It’ll feel odd to look at a Wrexham side without Shaun Pearson at the heart of the defence today. The skipper is such a talismanic figure at the back, and has seemed to be a permanent fixture in the side.
He has only missed 12 of the 117 games we have played since he arrived at the club in the Summer of 2017, and 7 of those were cases of him being rested for cup ties or dead rubber league matches.
Pearson missing away games is rare though: the empty performances at AFC Fylde in his first season with us were an early indication of his importance, not only as a captain, but as a leader. We suffered similarly in the FA Trophy that season, as Doug Tharme’s promise couldn’t compensate for the absence of his central defensive partner, James Hurst, as Mark Beck punished us. More recently, the worst performance of last season was the 3-1 capitulation at home to Barrow, in which the skipper was sorely missed.
In terms of conceding goals, missing Pearson doesn’t appear to be too costly on the surface of it: since his arrival we’ve conceded goals at a rate of 0.94 a game when Pearson has played, and exactly one per game when he was absent. Beware of statistics drawn from small sample sizes though: 12 matches are not enough to draw a real conclusion, especially when many of the games are played between two under-strength sides. We do lose more often in his absence, for what it’s worth, 41% to 36%.
It’s not just a defender we lose when Pearson isn’t playing though. It may be impossible to quantify, but clearly his drive, passion and insistence that team mates live up to his exacting standards are massively missed. Perhaps this was emphasised when he partnered the classy but quiet Manny Smith, but all teams need leaders, and Pearson is the epitome of that role.