Leicester spirit lauded

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Published: Saturday 9th May 2015 by The News Editor

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Leicester’s team spirit was hailed by both managers after the Foxes continued their march towards Barclays Premier League survival against Southampton at the King Power Stadium.

The 2-0 win, a sixth success in seven matches, is the latest in what has been a remarkable turnaround in fortune for Leicester.

A month ago they looked dead and buried and set for a return to the Sky Bet Championship after a eight-game winless run which included six defeats.

Now, Nigel Pearson’s side sit three places and three points above the drop zone and can clinch their place in the top flight for another season with victory at relegation rivals Sunderland next Saturday – should other results also go their way.

Pearson insists spirit has never been a problem in his camp and is at a loss to explain the recent upturn in results.

“It has been a big factor in our change of fortune, but throughout the season it’s been a big factor,” said the Leicester boss, who this week was named manager of the month for April.

“From my own perspective of being in the dressing room, we’ve never lost hope of what we can achieve.

“It’s been tough because when you look at the run we’re on currently, which is pretty unthinkable really in the context of our season, we’ve needed to when you look at the results of the other teams who are down there with us.

“We’ve not been able to pull away and that might have had a negative affect, but it hasn’t. And that is testament to our players.

“We need to keep showing it in the two remaining matches as they are against teams down there with us, battling against us. Against teams who also need the points.

“I don’t know why it has changed for us. I don’t know what the difference has been. We’ve played well for a long time but now we’re keeping clean sheets and scoring more. It sound basic but it’s hard to give a definitive answer.

“Our managing of the game during games has improved. That has come with the experience of playing in the Premier League. We didn’t have that at the beginning of the season.

“But the margins are so small between a good performance that yields no points and a good performance that wins three points. I can think of a number of occasions this season when we’ve played exceptionally well and come away with nothing.”

Leicester travel to Sunderland next before finishing the season at home to QPR, who will be relegated on Sunday if they fail to win at Manchester City.

Pearson added: ” We’re in a decent position now but we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves. We will be making sure our application is right in those games too.

“If two months ago you’d have said it would be in our own hands going into the last game of the season, I’d have taken it.”

Riyad Mahrez enhanced his growing reputation by scoring both goals for Leicester with the only down side for the Foxes a serious-looking injury sustained by Matty James.

Southampton have entertained for much of the season and earned plaudits for mounting a challenge for the European places but they disappointed on Saturday.

A fourth straight away loss looks to have finally ended their hopes of catching Liverpool in fifth spot.

Ronald Koeman was impressed by Leicester spirit but also admitted his side were off the pace.

“We knew what Leicester did last week, scoring an early goal, but we had problems at the beginning,” said the Saints boss.

“There was a lack of sharpness, which was strange after last week.

“Leicester started confidently and were aggressive. They had two chances and scored two goals. That makes it difficult and that is why we lost today – no sharpness at the start of the game.

“We didn’t create a lot. We changed things in the second half a bit but it was difficult – good organisation and positioning from Leicester.

“Leicester we’re full of confidence and had a cause. They were fighting for something. Fighting against relegation. Fighting for their lives.

“We didn’t have that in our play, there was too much doubting in our side.”

Published: Saturday 9th May 2015 by The News Editor

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