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March 7, 2013 / ultrafox1963

Pearson feels heat as City continue to splutter

Leicester striker Chris Wood - can he turn around side's floundering fortunes?

Leicester striker Chris Wood – can he turn around side’s faltering fortunes?

Right now, Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson appears a troubled man at a troubled club.

His angry public exchange with one of his numerous vocal critics, in the aftermath of Tuesday’s draw with Leeds, summed up the tension threatening to engulf the King Power Stadium as the Championship season enters a critical stage.

Revelations of spectacular financial losses last season – approaching £30 million – and a points tally of just 5 points from the last 6 league games – have helped to create an apprehensive mood among sections of the Foxes fanbase.

Pearson may have been able to dissuade local media scribes from asking awkward questions about his recent team selections and tactics.

But long-suffering supporters who have witnessed a succession of overpaid, underachieving managers in Leicester over the past decade will not be so easily silenced.

The present incumbent’s insistence on overloading the side with rookies – 8 of the side that started the recent game at Ipswich were aged 23 or younger – is causing particular concern.

Many of these players, although clearly talented, have often struggled to find consistency in recent weeks while competing in one of world football’s most physically demanding leagues.

Yet Pearson’s refusal to consider rotating his squad has left City vulnerable, particularly in away games where results have often fell way short of expectations.

Indeed, the Foxes have recorded fewer league wins on the road this season than minnows Peterborough. With trips to four out of the league’s top eight sides still awaiting, the prospects of improving such dismal form appear gloomy.

Pearson has been notably less reticent in finding excuses for poor performances, citing sub-standard pitches and questionable refereeing decisions following recent setbacks at Blackpool and Ipswich. However these factors are hardly unknown in the lower leagues, nor do they affect one club alone.

While this is not the first Leicester City side to suffer a crisis of confidence during a promotion challenge, successful predecessors possessed a core of battle-hardened, resilient professionals who proved able to endure setbacks and recover from them. There is precious little evidence to suggest such capabilities exist within the current line-up.

There is also no excuse for City to trail eight points behind Watford – a club with far fewer resources whose manager, Gianfranco Zola, has built a side virtually from scratch during his first season at this level. Other managers of promotion rivals have also attained improvements in fortunes far more quickly than Pearson has achieved in the past 16 months.

Having spent much of the season in eager anticipation of a top-two finish, City are now in serious peril of failing to secure even the consolation of a playoff spot.

The denial of a place on the Premier League gravy train, worth a minimum of £70m in TV income alone next season, would be a hammer blow to owners and fans alike, especially in the light of continuing substantial financial losses.

Pearson has already been given more opportunities to secure promotion than have historically been afforded to City managers. The case for granting him another one would be untenable.

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