Everybody’s tip for the drop, Leicester City visit Everton on Sunday knowing that only a win will do. Tony Dawber speaks to supporters’ spokesman Matt Davis about solidarity on the terraces – and in the dressing room.
United yet divided.
That’s the paradoxical situation for fans of Premier League basement boys Leicester City as they enter the business end of the season five points adrift from safety.
As Matt Davis, spokesman for main fans’ body the Foxes Trust explained, City fans are still right behind their side, and are also united in the belief that every match in the run-in, starting with Sunday’s trip to Everton, is absolutely crucial.
‘It’s an old saying but every single game is a big game now. We know that,’ he said.
But there is also division, and that split is centred on manager Nigel Pearson.
He’s an abrasive figure, as illustrated by a reported obscenity to a fan during a pre-Christmas home defeat by Liverpool then an unseemly tangle with Crystal Palace’s James McArthur in a more recent King Power Stadium reverse.
‘Nigel Pearson is under pressure and people react in different ways under pressure,’ Davis pointed out.
And he went on to observe that though the travelling City faithful roared their support for Pearson in the recent valiant defeat at Arsenal, the reaction to what proved to be false reports of his sacking in the wake of the McArthur incident told another story.
‘If you’d have been at Arsenal, you’d have seen the fans right behind him and chanting their support.
‘But if you’d read the fans’ message boards after the Palace game, you’d see some very different opinions and the fans really are divided on this.’
But somewhat surprisingly, despite those ugly incidents and a turbulent campaign, Davis stressed that while debate may be raging in the stands, Pearson has not ‘lost the dressing room,’ as that doom-laden phrase goes.
‘The players are still playing for him and we have no doubt they are still right behind him,’ he said.
However, that may not be enough.
‘Beating Manchester United was obviously a high point and we played fantastically well that day, but it worked against us because all of a sudden we fell away and it’s been a real struggle since then,’ said Davis.
‘Apart from the odd game, we have not played poorly but as the old cliché goes, you get punished for mistakes in this league and that has cost us, and there are also games where we have failed to take our chances.’
And he was honest enough to admit Leicester face a real uphill task to avoid the drop.
‘There’s no reason why we can’t win a couple of games and catch up to the rest,’ concluded Davis. ‘But if we do that, we then need to keep it up which will be very tough. It can still be done but we know it’s a tall order.’