16 October ~ Every so often, Leicester City get ideas comfortably above their station. In 1981 three weeks of negotiations went into a thwarted attempt to sign Johan Cruyff. They attempted to bring Edgar Davids out of retirement nearly a year before Crystal Palace managed it. In 2001 they succeeded in bringing Roberto Mancini over – only for five games before he became coach at Fiorentina, but enough, according to him, to sway him towards a move back to England when Man City came calling. Now, with Sven-Göran Eriksson's appointment, the press pack will descend again. For the first time since Les Ferdinand and Martin Keown, the slightly silly notion of people coming to Leicester for one big final payday re-emerges.
Paulo Sousa's sacking came at an odd time, not least as chairman Milan Mandaric had publicly backed him twice in the previous week. But a side that technically came within a laughably bad penalty of a Championship play-off final were still languishing at the bottom of the table having just been beaten 6-1 by the division's crisis club Portsmouth – with all six goals attributable to errors by what last season was a relatively tight defence. Even when Leicester scored three at home to Norwich four days later they lost. Sousa's downfall came largely through attempting in double-quick time to change Nigel Pearson's direct style for something prettier and more floor-based. This is a tricky tactic to pull off when things get as physically crash-bang as they tend to in the second tier, but it was made harder by Sousa also having to win over a set of players who by all accounts Pearson commanded plenty of respect from.
Coupled with that, the club was taken over in mid-August by a consortium led by Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, owners of Thai duty-free retailers King Power, with the usual promises of money and international prestige. If, as many suspect, the suspiciously rapid arrival of Eriksson (he turned up to watch the win over Scunthorpe the day after Sousa's departure), is linked with their desire for improved PR, it's suspected the sacking might well have been taken out of Mandaric's hands too. Mandaric, lest we forget, got through eight managers, counting caretakers, in the 2007-08 season, ending with City relegated to League One. Somehow he still ended up with the benefit of the doubt but, with new investors above him in the club hierarchy and a looming tax evasion court case, he may not be that much longer for the Midlands. Then again, Sven proved popular in his brief spell at Manchester City, has made the useful appointment of Derek Fazackerley as assistant and isn't lacking for club-level credentials – even if the very specific learning curve required for Championship success might take a while.
The latest in a long line of new eras begins tomorrow with the visit of Hull, and thus the return of Nigel Pearson. Commonly believed to have walked out on Leicester after a row over available transfer funds, Pearson told the BBC last week that the club could easily have kept him if they wanted and the takeover was engineered without his knowledge. He's not pulling up trees at his new club yet – only Sheffield United have scored fewer goals and their last away game was a 4-0 reverse at Burnley – but playing his ex-employers with a freshly arrived high-profile Aunt Sally would be a good incentive as a place to start. Simon Tyers