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September 1, 2012 / ultrafox1963

Brewers leave Pearson with massive hangover

Paul Konchesky appears bemused by Tuesday’s events. He isn’t alone…

Leicester City had a glorious chance to end their two-game losing streak on Tuesday. But they did not take it.

A home League Cup tie against struggling fourth-tier opponents Burton Albion, whom City had already beaten comfortably in a pre-season friendly, looked to be the perfect opportunity to return to winning ways.

However the visitors had other ideas, upsetting the odds to inflict a 4-2 defeat that severely damaged the confidence of the Foxes fanbase and raised fresh concerns about the future of manager Nigel Pearson.

Only three times in their previous history since World War Two – against York (1961), Harlow (1980) and Rotherham (2008) – have City been defeated by opponents of such lowly status. This was the first occasion on home soil.

Although it was noted, in attempts at mitigation, that Pearson had rested many of his first-team regulars, the side he fielded should still have seen off the brewers with some ease.

11 of the 14 City players involved in the horror show possess either full international or Premier League experience (and in several cases, both). Yet the side’s display, both individually and collectively, fell well short of acceptable standards.

Several fringe players failed to grasp the chance to press for a place in the regular starting 11. Indeed, some of them performed so poorly as to place their immediate futures in doubt.

It was widely expected that a number would leave the club before the summer transfer window closed. However, although the departures eventually failed to materialise, the outcasts may not be seen in league action for some time, at least for City.

Pearson was honest enough to accept full responsibility for this shambolic evening. But its repercussions could linger, not least among fans based in North-West Leicestershire and South Derbyshire, who will endure jibes and taunts from neighbours for months to come.

In addition, further doubts have been voiced about whether Pearson has the required qualities to lead City back to the Premier League and all its attendant riches. Despite the extensive changes in playing personnel during his ten months in charge, recent evidence indicates a dressing room as divided and dispirited as it was under his two predecessors.

In addition, a record of just 17 points from 17 away games (a ratio below that in the 2007-08 relegation season) suggests that Pearson’s progress is rather less pronounced than many of his online advocates proclaim.

It is possible, perhaps even likely, that City may bounce back with a win at home to Championship pace-setters Blackpool in front of a live TV audience. But while such a victory would dispel many of the storm clouds gathering over Filbert Way, the underlying tensions will still remain.

Unless City can conjure up a winning streak, in away games as well as home ones, the club’s Thai owners may conclude that Pearson has passed the point of no return.

During the coming weeks, both the team and its manager face a significant test of character – which neither can afford to fail.

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