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AFC Bournemouth: Rival managers are following a similar path
CHERRIES manager Eddie Howe and his Leicester counterpart Nigel Pearson have much in common.
Both enjoyed successful first spells at their respective clubs and both have been responsible for reviving flagging fortunes since returning.
Pearson, the second longest-serving manager in the Championship behind Charlton’s Chris Powell, led the Foxes to the League One title in 2009.
The club’s proud league history, which dates back to 1894, had taken a dent when relegation had seen them drop out of the top two divisions for the first time.
But under Pearson’s astute charge, Leicester embarked on a club record 23-match unbeaten run and lost only four times as they finished seven points clear of Peterborough.
Pearson continued to work his magic the following season and, while Howe was piloting Cherries to promotion from League Two, he was guiding the Foxes to the Championship play-offs.
However, with current Cherries transfer target Yann Kermorgant one of two players to miss from the spot, Leicester bowed out 4-3 on penalties after drawing 3-3 with Cardiff over two legs.
Pearson then moved to Hull City where he helped steady the ship following relegation from the Premier League before rejoining Leicester in November 2011, with the club 12th in the Championship.
His managerial curriculum vitae includes masterminding Carlisle’s legendary escape from relegation in 1999 when former Cherries goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scored a dramatic late goal to keep them up.
And he was also at the helm when Southampton preserved their Championship status on the final day of the 2007-08 campaign with Leicester – Pearson’s next port of call – falling through the trapdoor as a result.
A rare failure for Pearson saw the Foxes last season blow their chances of a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2003-04.
In the top five from the end of September until mid-March, Leicester had been three points clear in second at the end of January before three wins in their final 17 games consigned them to the play-offs, thanks to a last-day victory at Nottingham Forest.
However, Leicester were then victims of one of the most remarkable chapters in play-off history when they suffered semi-final defeat at Watford, with Manuel Almunia saving Anthony Knockaert’s late penalty before the Hornets counter-attacked to net the winner through Troy Deeney.
Backed by the Thai-led consor-tium Asian Football Investments, Leicester are this season reaping the rewards for keeping faith with Pearson and have soared to the Championship summit.
Goals from Lloyd Dyer and Jamie Vardy earned them a 2-1 win at Birmingham on Tuesday as the Foxes maintained an eight-point lead at the top.
A first triumph at St Andrew’s for 10 years saw them break a club record for consecutive league victories (eight), while it also equalled a club best of four consecutive away league wins.
With Kevin Nugent and Vardy – who netted in the Foxes’ 2-1 win over Cherries in October – supplying the goals, Leicester boast both the best home and away records in the division.
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