Following Quique Sanchez Flores’ dismissal at Vicarage Road, Chris Hughton and Paul Clement emerged as the early favourites to replace the Spaniard. They were followed by the likes of Quique Setien, Mark Hughes, Alan Pardew, Tony Pulis and even Aidy Bothroyd in the bookies list of the most likely men to be named as Watford’s third manager of the season already.
Following a short-lived and disappointing spell at Derby County and failure to win promotion from the second tier of Belgian football with Leuven, one name that few people had in mind was Nigel Pearson. The abrasive former centre-back is someone I know well as a self-confessed Hull City fan, and he did a fine job at both the KCOM Stadium and at the King Power Stadium, despite rarely endearing himself to the general public.
Seemingly telling a supporter to “f*** off and die” and calling a journalist an ostrich probably weren’t Pearson’s shrewdest moves, and Watford’s decision to hand him a lifeline back in top flight management is as shocking as it is likely to be entertaining. In light of that decision, today I’m going to take a look back at Nigel Pearson’s last 7 Leicester City signings and what those players are up to now:
7. Andrej Kramaric – Hoffenheim
At both Hull City and Leicester City, Nigel Pearson’s recruitment was very good, although much of his work in the transfer market and in terms of scouting players was attributed to his chief scout Steve Walsh. Walsh remained at Leicester following Pearson’s departure, before heading to Everton, but he was sacked by the Toffees due to the poor form of his expensive signings. Andrej Kramaric was the last man the duo signed at Leicester City, and although he did nothing for the Foxes, the Croatian international has proved his class since then. The 28-year-old has bagged 99 goals in 179 games for Hoffenheim since joining the Bundesliga outfit in 2016.
6. Mark Schwarzer – Retired
Australia’s most capped footballer of all time, Mark Schwarzer won 109 caps for the Socceroos between 1993 and 2003. He was rapidly approaching the end of his playing days when Pearson brought him to Leicester in 2015, and one suspects he wouldn’t have expected to win the first league title of his career at the King Power. Schwarzer was 41 when he signed for Leicester, and he made just 11 appearances in two seasons before hanging up his gloves in 2016.
5. Tom Lawrence – Derby County
Pearson and Walsh had a lot of success over the years signing young players from Manchester United, and versatile Welsh international Tom Lawrence arrived at the King Power for an undisclosed fee in 2014. He made as many loan moves away from Leicester as he made appearances for the Foxes – four – before being sold to Derby County. The 25-year-old has since made 90 appearances for the Rams, and he was one of the players caught up in the club’s drunk-driving scandal earlier this season.
4. Danny Simpson – Huddersfield Town
Another Manchester United academy graduate and another player who has had his fair share of infamous off-field incidents, Danny Simpson joined Leicester from Queens Park Rangers in 2014. He went on to play more than 130 games for the club, including being first choice right-back as the club won the Premier League title. Simpson was released at the end of last season, and he joined Championship side Huddersfield on a free transfer in the summer.
3. Esteban Cambiasso – Retired
Ironically, Esteban Cambiasso was reportedly one of the candidates approached by Watford with regards to their vacant managerial position before Nigel Pearson was handed the job until the end of the season. The Argentine veteran was the outstanding signing of Nigel Pearson’s final summer in charge of Leicester, and he was the Foxes Player of the Year as they staged a famous great escape. Cambiasso’s departure for Olympiacos was seen as a real blow to Leicester, but his replacement N’Golo Kante was pretty decent too. Cambiasso retired in 2017 following two seasons in Greece.
2. Leonardo Ulloa – Rayo Vallecano
Making it consecutive Argentinians signed by Nigel Pearson, Leonardo Ulloa hasn’t quite had as decorated a career as Esteban Cambiasso, but he too played a major role at Leicester. Signed from Brighton for a club record fee, Ulloa was Leicester’s top scorer with 11 goals as they secured Premier League survival, and he added six the following season to help the club to an unlikely top flight title. Ulloa departed in 2018 for Mexican outfit Pachuca, but he moved on once again to recently-relegated Rayo Vallecano in the summer.
1. Jack Barmby – San Antonio FC
The son of former England international and Hull City legend Nick Barmby, Jack Barmby was yet another former Manchester United academy graduate signed by Nigel Pearson. Barmby was a player of some pedigree, having starred in Manchester United’s youth ranks and having appeared for England at under-16, 18, 19 and 20 level. He never played a game for Leicester though, and following a loan move with MLS side Portland Timbers, Barmby headed stateside permanently in 2017. He has since dropped down from the MLS to the USL, where he stars for San Antonio FC, who narrowly missed out on a play-off spot in 2019.