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Why Manchester United Should Hire Nigel Pearson

4:59 PMAleks Vee

Opinion


by Aleks V 

The Theatre of Dreams currently plays host to a rather lackluster show. Dull movement, inaccurate passes, and a six game winless streak that featured a tumble from 3rd to 6th in the league table are just a few of the season's highlights. Promising, top-billed stars (Martial, Depay) have shone, but only briefly. To top it all off, players like Ander Herrera are no longer as visible as they usually are. Something must be amiss. Of course, all fans will agree that no matter how many games Manchester United fail to hit the target or get by winning 1-0 against a 10th placed team, the show must go on. But before it does, it needs a new guy in charge. Someone who has a record of rebuilding and getting the players, veteran and new, to look their best. United are, after all, "such stuff as dreams are made on", but as Shakespeare aptly noted, their "life is rounded with a sleep".

Luckily for them, there happens to be an Englishman called Nigel Pearson who's yet to be picked up by another side yearning for stardom.

Pearson may not have a resume the likes of current Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, with world-renowned clubs like Ajax, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich in the mix. However, he has something that may be more important - a background in rebuilding. Case in point: Leicester City. Upon his arrival, the club were playing in the third tier of English football. During his second spell, they had arrived at the Premier League.

Nigel Pearson. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
The fruits of his labor are still visible under the Foxes' current manager Claudio Ranieri. Although credit must be given to Ranieri, who brought the club further up the table and into the race for the title, Pearson's second spell at Leicester laid the foundation for their Premier League success.

12 of the players from his 2013/14 roster are still there. Some have been instrumental to the Foxes' consistent performance in the Premier League. Danny Drinkwater, who made five assists so far this season, has been praised for his midfield mastery. Jamie Vardy, a prominent goalscorer at Leicester, found the net in eleven consecutive matches last year, breaking a record held by Ruud van Nistelrooy.

There are plenty of parallels to be made between Nigel Pearson and United's manager of 26 years Sir Alex Ferguson. Both were appointed with the task of rebuilding struggling sides. United were on the verge of relegation, Leicester were relegated from the Championship. Both managed teams that pulled off impressive comebacks - the Red Devils are often called the "comeback kings", while the Foxes, under Pearson, learned to overcome 1 and 2-goal deficits, carrying the trend into the Ranieri era and earning the same name. Fittingly, both Ferguson and Pearson won managerial awards as well as titles. Pearson has yet to win said titles with a Premier League club, but that may yet change.

Sir Alex himself complimented Pearson on his work at Leicester, saying his team "were fantastic". Sadly, I can't recall the last time that word was used to describe Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson. Photo: Total Fusbol

Critics may point to a scandal involving Pearson's son which led to his sacking. However, a fair assessment of the manager's abilities should not be affected by his son's behavior. They'll also point to Pearson's fiery temper, most notably in some of his encounters with the press, but before the critics do any more pointing, the clear-headed among us will show them the door.

Lets not forget that Ferguson, who wasn't on bad terms with the press to begin with, had a tough time with the media as the years went on. In his autobiography, he writes that it was difficult to have any relationship at all with the "intense and volatile" press of today. And who could blame him? Pointless questions are asked, provocations are made, and facts are often spun out of proportion, or slanted in favor of where the money's from, and not just in sports journalism.

Sir Alex became synonymous with Manchester United, etching his name in the history of football as one of the game's greatest managers. Naturally, United struggled to transition into the post-Fergie era, first with David Moyes in charge, and now with Louis van Gaal. As it turns out, the job of Manchester United manager calls for something more than just Premier League experience - there's an "it factor" involved as well.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a managerial phenomenon, and neither Manchester United nor any other football club will likely find another leader of his intellect and tactical ability any time soon. What they can find, however, is someone with similar qualities who can take the team in a very similar direction.

All that's left to do is put pen to paper.

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Highlights of Nigel Pearson's first season at Leicester:
League One champs, promotion to Championship
23 game unbeaten run (2008-09)
4 losses in 46 league games

Highlights of Sir Alex Ferguson's first full season at Manchester United:
2nd place top division finish
10 game unbeaten run (March - May 1988)
5 losses in 40 league games


 

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