Pearson takes over from Quique Sanchez Flores — who only took over from Javi Gracia in September — who left his post at Vicarage Road with the Hornets sitting 20th out of 20 teams in the PL table, already seven points adrift from safety. Pearson’s contract runs through the end of the season.
The 56-year-old Pearson, who last managed in the PL with Leicester City in 2015, was most recently in charge of Belgian side OH Leuven before he was fired in February.
Pearson won’t take charge of Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold). Interim manager Hayden Mullins will see out the week’s preparations and manage the team before handing the reins to Pearson on Sunday.
Leicester City’s emotional fortnight continued Saturday, as the Foxes staged their first Premier League home match since the helicopter crash that killed five people including club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Former Leicester bosses Claudio Ranieri, Martin O’Neill and Nigel Pearson were in the crowd, as the King Power Stadium saluted the Foxes’ fallen boss with a video tribute, music, flowers, and a minute’s silence.
Adding a second minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, the absence of noise combined with the crowd’s raising of white “Forever In Our Hearts” scarves perfectly served the occasion.
"Forever in our hearts"
Lots of emotion at the King Power Stadium as everyone came together to honor Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha with a tribute video. pic.twitter.com/ZfKg3gbeTo
Enter Pearson, 52, who has been hired on a three-year deal. It’s his first stop since a roller coaster ride saw him guide Leicester into the Premier League, only to be fired in the aftermath of some players being involved in a racist sex tape incident on a tour of Thailand.
“I am honoured to be named as the Manager of Derby County, which is one of the biggest clubs in the country, a club in excellent shape and one with strong ambitions. It is firmly focused on achieving Premier League football.
“I will give absolutely everything I have to this role and do all I can to bring exciting, entertaining and winning football which our supporters can be proud of.”
At the very least, the Rams will be interesting to watch next season.
Aston Villa is very likely to be relegated from the Barclays Premier League this season, and after the recent firing of manager Remi Garde, the club doesn’t want to take any chances in misfiring when it comes to hiring their next coach.
Moyes and Pearson could be the most realistic candidates for the job, given that Villa are reportedly in the market for a British manager. While Moyes was quickly let go at Manchester United, his days at Everton were certainly admirable, making him a legitimate frontrunner.
Pearson most recently managed with Leicester City, prior to Claudio Ranieri taking the side over, but likely doesn’t hold as much traction as a candidate because of his poor record.
Whomever the successor for Garde is at Villa Park, they will have their work cut out for themselves. Villa currently sits dead last on the PL table, 12 points out of the final safety spot, which is held by Norwich City at the moment.
In a recent interview with The Times, Pearson said he is pulling for Leicester to win the Premier League title, but admitted there would be “a mixture of feelings” after his unceremonious departure.
It would be a mixture of feelings, let’s be honest.
I would be delighted for a lot of people there – players, staff and fans – but I would be dishonest if I said I would be happy for everyone there. Of course, I wouldn’t be.
Leicester are where they are because they’ve had a fantastic season and because their manager has managed skillfully and sensibly, but also because they previously had someone in charge who was able to front it up and make tough decisions when they needed to be made.
I know how pivotal the work I did for them to be in the situation they’re in now.
With Ranieri drawing such great praise for his work at Leicester, many are forgetting the role that Pearson played in getting the club to this point. The Foxes’ never-say-die attitude began with Pearson keeping the team alive after sitting bottom of the table from November through April last season.