Nigel Pearson says he does not hold a grudge against his former club Watford, ahead of their match with Bristol City. The 59-year-old will manage against the Hornets for the first time since his sacking in July 2020.
Pearson succeeded Quique Sanchez Flores in December 2019 and oversaw 22 games, winning seven matches, including a 2-0 win over Manchester United and a 3-0 victory over eventual winners Liverpool.
At the time of his sacking, he had Watford three points above the relegation zone. A reported fall-out with owner Gino Pozzo led to the two parting company. It led to Hayden Mullins taking over on a caretaker basis but they failed to win their final two matches and were relegated to the Championship.
Asked if he looked back on his time at Watford with fondness, he said: "I do, regardless of how it finished, which was how it seems to finish for most people.
They have been promoted and relegated since then, going through two managers a season almost; Vladimir Ivic and his successor Xisco Munoz, who got them promoted. Munoz was sacked and replaced by Claudio Ranieri and later former England team manager Roy Hodgson.
Watford are already on to their second manager, having replaced Rob Edwards with former West Ham and West Brom boss Slaven Bilic. Despite their ruthless streak and attitude towards managers, there is no animosity from Pearson towards his former players.
"I went in to the job knowing it wasn’t going to be a long-term thing," he admitted. "Both Craig and myself when we went there enjoyed it for what it was. It was a big challenge and I think for the most part, we really had a positive effect on the club.
"Gino makes his decisions but I don’t hold any grudges or bad feelings towards what happened. At the time I wasn’t particularly happy but it’s just how it is. I still keep in contact with some of the staff. There are some good people at the football club, it’ll be nice to catch up with them too."
"Whatever people think of Watford and how they operate. They know what they are trying to do and I think they’ve got a very realistic chance of bouncing back this year."
Watford are City's last opposition before the two teams pause for the World Cup. Ismaila Sarr is World Cup bound after being called up by Senegal and is an international teammate of ex-City striker Famara Diedhiou. Sarr's attack partner Joao Pedro has been touted as a player who could cause the hosts problems.
Pedro was at Watford at the same time as Pearson and it was the former Leicester City boss who gave him his debut as an 18-year-old. Saturday will present an opportunity to reunite with some of those at his former club, but focus will be on securing a positive result.
He said: "They have got good players and there are still a number of players that are from my time there. I left there two-and-a-half-years ago, think they have had six managers since then which is very Watford-esque.
"It will be a tough game for us but I think it is one in which our players will want to do well in. Let’s hope it turns out to be the case."