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Nigel Pearson's suspension could prove to best for all parties after Derby's stuttering start.

Wednesday 28th September 2016
On a day where Britain's sport headlines were dominated by the controversy surrounding the now former England manager, Sam Allardyce, who left his position by mutual consent following allegations made by The Telegraph about comments made by Allardyce to undercover private investigators, Derby County found themselves in headlines themselves, as they suspended their manager Nigel Pearson just hours before their EFL Championship clash with Cardiff City.

Not unlike Allardyce, Pearson has been no stranger to controversy, particularly during the latter stages of his tenure at Leicester City, where a number of bizarre incidents led to his dismissal, despite the on-field success Pearson achieved during his time with the Foxes, where he earned them promotion to the Premier League and subsequently kept them there, which was undoubtedly what was expected of him when he took over the reigns at Derby.

It hasn't panned out quite like that for Pearson at Derby, and after a rather abysmal start to the season where his team succumbed to six defeats in twelve games in charge, the Rams found themselves in the Championship relegation zone goiunng into the game against on Cardiff on Tuesday.

News broke hours before the game that Pearson had been suspended by the club following a training ground bust-up with Derby's Chairman Mel Morris. It is perhaps no surprise that tempers will have flared given Derby's alarmingly poor start to the season, at a club where expectations are high, given the club's lavish spending in recent years, and that, coupled with Pearson's occasionally volatile personality, and Morris' rather hands-on take on the role of chairman.

News of the suspension appears to suggest that Pearson's time as Derby manager will soon come to an end, and while for Derby fans the prospect of changing managers yet again would rarely be a positive, in his short time at the club, Nigel Pearson never really felt like the necessary fit to solve the team's longstanding, deep-running problems.

After three failed attempts at promotion in recent seasons under Steve McClaren, Paul Clement, and Darren Wassall, Mel Morris opted for Pearson's authoritarian, pragmatic approach to management to try and resolve the team's tendency to fold under-pressure and strengthen the club's weak underbelly which had too often been exposed.

On paper, bringing in Pearson appeared a shrewd move, a no-nonsense operator with experience of getting teams promoted from the Championship, who could come in and whip the under-performers into a more resolute outfit. The players never seemed to truly embrace their new manager's efforts, and for whatever reason, looked a shell of the team which had flirted with promotion to the Premier League for three years, instead looking meek and uninspiring in a system that did not appear to suit the players at Pearson's disposal, despite further heavy investment during the summer. A squad featuring some of the best players in the division had seemingly lost their ability to football at Championship level when they came back from preseason.
There is likely more details to come out about the story and the bust-up between Pearson and Morris in the next few days, and it will be interesting to see where Derby County go from here, as yet another manager heads out of the exit door- Pearson was the club's fourth manager in 16 tumultuous months at the iPro Stadium.

An emotional Chris Powell stepped in for his friend and mentor Pearson for Derby's game against Cardiff, and oversaw a 2-0 away victory for the Rams- just their second win in the league this season-  which incidentally, has increased the pressure on Cardiff's struggling manager, and ex-Derby player, Paul Trollope's own job security.

Powell is expected to take charge again for Derby's game on Saturday, and as a former Derby player and experience as a manager at this level in his own right, could find himself as the next permanent incumbent of what is becoming something of a poisoned chalice at the iPro Stadium. The former Charlton and Huddersfield boss likely appeals to Mel Morris given his history with the club, and Powell, with a clear affinity for the team he represented as a player, would likely relish the opportunity to succeed his friend Pearson in the Derby hot-seat.

A clearly, thoroughly likeable man, Powell managed to restore some of the belief and desire back into this beleaguered side at the first attempt, and it is likely that his more personable, empathetic approach will have been more welcomed by the group of players Derby have at their disposable. The decision to revert back to the 4-3-3 formation which clearly most suits the Derby squad probably also helped, after Pearson's attempts to make a 4-4-2 system work didn't quite come off.

Derby fans can only hope that the club's next manager, whoever it may turn out to be- Chris Powell or otherwise- will finally be allowed a prolonged period in charge to take the club to where they want to end up, the Premier League. While some may feel Pearson may not have had enough times, and the players and chairman are by no means blameless in all of this, there was enough evidence already this season that Nigel Pearson was not the right fit for this football club at this moment in time. Should he soon depart, as is expected following the suspension, then it may well be in the club's best interests to end to end their relationship with Nigel Pearson now, while Derby still have a chance to salvage their season with a new man at the helm.
Michael Soloman
Journalist. Long-suffering Derby County fan, Lionel Messi and Barca bandwagon-er.

Total articles: 38

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