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Saturday 16 December 2017

Nigel Pearson to hang on to job for now after bizarre pitchside choking row

Under pressure: Nigel Pearson gets his hands round the throat of James McArthur
Under pressure: Nigel Pearson gets his hands round the throat of James McArthur

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson will lead his team into Tuesday's clash with Arsenal after holding on to his job.

A turbulent weekend at the King Power Stadium ended with Leicester denying reports Pearson had been sacked.

Pearson led the Foxes to the Championship title last season, but his team have picked up just 17 points from their opening 24 matches of the current Barclays Premier League campaign and sit at the foot of the table.

Sky Sports News HQ reported Pearson had been dismissed, and Leicester offered no comment for several hours until issuing a statement to say the 51-year-old remained in his job.

The statement, published on the club's official website, read: "Leicester City Football Club would like to clarify its position relative to its manager, Nigel Pearson.

"Contrary to media speculation on Sunday evening, Nigel remains the club's first team manager. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and without foundation.

"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."

The former Southampton and Hull boss was involved in a bizarre incident in Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace.

He was knocked over on the touchline by Palace midfielder James McArthur after a tackle by Marc Albrighton, resulting in what was initially a friendly exchange between the Foxes boss and Scottish player.

Pearson even playfully grabbed McArthur around the throat before helping him to his feet, only to then prevent him from returning to the pitch by grabbing hold of his shirt.

Former Leicester striker Gary Lineker, now host of BBC show Match of the Day, saw Sunday's reports and thought Pearson was on his way out.

Lineker wrote on Twitter: "Not overly surprised that Nigel Pearson has been fired by Leicester, given they're bottom, but he's been a very good manager of the club.

"Not sure if yesterday's bizarre touchline behaviour had anything to do with Pearson's exit, but certainly shows how the job gets to 'em all."

Lineker later questioned why Leicester had been so slow to knock down claims of Pearson's exit.

Pearson began his second spell as Leicester manager in November 2011. His side amassed 102 points last season as they dominated the Championship, but the step up has been difficult.

A stirring 5-3 home win over Manchester United in September augured well, but Leicester's next victory did not arrive until Pearson's charges faced his former club Hull on December 28.

A draw against Liverpool and win over Aston Villa followed, but successive defeats by Stoke, Manchester United and Palace cast new doubt over their survival chances.

Pearson is due to hold a pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon.

Speaking 24 hours before conjecture over his future began, Pearson said: "My job and the way I operate is exactly the same as last year, and the year before and the year before that.

"I am a part of a process at the football club, and we are trying to turn the club into a competitive Premier League side, which has been going on since I returned to the club just over three years ago."

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