Nigel Pearson has signalled a major change in emphasis at Derby County by rejecting Mel Morris’ claim that performances are more important that results.
Speaking to Steve Nicholson this week, Pearson was clear that winning is the only thing that matters – directly contradicting the chairman’s previous stance and heralding a fundamental change to the nebulous and much-mocked ‘Derby Way’.
Pearson said: “We have to find different ways of winning football matches. And I didn’t say good performances, I said winning performances, because you have to find ways of winning games when you are not playing well.
“The sides that do well, historically in the Championship, are those sides.”
Pearson’s common-sense comments wouldn’t have been particularly noteworthy at most clubs – but they call time on a phrase the club has distanced itself from since shortly after Morris invoked it when called on to explain Paul Clement’s sacking.
In February, Morris claimed that short-term results can be misleading and that he instead measured the Rams’ coaching staff on whether or not he could detect a sustained improvement in performance and on the team’s style of play. Morris added that promotion was not his sole aim.
He told the BBC: “You can talk about results and points and promotion, but to me, it’s more important that we see the team performing, on this rising tide of performance.”
But Morris’ statements and criteria clearly no longer apply.
The appointment of the arch-pragmatist Pearson was warmly welcomed by the vast majority of Derby fans, with few concerns raised about the outbursts of strange behaviour which marred his 2014/5 season at Leicester City and culminated in his departure, despite the fact that he’d helped to save the Foxes from a widely-predicted relegation.
Speaking during the first Derby County Podcast of the season, Ramspace blogger Chris Smith hailed Pearson’s toughness and welcomed him as a character ready to ‘crack heads’ and instil discipline into a squad whose performances and results became alarmingly inconsistent under the mismanagement of the unqualified Darren Wassall last season.
Pearson’s determination to stamp his authority on the football club seems set to lead to a far less visible and audible role for money man Morris, whose strong financial support has provided Derby with one of the best squads in the second tier and impressive, Premier League-ready facilities.