Recently axed Derby County manager Nigel Pearson was being readied for the Sheffield Wednesday job as far back as 1997, Ron Atkinson has revealed.
When Atkinson returned to Hillsborough for a second spell at the club in the late 90s, the idea was mooted that a player would shadow ‘Big Ron’ with a view towards eventually taking charge.
Atkinson said he immediately picked Pearson, with whom he had forged a good relationship as skipper during the promotion and League Cup winning season of 1991.
However, the idea would fall through when after keeping Wednesday in the Premier League, the club appointed Danny Wilson over Atkinson, as the new manager, in the summer following a contract dispute.
“To this day I don’t know what happened,” said Atkinson who has just released an autobiography entitled The Manager. “When I went back the second time, Dave Richards said to me, I want you to come back in and do what you did at Coventry with Gordon Strachan and groom a young manager. He didn’t specify but I said the man, without a shadow of a doubt, was Nigel Pearson.
“I spoke with Pearson, myself and Peter Shreeves, and he wasn’t going to come in as assistant manager, but as a coach.
“But I would have taken him in to every board meeting, tell him not to say a word but just learn how the thing works and it was all a done deal. He had come down, agreed his deal with Sheffield Wednesday.”
With Atkinson gone Pearson then went on to take over at Carlisle United, in his first foray into management before coaching spells at Stoke City, West Brom, Newcastle and England under 21s.
He then managed Southampton, West Brom, Leicester City (twice), Hull City and took over at Derby County in the summer but was this week sacked following a dispute with the club’s owners.
In The Star on Monday, an in-depth interview with former Owls boss Ron Atkinson on his love of the club, how John Sheridan was as good as an England great and his pain at leaving for a second time.