It was reported this afternoon that Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson will still be the Foxes’ manager for the start of the 2013-14 season, extinguishing speculation that he was to be relieved of his duties.
It was reported by the Leicester Mercury as well as national newspapers that the Englishman will be given time next season to make another promotion push, despite missing out on this year’s place in the Premier League.
City reached the Championship play-offs after a dramatic 2-3 win away at arch rivals Nottingham Forest, booking them a place in the semi-finals against third placed Watford. Gianfranco Zola’s side only missed out on automatic promotion on the last day of the season, with Hull taking second place in the league behind champions Cardiff City.
Leicester went 1-0 up in the home leg against Watford with a David Nugent header giving his team an advantage going into the game in London two days later. But it proved to be not enough as the Hornets edged out a nerve-racking game as they won 3-2 after an unbelievable goal in the dying minutes of the game after Anthony Knockaert missed his penalty, an event which some of the Foxes faithful have only just come to terms with.
The result meant that Pearson’s future was put into to jeopardy as the media has a field day speculating on his replacement, with images of former City player Neil Lennon present at the Watford game allegedly confirming his desire to rejoin the club where he made over 170 appearances. But these reports proved to be false as the Northern Irishman later reiterated his ambition to remain at Scottish giants Celtic. Days later Gus Poyet was suspended from his role at Brighton, supposedly over “disagreements over budgets”, but this just fueled the speculation and the Uruguayan was subsequently linked with Leicester.
But regardless of all of this the Foxes’ Thai owners did not back down and Nigel Pearson will be a Leicester man next season.
With Bolton reportedly ready to come in for City striker Jermaine Beckford, a mass exodus of players is going to be lead by Pearson and director of football Andrew Neville in the summer, with former regulars Paul Gallagher, Richie Wellens and Neil Danns expected to leave. This would pave the way for new signings, and with Pearson set to be given a substantial transfer budget, some well known players are reportedly ready to make a move to the King Power Stadium in the near future.
Beckford and Danns are both signings from the Sven-Goran Eriksson era at Leicester and are allegedly on contracts worth at least £20,000 a week. Players getting hefty pay packets such as this are preventing Pearson from signing his preferred targets and a clear out would allow key players to be brought in. Danns has also had fall outs with the manager in the past and supposedly creates a “bad atmosphere” in the dressing room.
Nigel Pearson has had three full seasons with Leicester City – in his first year he saw his team lift the League One trophy whilst in the second year he made an immediate impact in the Championship, getting into the play-offs and losing in the semi-finals to Cardiff after a memorable penalty from former-Fox Yann Kermorgant, now at Charlton with ex-City player Chris Powell. Pearson left the club that summer, citing “relationship issues” with owner Milan Mandaric and executive Lee Hoos, joining recently relegated Hull City.
But he returned a year and a half later, and with Mandaric and Hoos no longer at the club he was ready for a new chapter in his career. The 2012-13 season was his first full season back at Leicester and the new owners, the Srivaddhanaprabha family, feel progress has been made at the club since Pearson’s return.
With backing from the board in the summer the Foxes are certain to sign young, hungry players – a philosophy Pearson works by. He has already proved he can work well in the transfer market – youngsters Ben Marshall, Anthony Knockaert and Matty James are all signings of Pearson and their market value has increased significantly due to their potential shown over the last season. And with Financial Fair Play rules coming in next term, getting rid of the ‘dead wood’ and continuing with his theory of signing young players and exposing their potential, Pearson looks to be a real asset to Leicester and sticking with him could prove to be integral to the club’s long and short term future.
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