Friday 26 December 2014

Foxes realistic for top-tier return

Published 07/07/2014 | 17:03

Nigel Pearson leads Leicester into the Premier League after a decade-long absence
Nigel Pearson leads Leicester into the Premier League after a decade-long absence

Leicester are returning to the Premier League in an optimistic but also realistic frame of mind, manager Nigel Pearson has stressed.

The Foxes gained promotion to the division in emphatic fashion last season, claiming the Sky Bet Championship title with a club-record haul of 102 points a decade on from the conclusion of their last stint in the top flight.

That spell was only one campaign long, but they enjoyed plenty of success during their previous six-year period among the elite from 1996 to 2002, including four top-10 finishes.

And in terms of what might lie ahead, Leicester's Thai owner was quoted in May as saying he is prepared to spend big to secure a top-five Premier League spot within the next three seasons.

Certainly there is an ambitious mood about the club at the moment, something Pearson acknowledges.

But the 50-year-old is also keen to emphasise the importance of not getting carried away.

"I think there is a very positive feel about the club, but we have a realistic outlook as well," Pearson, speaking on Monday as his players began pre-season training, told Press Association Sport.

"The fashion in which we gained promotion was very positive, but ultimately, we have achieved that season's goals and now we have to move on from that and make sure we don't get carried away with the euphoria of last year's success."

Pearson played down the story about Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha targeting the top five inside three years, suggesting it was not entirely accurate.

Asked specifically about those reports, Pearson said: "Well - given the way the managerial merry-go-round is these days - if in three years I'm still managing Leicester City, we will have continued to do well.

"There is going to be speculation surrounding clubs and stories will surface. That is part and parcel of it.

"But we are on the same page as a football club in terms of talking with the owners.

"I'm delighted for them because they have invested a lot of time and finance in us to help us achieve our goals and getting into the Premier League. Now, we have to try to establish ourselves."

Asked if he would simply take 17th place - and thus, survival - as a final position for the 2014-15 season if offered it at this stage, Pearson said: "If you want to establish yourselves, first and foremost, yes, it is about us retaining our status.

"But if you speak to anybody here, including players, staff, fans, we aspire to be better than that.

"We want to make sure we give a really good account of ourselves and that we continue to move the club forward.

"We'll set targets internally, but I'm not going to be shouting it from the rooftops for the public."

Leicester's preparations to this point for the coming campaign have seen a number of their key players from last season - including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, defender and captain Wes Morgan and midfielder Danny Drinkwater - sign new contracts with them, as has Pearson himself.

And the manager is hopeful that a new deal for frontman David Nugent, their top scorer last term, will be concluded "very shortly".

With regard to fresh acquisitions, the Foxes have already brought in goalkeeper Ben Hamer, defender Matthew Upson and midfielders Jack Barmby and Marc Albrighton and have been linked with various strikers.

Sunderland's Connor Wickham, Cardiff's Fraizer Campbell and Brighton's Leonardo Ulloa are among them and when those three names were put to Pearson, he said: "I am aware of the talk about there being interest, and I'm not saying that is not the case.

"But I'm certainly not prepared to talk about players who are already at a club.

"It is right that we do our business in the way we always do, and when there is some more positive information, we will announce it."

Press Association

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