End of 2013/14 season: Nigel Pearson has just guided Leicester to the Championship title.
Meanwhile, Derby County have finished the season 3rd, and are preparing to take part in the play-offs, a lottery with the glittering prize of Premier League football for the upcoming season.
Fast forward two and a half years. Pearson’s future as Derby County boss is hanging in the balance, having had a major row with owner Mel Morris.
They sit in the Championship relegation zone, with the club in, and it would be no exaggeration to say, complete and utter disarray.
Of course, we all know what happened in those play-offs of 2014/15, with Bobby Zamora infamously denying a Steve McClaren Derby side deserved promotion to the promised land, resulting in QPR coming out on top.
And since then, even with the constant stream of money that has been ploughed into the club by owner Morris, two further attempts at promotion have come and gone, the former coming under McClaren again, and the second failure being controlled by Paul Clement, and after his sacking, Darren Wassall.
As this drama was unfolding at Derby, Pearson endured a rollercoaster two years himself. Having miraculously kept Leicester in the Premier League, with a scintillating run of form towards the end of the season guiding them to safety.
However, with his son being involved in a Thai sex scandal in the pre-season of the following year, Leicester deemed his position untenable, and duly sacked him. This left him without a job, a scenario that wouldn’t have been envisaged a year before.
And that’s where their paths crossed. With Derby desperately searching for a saviour to finally earn them promotion, and Pearson looking to prove himself once more, his appointment in July seemed the match made in heaven.
So how has it gone so horribly wrong?
Firstly, even with the endless financial backing from Morris, the players at the club don’t seem to have the mentality to succeed.
Perhaps they are scarred from the previous seasons, or maybe they have just not gelled, that we will never know, but there has been something not right over the past two months.
Whilst he is not entirely responsible, a large proportion of the blame does have to go to Pearson. This is the base of the squad who finished 5th in the Championship last season, and for someone with his experience and reputation as a man-manager, the results have quite simply not been good enough.
And even with the endless financial support provided by him towards the club, Mel Morris is also slightly at fault for this catastrophe. There is only so much money can do, and having allegedly interfered with Paul Clement’s running of affairs last season, he probably jeopardised any chance they had of promotion last season. He seems to have not learnt the lesson this year, although in the circumstances, it is probably a little more justified.
So that leaves us at a conclusion that the playing staff, the manager and also the owner are responsible for Derby’s fiasco. Although every year it has looked up for them, each year the club, and its many thousands of fans, have been let down.
Flashback those two and a half years. A lot rosier for all parties, don’t you think?