Nigel Pearson's Leicester City future unclear amid speculation
LEICESTER, England -- Already under scrutiny for grabbing a player by the neck in a touchline confrontation, the manager of last-place Premier League team Leicester failed to clear up intense speculation that he had been fired then reinstated by the club's Thai owners.
The normally unflappable Nigel Pearson struggled Monday to bat away a barrage of questions about his future, arising from a confusing Sunday night when widespread reports that he had been dismissed were followed - four hours later - by a club statement saying he was still manager.
Pearson said he had ''conversations'' with the club's board but refused to divulge any more details. His entire focus, he said, was on Tuesday's Premier League match at Arsenal.
''I understand the interest and you wanting to ask questions,'' Pearson said at a news conference attended by more members of the media than usual at Leicester's Kingpower Stadium. ''But I have loyalties to the people I work for, my staff and the players, which really is more important to me than trying to clarify things for a story which was based on speculation.''
Pearson said he had had an ''interesting Sunday,'' but would not explain further,
''For reasons I don't want to talk about, I don't want to talk about it,'' Pearson said.
Pearson has been under pressure for some months, brought on not just by his team's position in the Premier League but also by his two incidents where a usually calm, controlled coach lost his cool.
In December, the 51-year-old Pearson was handed a one-match ban for using abusive language in an exchange with a Leicester fan during a match. He refuses to apologize for his part in the spat.
On Saturday, Pearson was at the center of a bizarre incident during Leicester's 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace, when he placed his hands round the neck of Palace midfielder James McArthur after the player had slid off the pitch into the technical area and collided with Pearson.
''I got a bit scared, to be honest,'' McArthur told local newspaper The Croydon Advertiser. ''I've collided into him and he said it was only a joke. So, I'll take it in that manner and we move on.''
Pearson, a tough-tackling center back in his playing career, laughed off the incident at the time and said Monday that sections of the British media had made ''a mountain out molehill.''
''The lad's OK and it was very light-hearted,'' Pearson said.
''Our owners are fine, as they were with the incident with the fan (in December). You're looking for news which is not there.''
Leicester is four points adrift of safety with 14 games left of the league campaign, having won just four games in its first season back in the top division.
Peasron said he expects to be in charge for the rest of the season at Leicester, which is owned by Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his family.
''I always have a very good working relationship with the owners and I'm sure I will, moving forward,'' Pearson said.