Nigel Pearson worked a short spell at Derby County back in 2016 after leaving Leicester City. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson spared a thought for his former club Derby County and their manager Wayne Rooney following their relegation.
The Rams’ relegation to League One was confirmed after their defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Easter Monday, along with Reading’s draw with Swansea City.
For the first time in 36 years, the Midlands club will be playing in English football’s third tier, following a difficult season both on and off the pitch.
Derby were handed a deduction of 21 points and were placed under a transfer embargo, but despite that they still gave themselves a fighting chance.
And Pearson, who was at the club albeit for only a couple of months back in 2016, expressed his sympathy for his opposition manager.
“I really feel for Wayne, his staff and his players,” he said in his pre-match press conference at the High Performance Centre.
“Based on just how competitive they have been all season. For such a big points deduction to still have a chance with three games to go is incredible really.
“I do feel for him and everybody at Derby County. It’s a good club, they’ve got a big, loyal fanbase. I’ve got no doubt that they will bounce back quickly.
“It would test anybody’s resolve and dedication that he has led the group very well. I don’t know him particularly well but people have spoken very highly of how he has carried himself throughout the season.
“I think the Derby fan base will very much get behind their team. I would expect that and I think that will happen. They will show their appreciation to their team.”
Saturday’s match is their penultimate away fixture with a home match against Hull City and a final day away trip to Huddersfield Town to follow.
In the earlier part of the season back in December, the Robins claimed a 1-0 victory at Ashton Gate over Rooney’s side.
Teenage sensation Alex Scott scored the only goal in the 16th minute of the game in what was a close-fought match.
Through Derby’s plight, they have had to turn to a number of academy players this season, with the likes of Festy Ebosele, Jason Knight and Max Bird all regulars.
City themselves have had to turn to the likes of Scott, Han-Noah Massengo, Ayman Benarous and others this season.
And with both sides now in knowledge of their fate for next season, Pearson is predicting an entertaining match at Pride Park.
Pearson said: “It’s two teams that go into the game with different scenarios but also the season in terms of outcomes is settled.The two youngest sides too. I will expect a good game of football.
“Looking at the fixture at our place it was a very tough game on that occasion we came away with three points but it was an even contest in many ways.