helped the player to his feet, and grabbed hold of McArthur’s shirt as they exchanged words.

There seemed little, if any, malice and both parties got on with the game.

But suddenly pictures of Pearson ‘attacking’ the player were back-page news and even Match of The Day got involved.

It was the proverbial storm in a teacup, with even McArthur dismissing the incident after the match.

But it did not just end there. Sunday afternoon saw ‘breaking news’ that Pearson had been sacked as Leicester manager, and suddenly Sky Sports were delivering an obituary and naming potential successors.

Several hours later, the Foxes issued a statement claiming Pearson was still their manager.

Leicester have remained tight-lipped over what really happened, but I find it ludicrous that Pearson’s position should even be in jeopardy.

This is the man that has delivered Premier League football back to the East Midlands club, by gaining promotion from the Championship last season.

The same manager whom the pundits were raving about at the start of the season after the Foxes beat Manchester United 5-3 and drew with Arsenal.

Granted, Leicester are struggling to cope with life back in the top flight, but Pearson deserves time to see if he can work things out.

Anyone who saw him play will tell you he was a no-nonsense centre-half, but never dirty, a player who led by example.

He was also very loyal to the Owls and Boro, and now he needs that same quality from the Leicester owners over the next few months as Pearson battles to avoid relegation.

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