Chelsea vs Leicester City: 'We're not fazed by facing Chelsea,' says Foxes' manager Nigel Pearson
The newly promoted side travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday
Friday 22 August 2014
It seems safe to say that Jose Mourinho has never had a tip-off from a mate in Sheffield about a player at Stocksbridge Park Steels. But today at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea manager will come up against a man who has – Leicester City’s Nigel Pearson, who went on to sign that same player, Jamie Vardy, from Conference side Fleetwood.
“I live in Sheffield and somebody told me about him through a friend of mine,” recalled Pearson this week, evoking a rather different world from the one Mourinho inhabits. “He fully deserves the opportunity to play in the Premier League.”
The same might be said of Pearson, 51 two days ago, who – apart from two games as caretaker at Newcastle United – has waited until now for the chance to manage in the top flight. Perhaps this is why, 16 years after his first management job at Carlisle United, he has no complaints about the tough start Leicester have been handed: an opening fixture against Everton followed by away dates at Chelsea and Arsenal.
“I spoke to the players and they were all really looking forward to it,” Pearson said. “That for me is the key thing. The players saw [the fixtures] and were not fazed.”
“Not fazed” could be Pearson’s personal mantra. Unlike the soundbite-spilling Mourinho, the one-time Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough centre-back can seem dour as he sidesteps clichés in his press briefings, though there was something refreshing on Thursday in his wariness about such fixtures “becoming an occasion rather than a game” for last season’s Championship winners.
Leicester lack Premier League knowhow. They started with just four players against Everton who had appeared in the division before. Of himself, Pearson says he is “pleased with the variety of experiences I have had”. The former Southampton and Hull City manager, now in his second spell at Leicester, said: “I have worked in all four domestic leagues, I played in non-league football, I have worked at national level [as England Under-21 assistant manager] and assisted good managers. I am looking forward to working in the Premier League but I will only enjoy it if I feel we are maximising what we’ve got and striving to push on.”
At Leicester – whose Thai owners have invested more than £160m in four years – pushing on seems a realistic prospect. “We don’t have debts with regards to the ground now,” Pearson added. “We have a very solid foundation, the [owners] have invested sensibly in the last two or three years in improving the squad. We do feel we have quite a bit of potential within the squad.”
Pearson broke the club’s transfer record this summer with the £8m purchase from Brighton of striker Leonardo Ulloa, a scoring debutant in the 2-2 draw with Everton, and is now pursuing a deal for Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, a free agent after leaving Internazionale.
There have also been new contracts for 10 players, Vardy signing this week to follow the lead of such key figures as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, defender Liam Moore and striker David Nugent.
Latest in Sport
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
18 things Wenger has still never done at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol