Pearson finds quiet game brings results

Leicester City 3 Nottingham Forest 0: Unlike others in the Championship, Leicester's manager likes a low profile, writes Jon Culley
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The Independent Football

With a manager as voluble as Billy Davies, it is hardly surprising that Forest have hogged the Championship spotlight in the east Midlands this season. Their form has been impressive, but so rare are the days when Davies is lost for words they tend to offer easy headlines.

By comparison, Leicester's progress has been noticeably underplayed, and you suspect that their manager, Nigel Pearson, would be quite content for it to stay that way.

Next to his Forest counterpart, Pearson can look like a man who would happily take a vow of silence, although given that Ian Holloway, his predecessor at the Walkers Stadium, was a virtual quote machine, it was inevitable he would seem economical with his words in comparison.

His opinions are no less strong for that, but while Davies seldom needs a second invitation to be outspoken, Pearson is more likely to decline, as he did after this match, when he spoke darkly of "answering one or two critics".

In any event, with 21-year-old Jack Hobbs outstanding at the heart of the defence, Leicester's performance did not need much explanation. The win extended their unbeaten run to eight matches and illustrated how a match can be shaped by the state of mind of the players.

Forest thrashed City 5-1 when they met at the City Ground in December, but this time the psychological dynamic had changed, as Bruno Berner stressed after his goal at the start of the last quarter had tipped the match in Leicester's favour.

"So much in football is down to confidence," the Switzerland defender said. "When we went to Nottingham, they were on a run. This time we are on a run.We did not really do anything different but after we scored you could see our confidence go up a level. We were stronger mentally than Forest. We were at home, with a fantastic crowd behind us – there was so much enjoyment to play football."

Berner's third goal of the season, blasted in from close range after a half-cleared free-kick, was followed by a stunning direct free-kick from Paul Gallagher and a third goal turned in by Andy King.

Forest remain third in the Championship table but Leicester are lurking in fifth, a highly creditable achievement for a team promoted from League One only last year. They have been February's form team, winning four and drawing three of their seven matches.

Pearson was Leicester's sixth manager in 16 months when he was appointed in June 2008 but has brought stability and potential. Having gained a reputation as a firefighter – he saved Carlisle from relegation from the League in 1999, helped Bryan Robson pull off his great escape at West Bromwich Albion in 2005 and, in his own right, kept Southampton in the Championship in 2008 – the former Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough defender can clearly ignite a promotion push, too.

Leicester City (4-2-1-3): Weale; Morrison, Hobbs, Brown, Berner; A King, Wellens (Kermorgant, 86); Oakley; Gallagher (Adams, 89), Waghorn (Howard, 89), Dyer. Substitutes not used: Logan (gk), Solano, N'Guessan, Bruce.

Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Camp; Gunter, Morgan, Wilson, Perch; McKenna, Cohen, Majewski (McGoldrick, 74); Anderson (Tyson, h-t), Blackstock, Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Chambers, McGugan, Adebola, Moussi.

Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).

Booked: Leicester Wellens, Hobbs, Waghorn, Oakley; Forest Earnshaw, Majewski, Gunter, Perch, Morgan.

Man of the match: Hobbs.

Attendance: 31,759