It has sure dragged on to the point I thought it would never happen but I’m still coming to terms with such a big name signing at my local football club. The Premier League does attract stars from across the globe but I just find it incredible when five years ago we were playing in League 1.
Five years to gain a couple of promotions isn’t too difficult – with the great recent examples of Southampton and Norwich achieving the feat in two successive seasons – but after such disappointment by getting so close a couple of times which ended in Play-off failure, the glamour and promise of Sven-Göran Eriksson which ended in massive overspending, I just thought it would never come.
The man to get us to the Premier League, Nigel Pearson, has an interesting history. He guided the club out of League 1 at the first time of asking in 2009, however left under mysterious and unclear reasons (new owners) to manage Hull City when the Foxes just missed out on a play-off final on penalties against Cardiff. He later rejoined after just one season with Hull in 2011 when Sven was sacked for a disappointing start to the season. In his next full season in 2012/13, Leicester finished in the play-offs once again, however were beaten in such a dramatic fashion against Watford that I didn’t think I’d forgive football! Thankfully the team recovered, and we went on to win the league comfortably. Quite the journey!
Since taking over Leicester again three years ago, Pearson has been tasked with getting Leicester back to the top flight with increasing pressure from the Thai owners, but at the same time forced to reduce the wage bill to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules. This has meant fixing the damage done by Sven with many of his big signings such as Matt Mills and Jermaine Beckford leaving as soon as interest was shown.
It seems a running joke with the Leicester supporters to label rumoured targets as a “Pearson signing” if they fit with his style of being British players on reasonable wages and having the ability without the ego. This approach has seen quite a bit of change over the years, with the signings of Guingamp winger Anthony Knockaert in 2012, Polish international Marcin Wasilewski in 2013 and Algerian international Riyad Mahrez from Le Havre in 2014.
So back to Cambiasso. He is certainly a big name – Argentina’s most decorated player in their history at that! – who Leicester fans haven’t seen at the King Power since perhaps Sven’s loan signing of Yakubu in 2011 (he was decent to be fair) and will likely have a higher wage than most after being at Italy heavyweights Inter Milan for the last ten years. Perhaps it’s his humble personality that persuaded Pearson to sign him up?
In any case I guess Pearson is willing to further change his ways for the sake of increased chance of Premier League survival, added to the fact that central midfield has seen plenty of injuries recently. I really do hope that he lives up to the excitement and will hopefully be able to pass on some of his experience to the younger players. To draw comparisons to Liverpool, Steven Gerrard has adapted his game to a deeper role and is still an instrumental part of the team at 34 too.
Nicky Adams to Esteban Cambiasso…