Nigel Pearson’s future as Leicester City manager is under serious threat despite boardroom backing over a touchline spat when he launched a four-letter tirade at a critical fan during the midweek 3-1 defeat by Liverpool.
An internal inquiry has cleared Pearson but that is unlikely to appease some supporters who have accused the manager of arrogance after a run of results which has seen Leicester plummet to the bottom of the Premier League table after collecting two points from a possible 27 since beating Manchester United 5-3 in September.
Although the club’s owners, the Srivaddhanaprabha family, who were also the target of abuse from executive-box holders during the Liverpool game, have absolved their manager, Pearson’s position will be scrutinised further if the downward spiral on the pitch continues. Former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis is being strongly linked with the job.
But support for the incumbent manager has not wavered among his players. Midfielder Matty James said: “He is a lot more scrutinised now in the Premier League but to see your gaffer backing you is a great thing to see. We are backing him 100 per cent too.
Defeat by Aston Villa will weaken Pearson’s hold on his job that bit more, but the pressure on opposition manager Paul Lambert has eased slightly after their midweek win at Crystal Palace.
Lambert has also been on the end of supporters’ abuse, but new luxury seats in the dugout area, in use for the first time on Sunday, will give him a more relaxed vantage point. He will sit even more comfortably if Villa can achieve another victory before facing fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion next Saturday.
Probable teams: Aston Villa (4-4-2) Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho; Nzogbia, Westwood, Cleverley, Sanchez; Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Leicester City: (4-4-2) Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan, Wasilewski, Konchesky; Mahrez, James, Cambiasso, Schlupp; Vardy, Ulloa.