LONDON, July 1- Nigel Pearson’s exit as Leicester manager via a phone call has caught most by surprise.
The official reason, posted via a statement on the club’s website, was “fundamental differences in perspective” between manager and board.
A BBC report has since claimed that Pearson’s dismissal was linked to his son’s role in a sexually-explicit video, during which racist language was used, which led to James Pearson and two other players being sacked.
Pearson’s time in charge had looked to be up during Leicester’s 13-game winless slump over the Christmas and New Year period and the 51-year-old appeared to have been sacked in February after a tame home loss to Crystal Palace, but within hours he was reinstated.
Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha had relieved Pearson of his duties, only for his son Aiyawatt to offer a reprieve.
At the time, the increasingly vociferous cries of the fans to replace Pearson were simply down to poor results.
Leicester weren’t playing terribly, but results just hadn’t gone their way since September’s astonishing 5-3 comeback victory over Manchester United.
Allied with a lack of points, though, was Pearson’s questionable conduct. During a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in December he told one Foxes supporter to “F— off and die” and then refused to apologise.
While in the aforementioned 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, he wrestled James McArthur to the ground, then tried to laugh off the confrontation.
Then there was his frosty relationship with the press, including that now infamous “ostrich” rant after an April loss to Chelsea.
Add these incidents together and they would constitute gross misconduct in almost any other profession.
Yet because Leicester’s owners didn’t act quickly enough there was no ready replacement available.
Tony Pulis (West Brom), Alan Pardew (Crystal Palace) and Tim Sherwood (Aston Villa) were all taken, so the call was made to give Pearson until the end of the season.
This risk emphatically paid off as Leicester’s miraculous escape from relegation was secured with seven wins from their final nine games.
The run made it hard to believe Pearson might depart during the offseason and was followed by the club spending £3 million to sign Robert Huth from Stoke and a further £7 million on Japan striker Shinji Okazaki, who had been a target for almost two years.
Whatever the real reasons are for his departure, Pearson’s exit is nothing short of acrimonious. He was sacked, after all, as opposed to leaving by mutual consent.
This is also not the first board he has fallen out with either. He didn’t get on with ex-chairman Milan Mandaric and former chief executive Lee Hoos and, in 2010, left for Hull after a dispute over the club’s funds and ambition. He returned in November 2011.
When the dust settles Leicester fans won’t remember Pearson’s bullish antics while his smugness will slowly become endearing (just like the ostrich rant has).
All that will remain are fond memories of two promotions and arguably the Premier League’s greatest-ever escape.
Like him or loathe him, Pearson truly cared. His methods can be criticised, but his achievements at the club speak for themselves. He is thus, in his own way, one of Leicester’s finest managers and surely won’t have any problems finding another job.
As for his replacement, former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, ex-Foxes midfielder Neil Lennon and Harry Redknapp will all now be linked with Pearson’s vacancy.
Meanwhile, the self-appointed “best coach in the Premier League” John Carver could also apply, but hopefully won’t be in the frame.
It’s a shame Mark Warburton recently took over at Rangers, otherwise the former Leicester trainee could also have been a serious contender.
One thing is for sure, though: the next Leicester boss is likely to be a little more placid, prepared to toe the party line and, where necessary and if you pardon the pun, bury his head in the sand.
-By Leicester City fan Ben Jacobs, a sports presenter for the Arabian Radio Network as published on Soccernet.com