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To Hull and back

Beags reviews the latest talking points in the Football League

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 17th November 2011 view comments

Finally the deal is done and Nigel Pearson is back at Leicester City.

The club's new hierarchy understand he is respected by fans, players and board members alike and but for a clash of personalities with a previous chief executive he may never have left for Hull. Well, now he has the chance to finish what he started.

Pearson: back in Foxes hotseat

Pearson: back in Foxes hotseat

In his first spell he took them from their lowest point in League One to the heights of the Championship play-offs. Since then he's literally been to Hull and back (a little bit like Del Boy and Rodney...) and after a couple of seasons away they will want him to continue as before.

He had them on the brink of the Premier League, missing out on the Play-Off Final on penalties, and that is where the board sees the club. They've always had the fanbase and the stadium you would expect of a top-flight team, but unlike in Pearson's previous spell, they now have the funding to match.

The club have put together a huge package for him and have made a big financial commitment, which shows their faith in him and sends a clear message to the fans.

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Millwall v Bristol City
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I also think he is ready in himself to move up to the next level and he will see this as a big opportunity. The club have put together a huge package for him and have made a big financial commitment, which shows their faith in him and sends a clear message to the fans.

They're not exactly admitting that they made a mistake with Sven-Goran Eriksson and his signings from all over Europe, but they have now opted for a more grounded approach. Pearson has people like Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh in his backroom staff who have knowledge and experience of all the divisions and also have links to the club.

There's still plenty of the season left and they will have the loan system and another transfer window in order to add to the talented squad that he has at his disposal. In many ways, this is every manager's dream job.

You could also say the same about Hull's caretaker manager Nick Barmby.

He is a local boy and is Hull through and through - only Dean Windass could be regarded as more synonymous with the club - and it looks like the end of his playing career and the start of his managerial career will be with his hometown side.

His affinity for Hull is similar to what we see with Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough and Dougie Freedman at Crystal Palace, both of whom have done well. Things had been ticking along nicely under Pearson and with Barmby being used more as a substitute than a starting player, it made sense to hand him the reins for a while. They've given him an opportunity and they can monitor how it goes.

This is the ideal scenario for him because when he looks around the dressing room he'll see players that he knows inside out, having stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the field through good and bad.

He has a nice blend of youth and experience and it's up to him to make the most of that. There can be no excuses over his man-management skills because he knows what all these guys will be thinking, having seen them day in, day out in training and in match situations.

Both Pearson and Barmby have been presented with amazing opportunities at clubs with great infrastructures. I wish them both well.

Millwall v Bristol City
1pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1

It's always important to start the season well - and neither of these teams did that - but they have both shown form and character of late.

Millwall only won one of their opening 12 games and at one stage went five without a goal and nine without a win. They are sound defensively, but have struggled for goals following the sale of players like Steve Morison, injuries to John Marquis and Darius Henderson and a loss of form from James Henry.

However, they put that right and ahead of their last outing - a 1-0 loss to Blackpool - they managed 10 goals in a three-match streak. The return of Henderson and the arrival of Jay Simpson has started to silence the fans who were complaining about the sale of Morison to Norwich.

Things are looking up for them now and we saw them emerge from a slump last season to go on a magnificent run to the brink of the play-offs. I fully expect them to pull clear of the relegation zone this time too.

The Old Den was always intimidating, but the new ground has become a fortress as well. They've only lost there once and 13 of their 18 points have come at home this season.

They'll look to capitalise on that against Bristol City, a side that Kenny Jackett has only lost against once in eight games. He even enjoyed his biggest win as Swansea boss against them - a 7-1 victory in 2005 - and the referee on that day was Tony Bates, who will take charge of this week's game.

Furthermore, Millwall's strikers have an incredible record against Bristol City. Henderson can boast six in seven games against them, while Simpson has three in his last three. The omens don't look good for Derek McInnes!

It will be a tough task for a side that sits three points adrift of safety. They went on a 10-game winless run earlier in the season, picking up just three points from a possible 30, culminating in Keith Millen losing his job.

He always had a tough task on his hands after taking over from Gary Johnson, but McInnes has now come in and his passionate and abrasive style seems to have turned things around. They are currently on a three-game unbeaten streak and have finally come to the boil.

McInnes has gone in with a no-nonsense 4-3-3 approach that seems to suit them more. He will use the pace of Albert Adomah, Yannick Bolasie and Nicky Maynard in the front three with a combative midfield of Stephen Pearson and Marvin Elliott either side of the ball-playing Neil Kilkenny.

We have come to expect this club to have a tight defence, but that hasn't been the case this year. They've lost some of their defensive mainstays and have been leaking goals for fun. The first goal in this game will be important because they don't tend to win when they concede first.

If Millwall are pushing forward then the incredible pace of Adomah on the break could be the biggest threat and I think we should get a really open game.

Forget about the pressure of languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship, I suspect both sides will be a bit braver and see this as an opportunity to get a big three points on the board.

And finally...

A quick mention for the sides in League One and League Two who made it into the second round of the FA Cup. In particular, I'd like to mention Bradford who are struggling in the league but have enjoyed cup wins over Sheffield United and Rochdale in the last week. Cups of cheer for Bantams fans!

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