For some time now the Wigan Athletic defence has looked in need of a leader with physical presence, someone who can outmuscle those big strikers that so many Championship clubs have.
Malky Mackay obviously recognized that by initially bringing in the combative Liam Ridgewell on loan, but now he has acquired another rugged central defender, this one on a permanent contract.
The 27 year old Jason Pearce started his career as an apprentice at Portsmouth in 2004. Over his three years at Pompey he did not make a first team appearance but had loan spells at Bognor Regis and Woking. As a 20 year old he joined Bournemouth, where he was to make 162 appearances in four years. In his third season he had helped the Cherries get promotion to League 1, being named captain midway through the season. The following season Bournemouth reached the playoffs, when Pearce was sent off in a match they eventually lost on penalties to Huddersfield. Despite his expulsion in that crucial game, Pearce was named Player of the Year for that 2009-10 season.
Strangely enough Pearce was resigned by Portsmouth in June 2011. He made 43 appearances that season, taking over as captain in March and gaining the Player of the Year award. However, due to their dire financial position Portsmouth had to sell him and he joined Leeds United in May 2012. He made 41 appearances for Leeds in the Championship the following season, then 49 in 2013-14.
In order to find out more about Pearce’s time at Leeds we reached out to a couple of fan sites. We were happy to receive submissions from both Kevin of Leeds United Mad @LeedsUnited_MAD) and Adam of the Marching on Together site forum (@motforum).
Thanks to Kevin and his site for the post below:
Jason Pearce was former United manager Neil Warnock’s first long-term signing in May 2012 when he joined the club from Portsmouth. He was highly-rated at the time and it was considered a coup that he joined the Whites.
Pearce, who started his career at Fratton Park as a trainee before moving along the coast to Bournemouth, was named Portsmouth’s Player of the Year in 2011/12 and won seven of the nine supporters’ awards.
The player had gained his reputation at Bournemouth, where he spent four years, skippering the side, before returning to Pompey at the start of the 2011/12 season in a £500,000 deal.
Initially his tough-tackling no-nonsense nature was a big hit with the Elland Road support but lately his indecision at times was a frustration, even though he was made skipper at the start of the season.
Therefore, when Liam Cooper and the erratic Giuseppe Bellusci forged a partnership when Pearce was suspended, it was generally thought it was better for the United defence. The signing of Sol Bamba seemed to be a suggestion that Pearce was no longer required and a move away seemed to be the logical conclusion for a player with a year left on his contract.
In short, capable when on form and marking a bog-standard centre forward but weaknesses appear when he is up against a more skilful opponent.
Thanks to Adam and his site for this fan’s view:
Signed in 2012 from Portsmouth Pearce was at the heart of Neil Warnock’s squad rebuilding. You cannot question Jason Pearce’s commitment, there can’t be many harder working players out there prepared to but their body on the line for the cause. He will fling himself in front of any ball, foot, man, post to deny a goal with little regard for himself. He will play on bloody and bruised with his head bandaged up. As captain of both Portsmouth and Leeds he was prepared to take responsibility, go get players going, he is a leader.
For all his commitment and strength he is a limited player though. Leeds major deficiency over the past few seasons had been our defence and Pearce has been at the heart of that. His positioning has a lot to be desired and he has a habit of panicking under pressure and slicing the ball straight to an opposition player. For all the points he saved us by heroically throwing himself in front of the ball he probably cost us just as many with his mishaps.
Pearce has slipped down the order at Leeds following the signings of Giuseppe Bellusci and Liam Cooper and with Sol Bamba coming in on load this week his opportunities for the latter part of the season would have been limited. Leeds fans love Pearce for his commitment but I can’t say many will miss him for his footballing ability. Mind you we said the same about Tom Lees and he’s gone on to be one of Sheffield Wednesday’s best players this season since we sold him to them back in August.