Smart On Pearson: “There’s A Bit Of The Great GT About Him”
By Kevin Affleck
Allan Smart believes Nigel Pearson is exactly the right man for the Watford job after observing how thew Hornets Head Coach operated when doing his coaching qualifications.
Pearson, 56, was a tutor on the A License at Lilleshall in the early noughties when Smart did his badge alongside Brendan Rodgers. Smart was impressed with Pearson's knowledge, tactical acumen and his delivery and has followed his career closely ever since.
“He was approachable, warm, took sessions, offered opinion, had good knowledge and really stimulated debate,” he said. “He came across as a really decent bloke but he has that fiery side that you need as a manager. There is a bit of the great GT about him. Players won't be stepping out of line, that's for sure.”
Pearson issued a really powerful speech to the playing and training ground staff on Sunday morning and plans to extract every lost drop of talent and energy out of this squad, making it more than the sum of its individual parts.
“He'll want 100 per cent effort for starters,” said Smart. “Look at what Duncan Ferguson did at Everton on Saturday. He showed you what you can do with a team when they are at full tilt. Fans want to see players putting effort in, giving everything and putting your foot in. Nigel's teams are well organised, structured but they also have a bit of creativity about them.”
Smart just missed Pearson at Carlisle. He left to join Watford in the same summer of 1998 that Pearson took over, a season that culminated in goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scoring an injury-time equaliser to keep Carlisle in the Football League.
“I know that dressing room and they all spoke really well of him and the job he did there,” said Smart. “What he did there was against the odds.”
It's a familiar theme, really. Pearson was Bryan Robson's assistant when West Brom stayed up on the final day of 2004/05; he kept Southampton up in 2007/08, again on the final day, while Leicester won seven and drew one of their final nine games in 2014/15 to beat the drop.
“I feel the biggest thing he did was get those Leicester players off the floor from Play-Off Semi-Final defeats against Cardiff and Watford to then get them promoted,” said Smart. “I remember one of the players [Yann Kermorgant] tried to dink a penalty against Cardiff and then there was that Deeney goal against Watford, but he still managed to keep his dignity when he could have gone mad and eventually got them up. That must have been a big psychological task and he needed to show a lot of leadership then, which he has clearly got as Bryan Robson made him captain of his Middlesbrough team and you don't get a better reference than that.”