Crazy Derby County story on Nigel Pearson, Richard Keogh and Chris Martin ends with advice for Bristol City

Robins won at Pride Park for the second time in three visits on the weekend as BBC Radio Derby recalled a time when Pearson was in charge there.
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Nigel Pearson had a very short spell in charge of Derby County, signing a three-year deal in May 2016 before eventually departing the club in October later that year.

The relationship with owner Mel Morris was not good, but Pearson wished his former side all the best when Bristol City visited a neck of the woods that the manager knows all too well at the weekend, having started his youth playing career for Derbyshire side Heanor Town in 1980.

Ahead of Saturday’s 1-3 win BBC Radio Derby discussed Pearson’s short spell at the helm, and in particular told the story of Chris Martin leaving on loan to Fulham back in the summer of 2016.

The anecdote highlighted how Derby County have been badly run and fallen foul of EFL financial rules.

It ended with some sure advice for Bristol City fans and the Robins board to take stock of, as reporters Ed Dawes and Colin Gibson discussed on their pre-match Sportscene show (from 34:40).

“How do you make a mess of a football club? Maybe this microcosm of a story of the opposition manager today [Nigel Pearson] and their second leading goalscorer Chris Martin really just encapsulates how to get things wrong in football,” explained Gibson.

“So in the summer of 2016 Nigel Pearson is appointed manager of Derby County. It’s quite a controversial appointment but you know with Nigel Pearson that he’s going to come in and he’s going to rough things up.

“He’s going to start moving things around, and frankly, that was what was needed at the football club.

“It wasn’t the best of starts and nerves get a little bit frayed, but the new manager identified that he needed to move players on.

Nigel Pearson worked a short spell at Derby County back in 2016 after leaving Leicester City. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)Nigel Pearson worked a short spell at Derby County back in 2016 after leaving Leicester City. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Nigel Pearson worked a short spell at Derby County back in 2016 after leaving Leicester City. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

“Players that had been key in Derby’s decent run of recent times, but players that he felt had too much of an influence there. So it was time to move them on.

“So Chris Martin goes off on loan to Fulham, Lee Grant goes off on loan to Stoke City and Richard Keogh [former Bristol City defender] would have been the next one out of the door.

“The season doesn’t start well and the chairman starts to get a little bit twitchy about how things are going.

“He decides to back the players and not the manager, when it comes to a show of force. And maybe Richard Keogh had a bit of a hand in the force that saw Nigel Pearson shown the door after six weeks [of the season].

“An utterly absurd decision. You bring in a new manager you stick to that manager. Otherwise, what was the point in appointing him in the first place?,” asks Gibson.

The story continues as Chris Powell arrives at the club as assistant and is set to replace Pearson only to find that Steve McClaren is wanted instead, having previously done well with the club.

McClaren wants Chris Martin to return from loan at Fulham but the Cottagers aren’t having it. Despite agreeing a “hefty” new contract to keep Martin at Pride Park for the next years, the striker remains in London for the entire season on loan and is not useable for the Rams.

“And by the time he [Martin] returns from that loan spell at Fulham, the manager who so desperately wanted him back has been sacked, replaced by Gary Rowett, who wasn’t that fussed about having Chris Martin,” continued Gibson.

“Now how many hundreds and thousands of pounds have been wasted in that short spell? It’s a microcosm of how to get things horribly wrong when you’re running a football club.

“If you appoint a manager and you know it’s going to be a bit of a rough, old shakeup time, that’s why you appoint Nigel Pearson. And if you appoint him, stick with your plan.

“Stick with your plan, like Brentford did. Don’t stick with it [just] for a fortnight, or six weeks. If you have a plan and it’s getting a bit twitchy and the players are moaning, back the manager, the man you have just put in charge,” he said.

The Radio Derby reporters went on to discuss how some players at Pride Park had too much power but something there for the Lansdowns to heed?