Nigel Pearson has said his return to football management with Derby County “felt right” and fits in with his management background.
The 52-year-old has been out of work since being sacked by Premier League champions Leicester City in June 2015.
But he was appointed as manager of the Championship club on a three-year-deal at the end of May.
“It feels right. There is an emphasis on developing the whole of the football club,” Pearson said.
Managing to get ‘the right fit’
Pearson said his Rams role enables him to be involved in helping to shape the future of the club behind the scenes, and not focus solely on first-team matters.
“One of the most important things on my return was to start again at a club where I felt it was the right fit, where I was excited about being back in management,” Pearson said.
“The club has the foundations in place, not just in terms of the squad but in the infrastructure and facilities. We all have aspirations to continue to develop the club on lots of different levels.
“That is important because my background in management is one in which I try to affect the club in many ways.
“As a manager you will you always be judged on results and that is something you will always be aware of, but the bigger picture is there are lots of elements to a successful club and I take great pride in being part of that development. That is why I feel it is a good fit.”
Derby were beaten in the Championship play-off semi-finals by Hull City last season, the third season in a row that they have failed to live up to their billing as one of the favourites for promotion.
In 2013-14, the Rams lost in the play-off final to Queens Park Rangers, while they missed out on the play-offs completely in 2014-15 when they suffered a home defeat against Reading on the final day of the season.
“The squad has potential and although the club have come close to promotion on a number of occasions, there is still room for improvement,” the Nottingham-born former Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough defender said.
“It is really important to look forward with an optimistic outlook.
“Whenever you take over a football club in the Championship with stature, and Derby is certainly a club with stature, then that [promotion] is one of the main aims.
“The timeframe is always going to be debatable but the infrastructure is such that it’s important we maximise what we have here already.
“The squad is in a pretty healthy state, that is not to say there won’t be tweaks to that. But first and foremost it’s about assessing the squad we have.
“We want to get promotion and that is never easy in what is an exceptionally competitive league.”
Managing in a previous life
Pearson has been given credited for setting Leicester on the path to their astonishing Premier League title win last season.
Many of the key players of Claudio Ranieri’s champions were signed by Pearson, including captain Wes Morgan and current England striker Jamie Vardy, who joined for £1m from Fleetwood Town in 2012.
Pearson’s second spell as manager culminated in a phenomenal end to the season which saw them avoid relegation thanks to a run of seven wins and one draw from their last 10 games.
But he was sacked at the end of the season and was reluctant to talk about his thoughts on his former team’s success.
“It’s a fantastic story and it’s a story that gives a lot of clubs hope for the future,” Pearson said.
“I have purposely not been seeking to be in the public domain. I have my views on the story and I am delighted that they have continued to progress.
“It really is an amazing story but I am here to speak about being the manager of Derby County.
“My main concern and focus is about getting to grips with this job and using my experiences with my previous jobs to help.”
Managing the manager
Having once again dismissed talk that he had interfered with team selection, chairman Mel Morris was quick to praise his new manager’s character and no-nonsense reputation.
“I like the fact that he is a strong guy,” Morris said. “You can have a discussion and don’t need to dance around things.
“I like Nigel’s approach to that. You end a conversation knowing you have finalised that point and there is nothing hanging over.
“We had a lot of very, very high-calibre candidates but we interviewed Nigel and the way he spoke about football and about the need to build the club really struck a chord with us.
“The fit is uncannily good.”
Pearson said he will assess the playing staff before thinking too much about adding to his squad, something which Morris indicated he would back.
“Of course, if he wants to make tweaks, then we’ll look to support that, while working within the guidelines [of Financial Fair Play],” Morris added.
“But certainly if he needs support, he will get the support he needs.”