Schlupp's Leicester City coach Nigel Pearson should be manager of year, says Schmeichel
Ghana defender Jeffery Schlupp’s coach at Leicester City Nigel Pearson should be manager of year, says goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
This article titled “Leicester's Nigel Pearson should be manager of year, says Schmeichel” was written by Louise Taylor at the Stadium of Light, for The Guardian on Sunday 17th May 2015 21.30 UTC Blinded by blizzards of statistics, deluged in seas of digitalised performance analysis data and sidetracked by Moneyball theories, it is all too easy for modern managers to overlook the human factor. Fortunately for Leicester City, Nigel Pearson believes nothing is more important than making time to talk to players, learn about their lives and establish relationships. Kasper Schmeichel believes the manager's ability to connect represents a big reason why, against all odds, Leicester secured Premier League survival on a blustery Wearside afternoon. “Nigel Pearson cares,” said the goalkeeper. “He cares deeply not just about football but about his players on and off the pitch. How their lives are going. It means a lot to players when you have a manager who cares so deeply about you as an individual, not just as a player.” In return Leciester's squad leapt through metaphorical hoops of flame for Pearson as they collected 19 points from their final eight games of the season. “The boss has been immense; he's the best manager I've played under,” Schmeichel said. “Everyone has got to know that the Nigel Pearson they see and the Nigel Pearson we see are two very different people. He's a charismatic guy, a born leader. “He has a great sense of humour and an energy that transmits to the lads. His enthusiasm for football is infectious. I think he's the manager of the year. I know I'm happy to have him as my boss.” Rather like Howard Wilkinson, incidentally his key mentor, Pearson has a somewhat dour, occasionally downright awkward, facade. Perhaps it was Pearson's human qualities that persuaded Leicester's clearly split board to perform a U-turn and overrule an apparent decision to sack their manager , reputedly firing and re-instating him within a matter of hours during a chaotic February evening. “The owners deserve huge credit for not pressing the panic button and trusting the staff and the players,” Schmeichel said. Even when they seemed glued to the bottom of the table there was always a paradox about Pearson's team. Whereas sides such as Sunderland picked up points from poor displays, Leicester's performances regularly outstripped results. A source of considerable frustration, this disconnect also offered hope. “We always felt we were playing well,” Pearson said. “But it's been difficult to go to certain places and not come away with something. I'm not going to lie – there've been moments where you questioned whether we could do it.” Retaining the faith of a squad as result after result goes awry often proves impossible but Leicester's manager kept talking to his players and his combination of emotional intelligence and tactical sharpness paid off. If a switch to a three-man defence facilitated by the signing of Robert Huth on loan from Stoke at the end of January represented a watershed, the apparently unbreakable bond between manager and dressing room proved pivotal to their escape. “It was about being true to ourselves and playing the way we believe is right,” Schmeichel said. “Spirits were always high and belief was even higher. It was just a case of finding the luck that would turn things around.” The start of Leicester's renaissance coincided with the end of Gus Poyet's Sunderland tenure . Poor, muddled and often contradictory communication arguably helped provoke the Uruguayan's downfall. In came Dick Advocaat , along with a clarity that has played a big part in the collection of 11 points from the seven games he has presided over. “He's a very straight-talking manager,” Connor Wickham said. “We know what he wants, what his demands are.” Thwarted by Pearson's well-organised defence, Wickham and his team-mates could not quite manage the win needed to banish relegation concerns and they looked on enviously as their jubilant Leicester counterparts cavorted across the pitch at the final whistle. Should Hull fail to beat Manchester United at the KC Stadium on Sunday, Sunderland will be safe regardless but, as things stand, they require a point from their remaining two games – at Arsenal and Chelsea – to guarantee Premier League status. “Everything's still in our own hands,' said Advocaat, who had reason to be grateful for excellent performances from Lee Cattermole and Sebastián Coates. “I'm confident.” Sunderland officials have been impressed by the time the manager spends talking to players, getting to know them as people rather than mere pieces on a tactics board. Like Pearson, Advocaat knows better than to underestimate the importance of the human factor. Man of the match Sebastián Coates (Sunderland) guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.