Nigel Pearson was fired as manager of Leicester on Tuesday, less than six weeks after guiding the club to safety in one of the greatest relegation escapes in the 23-year history of the Premier League.
Pearson’s 3½-year spell in his second stint at the Midlands team came to an unexpected end midway through the offseason, with a club statement saying “fundamental differences in perspective exist between us.”
“Regrettably, the club believes that the working relationship between Nigel and the board is no longer viable,” the statement read.
Leicester won seven of its last nine games to climb off the bottom of the Premier League and finish six points clear of the relegation zone. Pearson was widely praised for the job he did at King Power stadium in a turbulent season in which he was reportedly sacked then reinstated on the same evening, and also got in trouble with authorities for losing his cool.
He was handed a one-match ban for using abusive language in an exchange with a Leicester fan during a match, before getting involved in a bizarre incident where he placed his hands around the neck of Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur after the player had slid off the field into the technical area and collided with Pearson during a game.
Near the end of the season, he unleashed a lengthy rant at a reporter after a defeat to Chelsea, using an expletive, calling the reporter “daft” and “stupid,” and coming out with a line that generated plenty of buzz on social media.
“I think you are an ostrich,” Pearson said, twirling on his chair in a press conference. “Your head must be in the sand. Is your head in the sand? Are you flexible enough to get your head in the sand? My suspicion would be no. I can, you can’t.”
Leicester came under scrutiny in the first few weeks of the offseason after three of its squad members — one of them being Pearson’s son, James — were filmed in an apparent orgy with Thai sex workers, one of whom was racially abused. The three players were fired by the club’s Thai owners, Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.
The club said assistant managers Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh will take charge of first-team duties while it looks for a new manager.
“We trust that the club’s supporters will recognize that the owners have always acted with the best interests of the club at heart,” the Leicester statement read, “and with the club’s long-term future as their greatest priority.”