Stephen Pearson was brought to Derby from Celtic in January 2007, as the club surged towards promotion under Billy Davies.
Pearson commanded relatively big wages and Davies claimed that his energy in midfield would make him a huge asset. And of course, he scored the goal that got us promoted. In the play-off final against West Brom, he converted a Giles Barnes cross thanks to one of his lung-bursting sprints from midfield.
That was exactly the sort of goal he had been signed to score, but it was actually his first goal for the club – and he barely ever scored again.
He’s a left-footed box-to-box central midfielder, who can win the ball, link play and surge forward when given the space. His final delivery and shooting, however, was a source of frustration to Rams fans and his goalscoring record, for a midfielder with the ability to break into the final third, is awful. Due to his pace and trademark surge through midfield, you tend to assume that he could play on the left, but he has rarely proved effective in that position.
By the time our 2007/8 Premier League season had been confirmed as a farce, Pearson had been loaned to Stoke, but a proposed permanent transfer never went through. A move to Birmingham that summer also collapsed, after the player failed his medical.
Sure enough, Pearson played little part the next season. However, he played regularly in 2009/10 under Nigel Clough and even scored a goal, against you lot. Having done enough to earn a contract extension from Clough, Pearson managed 21 league starts in 2010/11, before suffering another bad injury at the end of the season, from which he has only just recovered.
Ultimately, Pearson is one of the many players who have passed through Derby in the last few years without ever doing enough to justify their price tag or wages. It’s clearly in his interests to move on, as we continue to slash a wagebill which ballooned dangerously under the management of Davies and Paul Jewell. However, if his injuries are genuinely behind him, you should have a useful central midfielder on your hands.
Pearson’s Derby career can be summed up by the fact that his best moment with the club, the Wembley goal, actually led to the worst season in our history and successive terms of second-tier turmoil. He is a reminder of a period the club would rather forget and for this reason, I’m glad he’s moving on.
Good luck to Pearo and to Bristol City for the rest of the season.