M33 Nigel Pearson


Nigel Pearson was appointed Hull City manager in June 2010, having been unsettled by boardroom machinations at his previous club Leicester City. Pearson’s assignment was considerable – to take a recently relegated Premier League squad, clear out the players that were not up for a Championship fight and build a squad capable of mounting a new promotion push. His strategy was to sign experience – Robert Koren was acquired from West Bromwich Albion, Nobby Solano joined him from former club Leicester, Antony Gerrard was loaned from Cardiff City and free agent Liam Rosenior came on board – and then over time sprinkle in some youth, notably Manchester United loanees Cameron Stewart, James Chester and Corry Evans. A poor start to the 2010/11 season was arrested by an eight match unbeaten run in November and December 2010 and Pearson was able to invest in a new strike force, signing Matty Fryatt from Leicester City and Aaron McLean from Peterborough United. His side became difficult to beat and by mid-March 2011 the side was on the fringes of the play-off spaces. Failure to win in the last four games saw the Tigers drop to eleventh.

In December 2010 the club was acquired by Assem Allam, a local businessman of Egyptian extraction who earned his considerable wealth manufacturing diesel generators. It quickly became apparent that Pearson and Allam did not always see eye to eye, and with Assem treated as a heroic saviour by City fans it was Pearson whose reputation suffered. City began the 2011/12 season well and victory at Nottingham Forest at the end of October lifted the Tigers into the top six, however in early November 2011 Pearson was offered the chance to return to Leicester City and after a fortnight of negotiations he left Hull City, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many City fans. Despite this, it is evident that Pearson built foundations that eventually led to promotion back to the Premier League in 2013 under Steve Bruce.

Nigel Graham Pearson was born in Nottingham and raised in Bilborough, a community in west Nottingham. Pearson was not part of a Football League club academy and cut his teeth in his late teens playing for Midland League side Heanor Town. A towering centre back, Pearson quickly attracted attention from senior clubs and in November 1981 he signed for Division Two side Shrewsbury Town. After a spell acclimatising in the Shrews’ Reserves, Pearson was handed his first team debut in an August 1982 Group Cup tie against Tranmere Rovers, and quickly became an established part of the Shrewsbury first team – he scored his first senior goal in March 1983 against Barnsley. With the Shrews established as a mid-table presence in Division Two, Pearson continued to build his reputation as a reliable and powerful defender though he missed the entire 1984/85 season due to injury. He returned fully restored and by early in the 1987/88 season he was regarded as one of the division’s strongest defensive assets – his final appearance for Shrewsbury Town, an October 1987 League Cup tie against Division One side Sheffield Wednesday, took his Shrews’ tally to five goals in 184 appearances.

Days after that Cup tie in October 1987 Pearson transferred to opponents Sheffield Wednesday for a £250,000 fee. He made his top flight debut against Nottingham Forest in mid-October and scored his first goal for the Owls a week later against Norwich City, and winner that quickly endeared him to the Hillsborough fanbase. He became a key part of the Wednesday first team for the next four and a half years, experiencing relegation at the end of the 1989/90 season then captaining the side that won the League Cup in April 1991, beating Manchester United at Wembley, and finished third in the Division Two table and returning to the top flight at the first attempt. Nigel played a role in lifting the Owls to a top three Division One finish at the end of the 1991/92 season, meaning that his side qualified for the UEFA Cup as well as lining up in the newly formed Premier League. Pearson played in three European ties as the Owls beat Spora from Luxembourg only to be eliminated by Kaiserslautern from Germany. Although used irregularly in the League, Pearson was also part of the team that took Wednesday to the League Cup and FA Cup Finals that season, though he was unable to play in either Final due to a broken leg sustained in the League Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers. Pearson returned briefly to the Wednesday first eleven at the start of the 1993/94 season but again dropped out due to injury and he left the club in the 1994 close season having made 224 appearances and scored 20 goals.

In July 1994 Pearson signed for League Division 1 challengers Middlesbrough, a £750,000 fee being paid for his signature. In four seasons he captained Boro to two promotions (the 1994/95 and 1997/98 seasons), one Premier League relegation (the 1996/97 season), the 1996/97 League Cup Final (which Boro lost to Leicester City in April 1997), the 1996/97 FA Cup Final (which Boro lost to Chelsea in May 1997) and the 1997/98 League Cup Final (which Boro again, to Chelsea in March 1998). He ended his playing days at the end of the 1997/98 season having scored five goals for Middlesbrough in 139 senior appearances.

