Pearson still at Leicester, but statement offers little support
Reports of Pearson's demise were greatly exaggerated but he appears to be running out of friends
Nigel Pearson remains manager of Leicester City, at least for the time being, after a weekend of confusion following reports that he had been sacked from his post by the club's owners.
Rumours began to circulate on social media on Sunday afternoon claiming Pearson had been fired in the wake of the Foxes' defeat by Crystal Palace and his involvement in a bizarre a touchline altercation with Palace player James McCarthy.
The player collided with Leicester manager and the two men fell to the ground, and Pearson appeared to grab McArthur by the throat. When the pair stood up Pearson held the player by the shirt as they exchanged words. When asked about the incident after the game Pearson gave a cryptic response, and stated: "I'm more than capable of looking after myself."
The flare-up, it was reported, was too much for the club's owner, Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. He was already concerned about Pearson's behaviour after he was fined and given a touchline ban in December for telling a Leicester fan to "f*** off and die". Now, according to the rumours, he had taken action and dismissed Pearson.
Many media organisations reported on Pearson's departure, pundits had their say and bookies even opened the betting on who would take over at the King Power Stadium, with Martin O'Neill and Neil Lennon installed as favourites.
But the news had not been officially confirmed and after several hours of confusion the club released a statement declaring the reports "inaccurate and without foundation" and announcing that Pearson remained in charge.
However, the bald statement was hardly a ringing endorsement of Pearson and fell well short of offering him any real backing. Instead it stated: "Nigel, his staff and the first-team squad are entirely focused on Tuesday night's trip to Arsenal and our continued efforts to secure our position in the Barclays Premier League."
Against that backdrop, Pearson's long-term future remains uncertain.
Pearson was summoned to a meeting with the City board after the game, says the Daily Telegraph. "Poor results have been a major concern" for the club, it says, while "incidents like the row on Saturday with Crystal Palace’s James McArthur are a growing cause for disquiet".
Others say that Pearson himself believed he was leaving. "It was a strange series of events to say the least, almost farcical, and that statement offered little explanation for what had gone on earlier in the day and why it had taken so long to confirm whether Pearson was staying or going," says The Guardian. "Pearson, make no mistake, had thought his time at the King Power Stadium was up."