Nigel Pearson’s tumultuous reign in charge of Leicester City was brought to an end on Tuesday night after he was sacked because of “fundamental differences in perspective” between the club’s owner and the manager. In a club statement that came like a bolt from the blue Leicester’s Thai owners made it clear that the damage was irreparable and that their working relationship with Pearson had totally broken down.
While the club chose not to go into the deeper reasons behind a decision that had been brewing at various stages last season – Pearson was informed in February that he was out of a job only to be told that he was back in work a few hours later – focus will inevitably fall on that ill-fated end-of-season “goodwill” tour to Thailand, where three Leicester players, including the manager’s son, James, were accused of taking part in a racist sex tape.
Pearson Jr, Tom Hopper and Adam Smith all had their contracts terminated after the club investigated the allegations that the players had racially abused and made other offensive comments to women with whom they were engaging in sex acts in a hotel room. The whole episode was a huge embarrassment to Leicester, who are owned by the Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Aiyawatt, his son.
Whether the fall-out from that unsavoury incident contributed significantly to Pearson’s dismissal remains to be seen. It is clear, though, that Vichai and Aiyawatt were no longer willing to tolerate Pearson being in charge of their football club and that there was only one course of action in their eyes.
A club statement said: “The board of directors recognises the success Nigel has helped to bring to Leicester City during his two spells in charge of the club, particularly during the last three and a half years. 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.
Pearson, who was in his second spell as Leicester manager after returning from Hull City in November 2011, was backed in the transfer market this summer. He brought in Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth and Shinji Okazaki and there was no hint among the staff close to him that he might be out of job anytime soon.
Leicester have placed Steve Walsh and Craig Shakespeare, the joint assistant managers, in temporary charge of first-team duties while they begin the process of recruiting a replacement for Pearson.