King ensures Pearson talks to rumble on

Leicester City 2 Coventry City 2: Midfielder's double gives manager bargaining power in contract discussions
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The Independent Football

Nigel Pearson's representatives will enter another round of discussions with Leicester City owner Milan Mandaric over a new contract today. His bargaining power should not be too drastically diminished by the manner in which his players wasted the opportunity to make a clear statement of Premier League intent to the notoriously shrewd Serbian-American businessman.

Mandaric has already had one offer politely turned down because of Pearson's sense of self-worth and he appears to have little option but to offer more acceptable conditions and generous promises for player budgets to the most successful manager he has worked with in a turbulent spell spanning a little over three years and encompassing no fewer than seven occupants of the Leicester technical area.

"There are certain criteria that I want to see met, but I think they should remain in-house," said Pearson. "My representatives will be holding talks and my contract will depend on how those talks go. I am enjoying myself and it is a club that has potential and it is nice to feel there is something to build on."

Pearson has lasted longer than the previous six collectively. He has already delivered one promotion and despite squandering a two-goal advantage created by Andy King, a second successive climb up the league ladder, to make Mandaric's dream of a return to the Premier League spotlight, appears well within his compass. Few other Championship teams have the momentum his side possess. They have an eight point-cushion over Sheffield United in seventh and no one will relish being meeting them in the play-offs.

Separated by just 26 miles of the M69 motorway, the short trip is one Coventry had little reason to relish, given their appalling record of five defeats in their previous five visits to the Walkers Stadium. Little wonder Kieren Westwood, the Coventry goalkeeper, paid extra attention to his pre-match ritual of prayer. Despite a towel draped over his head to aid his moment of solitude, his exaltations fell on deaf ears to begin with.

King's first goal was presented via James McPake's thigh after the defender tried to intercept Lloyd Dyer's cross. The second was controversial, with assistant referee Simon Beck adjudicating the midfielder's header, from Paul Gallacher's cross had breached the goal-line, after bouncing down from the crossbar.

If that was "dubious" for Chris Coleman the Coventry manager, there were no grey areas concerning his message at half-time. "The players were not too happy with the things I said. We were pants in the first half and I let them know. The second-half performance was one to spite me. I don't care. I got the response I wanted." Parity did little for Coventry's own outside hopes of finishing in the top six, but at least it salvaged some local pride. Fortune evened itself out with Coventry's equaliser, three minutes from time, involving Freddie Sears in an offside position, before Gary Deegan forced in Clinton Morrison's cross.

It was no more than their second-half performance merited after McPake made up for his earlier error to halve the deficit with a close-range volley. But for Nolberto Solano's goal-line clearance, Pearson's bargaining position may have been altered for the worse and there would have been some awkward explaining to do to Mandaric before his advisors get around to talking figures.

Leicester City (4-5-1): Weale; Solano (Brown, 84), Morrison, Hobbs, McGivern; Gallacher (Kermorgant, 78), King, Wellans, Oakley, Dyer; Waghorn (Howard, 88). Substitutes not used: Logan (gk), Adams, N'Guessan , Neilson.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Wright, Wood, McPake, Cranie; Bell (Gunnarsson, 56), Baker (Sears, 76), Deegan, Clingan; Stead (Eastwood, 66), Morrison. Substitutes not used: Hall, Konstantopoulos (gk), Barnett, Hussey.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Leicester City Gallacher.

Man of the match: King.

Attendance: 23,093.