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Manager Burnout (featuring Pearson)


CheddarReds
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Interesting article on The Athletic: https://theathletic.co.uk/2474476/2021/03/25/manager-burnout-brutal-truths-about-alcohol-dreading-matches-and-the-relief-of-being-sacked/?redirected=1

Below is the section on Pearson for those that don't have a subscription. 

“When Dad used to get home — he still does it now but not as bad because I think he realises that phones are fairly important; it was only four years ago that he discovered what WhatsApp was — he would just turn his phone off and he wouldn’t be available,” James Pearson says.

“Sometimes if it was urgent. Mum would have Andrew Neville (Leicester City’s football operations director) sending her a text saying, ‘Can you get Nigel to get in contact?’ A bit like Dean (his adviser) does now if a job comes up, so he still does it!”

James is the son of Nigel, whose managerial career has taken him all over the country, from Southampton to Carlisle and plenty of places in between, as well as a stint in Belgium. He is on a Zoom call with his mum Nicky, to talk about the world of football management from the other side of the fence.

Their family home has been in Sheffield for more than 30 years, going back to the days when Nigel was captaining second-division Wednesday to a League Cup final win over Manchester United and promotion in the same season. Although that can mean periods apart at times, especially during the week, there is something to be said for the stability and escapism that a permanent base away from the football club provides.

“Absolutely,” says Nicky. “To be able to come home and not have that (the pressure of being a manager at a club in the same city where you live) if we did go out. We still have a massive thing in Sheffield because he was the captain of Sheffield Wednesday, so we have it from a fan and a player side but not as a manager, and that’s why he’s always said that to manage in Sheffield isn’t what he wants because he likes living here and he wouldn’t want that to be affected.”

Although Nicky would go to the majority of matches in normal circumstances, and spend more time watching her husband on the touchline than the game itself, she rarely talks football at home. “It’s work, so I don’t ever really ask that much. If Nigel was a bank manager, I wouldn’t expect him to come home and talk to me about accounts,” she says, smiling.

With James, whose career as a professional footballer was brought to a premature end last year because of injury following a final spell with Macclesfield Town, it is different. Aged 28, he will often chat about a game with his dad, in the same way any father and son might, or a potential job opportunity, as was the case when Bristol City of the Championship came in for Nigel last month.

One thing James has really noticed over the last couple of years is just how much his old man has mellowed. “I think he’s completely changed now. Obviously, we all worry about his mental health. But ever since he took the Watford job (in December 2019), I would say that I don’t worry about him half as much because he’s changed the way he perceives everyone.

“Before, he used to call Twitter ‘Twitter’. He used to hate it. He used to hate social media. Not hate… he just didn’t get it. But he understands now that this is life, it’s a massive part of football. The fact that he’s on social media is weird. So weird. But it’s a good thing too.”

Age and experience probably have something to do with that shift, plus a willingness to embrace the media more generally in a way that would never have appealed to him in the past. James talks about how “the barriers aren’t up” any more and how his father seems more relaxed as a result, whether that’s speaking to journalists or bumping into football fans in a restaurant.

That is not to say that Pearson has let his guard down completely; there is a time and a place for speaking openly.

“When he’s being interviewed, I sometimes think, ‘Oh for goodness sake, talk quickly. You don’t talk like that normally’. We’re all thinking, ‘Come on, spit it out!’” says Nicky, laughing. “But I know that he’s doing that for a reason. He’s always thinking about what he’s saying in a live interview because he knows the scrutiny there is and that people will pick it apart if he just says one thing wrong.”

While dealing with the fallout from unfavourable headlines is one thing — Pearson had to do that a few times with Leicester during the 2014-15 season in the Premier League that included the notorious Night of the Ostrich run-in with one reporter — picking up the pieces in between jobs is quite another.

“I’ve seen Nigel at his lowest — Derby,” says Nicky, referring to his acrimonious 2016 departure from Pride Park, when he left the club by mutual consent after only five months following a bitter fallout with Mel Morris, the club’s owner. “It was awful. I‘ve always been Nigel’s biggest fan. I’ve always said to him, ‘You’re too good to give this up’. But I thought (then), ‘If he never works in football again, I’m with him’.”

