Nigel Pearson

Nigel Pearson, 2011-2015

In November 2011, Nigel Pearson, accompanied by Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh, returned to Leicester City for his second spell at the Club.
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This followed the departure of former England and Manchester City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson the previous month with Leicester City lying 13th in the Championship.

Pearson set about rebuilding the squad. Significant early arrivals were Nottingham Forest’s Wes Morgan, Manchester United youngster Danny Drinkwater and Stoke City’s Ben Marshall. 

The side reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and finished the season ninth in the table. In the close season, Nigel added two more United youngsters - Ritchie De Laet and Matty James. He also signed Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood Town which, up until then, was a non-league side. Marko Futacs, Zak Whitbread and Anthony Knockaert also arrived at King Power Stadium.

John Pantsil, Steve Howard, Matt Oakley, Aleksandar Tunchev, Darius Vassell, Chris Weale, Franck Moussa, Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier and Matt Mills were all soon to depart. In the 2013/14 season, after five successive wins, Pearson’s side was top of the Championship by the end of October. The turnover of players continued.

Paul Gallagher, Jermaine Beckford, Richie Wellens and Neil Danns went out on loan. In November, Michael Keane and Jesse Lingard, two more Manchester United youngsters arrived on loan. Two months later, they were joined by New Zealand international Chris Wood and Tottenham Hotspur loanee Harry Kane, who went on to become England captain later in his career.

Following a stutter in results in November and December, another sequence of five successive wins, with Wood scoring freely, took Pearson’s side to second-place by the end of January. The season ended in disappointment though. Leicester City did manage to break into the Play-Off berths with Knockaert’s dramatic, last-gasp winner at Nottingham Forest.

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Nigel Pearson
Nigel Pearson

A last-gasp defeat by Watford denied City a place in the play-off final, but it would simply delay the Club's return to the top flight.

But defeat by Watford in the Semi-Final, following a late penalty miss from Knockaert and breakaway goal from Troy Deeney, deprived Leicester of a place in the Wembley Play-off Final.

This disappointment was followed by a record-breaking season which saw City achieve a host of Club landmarks on their way to winning the title and returning to the Premier League. New arrivals included Marcin Wasilewski, Dean Hammond, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Kevin Phillips and an unknown Algerian winger, Riyad Mahrez.

Promotion to the Premier League was confirmed with six games still to play. Winning the title, meanwhile, was confirmed with two games remaining at Bolton Wanderers.

To prepare for the Premier League, Pearson signed Matthew Upson, Marc Albrighton, Leonardo Ulloa and, a little later, Argentine legend Esteban Cambiasso also joined the Foxes. Following an early season highlight, the stunning 5-3 defeat of Manchester United, which included a comeback from 3-1 down, two points were gained in the next 13 matches.

City were bottom of the Premier League from November until April. Then came the ‘Great Escape’ - considered by many to in fact be the greatest-ever escape from relegation. Seven points adrift from safety and with nine games left, Pearson’s side amazingly won seven of these games, drawing one.

They finished in the safety of 14th place following a final day 5-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. Vardy, meanwhile, was called up to the England squad by Roy Hodgson. 

It was a remarkable achievement which meant, across Nigel's two spells at the Club, that he had won League 1, the Championship and successfully secured Premier League status.

A few weeks later, Leicester City and Pearson parted company and he was replaced at the Club by Italian manager Claudio Ranieri. Nigel subsequently managed for a brief spell at Derby County. Between 2017 and 2019, he also worked at King Power-owned Oud-Heverlee Leuven in the Belgian Proximus League.

On 6 December, 2019, Pearson took charge of relegation-threatened Watford in the Premier League, winning four of his first six games in charge before a 3-0 win over runaway leaders Liverpool.

Despite guiding the Hornets from bottom to 17th, with two games remaining, and enjoying the best win ratio of any Watford manager in the top flight, Pearson left Vicarage Road in July 2020. In 2021, meanwhile, he became manager at Bristol City in the Championship, remaining in post until his departure in October 2023. A month earlier, Pearson returned to King Power Stadium with his Robins side, when Leicester narrowly coming out on top, winning 1-0.  




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