Alan Biggs at Large: Ex-Wednesday star Nigel Pearson is a born leader and surely, there is no escape from Manager of Year award

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson.
Leicester boss Nigel Pearson.
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Nigel Pearson might even be reading this - he still lives in Sheffield, you see. Then again, he’s probably turning the page as we speak.

That’s because one of the secrets of the Leicester manager’s astounding relegation escape is distancing - and insulating - himself from what the world says about him.

Jose Mourinho would be proud of Pearson's antics, to deflect the limelight from his players

Jose Mourinho would be proud of Pearson's antics, to deflect the limelight from his players

You might think that’s a strange thing to say of a man who, variously during the last season, publicly raged at a Leicester supporter, tangled with an opposition player on the touchline and called a journalist an “ostrich” in a post-match rant.

Sheffield Wednesday’s former trophy-winning captain has been something of a contradiction, never one for over-statement in steady-as-you-go media comment and yet attracting huge attention, however unwittingly or unwillingly, to his own sideshow.

Anyone who knows him will tell you he didn’t want any of that and yet, as a very intelligent guy, there was a part of him that embraced it during Leicester’s safety surge.

Becoming the centre of the story and keeping the pressure off the players is straight out of the Jose Mourinho manual of management. But there is a huge difference here. I’d suggest Mourinho enjoys the attention whereas Pearson certainly doesn’t.

Stopping short of Gary Lineker’s “a bit weird” in what was a slightly back-handed salute to a wonderful achievement, you’d have to say Nigel is quite a complex character.

In a successful management career spanning other remarkable escapes [Southampton and Carlisle], Pearson has always shunned the cult of the personality boss.

But he’s struck me as a born leader from the day he joined Howard Wilkinson’s top flight Wednesday from Shrewsbury as a 24-year-old in 1987, subsequently to win promotion and the League Cup under Ron Atkinson.

Those who’ve known him from that time don’t readily recognise the man who can be unnecessarily surly and contemptuous in media dealings.

You wonder here if there is a slight rub-off from the Wilkinson of those days, albeit that Pearson clearly learned well from the far more plentiful better traits of one of the Owls’ finest managers of modern times.

Back then, though, these exchanges weren’t reported, let alone being part of the show. What’s beyond doubt is that Nigel is his own man and a very fine manager whose players would clearly run through the proverbial brick wall for him; another thing he shares in common with Wilko.

As for personal style, I find a key similarity with his one-time Hillsborough team mate Gary Megson.

They are very different, but fellow Sheffield resident Megson also insisted on staying put while managing West Brom and Bolton.

Both have found it important to leave the hothouse behind and maintain a sanity-restoring quality to their personal lives.

Pearson will probably be retreating from the clamour for him to be crowned Manager of the Year but, Nigel, there is surely no escape from that one!