James finds it hard to imagine that day will come and tells his mum that it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. “Dad has worked in football for 39 years, in a dressing room,” he says. “Yeah, he likes to take a break and go on holiday (at the end of the season) and he’s been travelling around the world and he enjoys doing that. But football, whether people like it or not, is a drug. It’s a complete addiction.

“When he’s in football, he might go, ‘I’m tired, this is hard, and mentally it’s tough’. When you’re out of it, all you want to be is back. And you see when he gets a job after being out of work, within half an hour he’s got a completely different mindset and he’s a completely different person.

“That’s because it’s the drug that is football.”

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Other bits of the article just highlight how much pressure managers are under. e.g. the threat of relegation and 30% of staff losing jobs, a massive amount of media attention and endless interviews, managing up the club, not being present in personal lives. 

Edited by CheddarReds
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I think that from reading this, it’s evident why NP wanted to take a good, long look at our club, it’s structure and especially owner before accepting the long term challenge of the role. He was clearly damaged by his experience with Mel Morris at Derby and likely again by the basket-case ownership of Watford, that he wanted to ascertain whether he can work and wants to work under SL. From what he’s said in his interviews to date, I think he’s been very pleased by what he’s seen and will be happy to take on the full time position. 
 

During my career, I worked for some great people but unfortunately, also for two awful, just awful managers (both French!). I know to my cost what working in a bad working environment can do for one’s psyche and how pleased and relieved I was to get out. Such experiences makes you cautious. He’ll have no problems working with SL and will enjoy his time with us (as I’m sure we will with him!).

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Good read.

Pearson & I are exactly the same age (born in the very same month) & I can certainly recognise the bit about it being a different approach as you get older & as he has said a couple of times, the importance of looking after yourself a lot more.

This occurred to me about him after the turgid Blackburn draw recently & with his holiday home being near Ivybridge. Say he finished his media duties by 10pm and they got back to Bristol by 1am, he then has a further two hour drive to get home, which for a 57 year old after a strenuous evening is not sustainable long term, so he will need to have some sort of base nearer to BS3 if as I expect, he signs on for longer than this season.

Interesting too that his habit of giving long, slowly delivered answers crops up, it is clearly simply a device, rather than something that he does naturally.

Final point I see no indication he has “gone off the boil” he knows there is a lot of sorting out to do here and gives every sign of being up for it.

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3 minutes ago, GrahamC said:

 

This occurred to me about him after the turgid Blackburn draw recently & with his holiday home being near Ivybridge. Say he finished his media duties by 10pm and they got back to Bristol by 1am, he then has a further two hour drive to get home, which for a 57 year old after a strenuous evening is not sustainable long term, so he will need to have some sort of base nearer to BS3 if as I expect, he signs on for longer than this season.

Looking at houses in Nailsea apparently.. 

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2 hours ago, Rudolf Hucker said:

I think that from reading this, it’s evident why NP wanted to take a good, long look at our club, it’s structure and especially owner before accepting the long term challenge of the role. He was clearly damaged by his experience with Mel Morris at Derby and likely again by the basket-case ownership of Watford, that he wanted to ascertain whether he can work and wants to work under SL. From what he’s said in his interviews to date, I think he’s been very pleased by what he’s seen and will be happy to take on the full time position. 
 

During my career, I worked for some great people but unfortunately, also for two awful, just awful managers (both French!). I know to my cost what working in a bad working environment can do for one’s psyche and how pleased and relieved I was to get out. Such experiences makes you cautious. He’ll have no problems working with SL and will enjoy his time with us (as I’m sure we will with him!).

At least no one can accuse SL of being French!

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4 hours ago, CheddarReds said:

“Before, he used to call Twitter ‘Twitter’. He used to hate it. He used to hate social media. Not hate… he just didn’t get it. But he understands now that this is life, it’s a massive part of football. The fact that he’s on social media is weird. So weird. But it’s a good thing too.”

 

What the hell does he call it now???

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3 hours ago, Banned User said:

Looking at houses in Nailsea apparently.. 

Plenty of lovely properties in Nailsea. Lots of players have lived here over the years and BT still does as does Micky Bell. Kieth Millen certainly used to although I’m not sure if he still does. Mark Shail lives around here as well - a familiar sight in town.

Nailsea is very handy for Failand - just a short drive up Belmont Hill.

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