It was probably around the time on Saturday when he appeared to throttle a player on the touchline that it became obvious Nigel Pearson had lost his stranglehold on the Leicester City manager’s job. So it was no surprise when he was relieved of his duties in the wake of a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace that left the Foxes bottom of the English Premier League standings and meant that the sports term “choker” had left the realm of metaphor and entered the real world.
Except that he wasn’t fired after the incident with James McArthur, even though everyone thought he had been… Pearson included.
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The decision to stick with Pearson, at least for now, seems bizarre. Normally managers only get away with assaulting players when the team’s doing well. And this isn’t his first controversial moment of the season. Pearson was fined 10,000 pounds in December for a run-in with a fan. Given Palace manager Alan Pardew’s own rap sheet, the sideline at the King Power Stadium last weekend was probably the most dangerous place in Britain.
Pearson held a press conference on Monday, in which he said nothing revealing and didn’t even try to fight anyone.
Leicester play Arsenal on Tuesday. Should Pearson go, bookmakers have installed current Ireland manager Martin O’Neill as favorite to replace him. Given O’Neill’s storied history with the club – he took it into the Premier League in 1995 and it twice won the League Cup during his five-year spell – he’d be a nostalgic choice. But not a calm and relaxed presence in the technical area.