Why did Leicester fire maverick manager Nigel Pearson?
Foxes boss gets the boot after controversial season that ended with amazing escape from relegation and a 'racist orgy'
Even by the trigger-happy standards of the Premier League, it must be a first. A full five weeks before the new season starts and Leicester City have sacked manager Nigel Pearson.
A statement released by the Leicester board on Tuesday evening attempted to explain why they had parted company with the man who masterminded a miraculous escape from relegation last season as the Foxes win seven of their final ten league games.
Having first thanked the 51-year-old Pearson for three-and-a-half years of service, the statement continued: "However, it has become clear to the club that fundamental differences in perspective exist between us. Regrettably, the club believes that the working relationship between Nigel and the board is no longer viable."
Recognising that the dismissal of Pearson is unlikely to be well received by the majority of City supporters, the statement emphasised that the club's owners - Thai businessmen Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha - remain "wholly committed to the club's long-term development and to ongoing investment in a squad that will continue to be competitive in the Premier League".
It pleaded with fans to "recognise that the owners have always acted with the best interests of the club at heart and with the club's long-term future as their greatest priority".
In truth Pearson's dismissal has been a long time coming. He has increasingly come to be seen as a maverick in football management. Last season his unique style was illustrated by an unsavoury touchline clash with James McArthur during Leicester's defeat to Crystal Palace and subsequent row with Leicester legend Gary Lineker.
The there was his bizarre performance at a press conference in April when he called a local reporter an "an ostrich". And he also found time to tell one of his own supporters to "f*** off and die" at the end of the home match with Liverpool.
Nonetheless he salvaged City's season, hauling them off the bottom of the league table as they embarked on a winning streak that included the scalps of Southampton and Swansea. They finished the season 14th and then headed to Thailand for an end of season jolly, which unfortunately ended in a PR disaster, and proved the catalyst for his dismissal.
Three players, including Pearson's son, James, were filmed taking part in an orgy and making racist remarks about one of the Thai women. The trio were sacked last month. The incident was deeply embarrassing for the club's owners who came close to firing Pearson during the last campaign.
The involvement of manager's son in the incident "was the final straw in the deteriorating relationship between the owners and Pearson", reports the BBC.
Reaction to the news of Pearson's sacking was one of incredulity. Former Leicester striker turned Match of the Day host Gary Lineker tweeted: "WTF! Could you kindly reinstate him... getting LCFC promoted and the greatest escape ever, Pearson is sacked? Are the folk running football stupid? Yes."
Lineker's Match of Day colleague – and former England forward – Alan Shearer posted a similar message on Twitter: "Funny game that management lark," he said. "You achieve the almost impossible and then you're sacked ! #staggering."