In December 1998 Pearson was appointed manager at League Division 2 strugglers Carlisle United and led the Cumbrians into a relegation dogfight that lasted all season and ended with a last-gasp final-day goal by goalkeeper Jimmy Glass that retained their League status. Despite masterminding this survival, Pearson moved on in the 1999 close season after 30 matches in charge at Carlisle and was appointed first team coach at Stoke City. He left Stoke in 2001 and had a spell out of the frontline before becoming assistant manager at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, working with decorated manager Bryan Robson who had been his boss while playing at Middlesbrough. When Robson was sacked by the Baggies in September 2006 following relegation to Championship, Pearson was made caretaker manager for four games prior to Tony Mowbray taking the helm. Pearson stepped aside on Mowbray’s arrival and in October 2006 took the assistant manager role at Premier League side Newcastle United under Glenn Roeder. In March 2007 he had a brief involvement coaching the England Under-21 side, in May 2007 he was caretaker manager for one match following Roeder’s sacking and he was retained in June 2007 by new Magpies’ manager Sam Allardyce. When Allardyce was jettisoned in January 2008 Pearson was again made caretaker manager for two matches before leaving in February 2008 when Kevin Keegan was appointed.

Later in February 2008 Pearson was appointed first team manager at Championship side Southampton but his side managed only three wins in 14 matches in charge and he left the Saints at the end of May 2008. Pearson’s Saints side had avoided relegation with a win on the final day of the 2007/08 season which meant Leicester City were relegated to League One instead, so it was quite the coincidence when Pearson was appointed Leicester’s manager in June 2008. His Foxes side won the League One title in the 2008/09 season and Pearson piloted Leicester into the Championship play-offs at the end of the 2009/10 season, only to lose the semi-final to Cardiff City. There was talk of his replacement sweeping through the club following that play-off loss, which led to him leaving Leicester City in June 2010 after 107 matches in charge.

Pearson returned to Leicester in November 2011 and his Foxes side competed in the upper reaches of the Championship table, reaching the play-offs at the end of the 2012/13 season only to lose out to Watford thanks to one of football’s most remarkable two minute endings to a match. In the following 2013/14 season Leicester went one better and won the Championship title, meaning Pearson was a permanent Premier League manager for the first time in his career. He led Leicester to a fourteenth place finish in the 2014/15 season but was dismissed in June 2015 in the aftermath of a racist sex tape emerging in the media that involved Nigel’s son James Pearson, a Leicester youth team player. Pearson’s second spell in charge at Leicester City encompassed 182 matches.

After a pause for one year Pearson returned to football management in May 2016, taking the top job at Championship side Derby County. His tenure lasted only four months and 12 matches, ending with an argument with chairman Mel Morris in October 2016. A year later in September 2017 Nigel was appointed manager at Belgian League second tier side OH Leuven, a club acquired by Leicester City’s Thai owners. He led Leuven for 57 matches until February 2019, when he was sacked in the aftermath of Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death in a helicopter crash. In December 2019 Pearson joined the long list of managers at Premier League side Watford, leading the Hornets for 22 matches and to the brink of relegation to the Championship before his sacking in July 2020, the 2019/20 season being extended by the COVID19 pandemic. In February 2021 Pearson was appointed manager at Championship side Bristol City and developed a crop of young talent at the Robins’ disposal, but after three bottom half finishes in the Championship table Pearson left Bristol City in October 2023 after 132 matches in charge.


Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 21 August 1963, Nottingham, England

Appointed by Hull City: 29 June 2010; 46 years, 312 days old
Left Hull City: 15 November 2011; 48 years, 86 days old
Tenure: 504 days

Clubs Managed

Carlisle United (1998-1999), West Bromwich Albion (2006), Newcastle United (2007), Newcastle United (2008), Southampton (2008), Leicester City (2008-2010), Hull City (2010-2011), Leicester City (2011-2015), Derby County (2016), OH Leuven (2017-2019), Watford (2019-2020), Bristol City (2021-2023)

Hull City Record

Playing Record: Played 64, Won 23, Drawn 20, Lost 21, Goals For 69, Goals Against 73
Achievements: 11th in Championship, 2010/11 season

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