NIGEL Clough says Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson deserves another crack at promotion with the Foxes this season.
Clough’s Derby County side face Leicester in the Championship at Pride Park Stadium today, kick-off 3pm.
Leicester are among the favourites to go up having missed out in the play-offs last season in dramatic fashion.
They took a 1-0 first-leg lead into their second leg against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Matej Vydra hit two for Watford and David Nugent headed in for Leicester to leave the tie delicately balanced at 2-2.
Leicester then won a late penalty, but Anthony Knockaert’s spot kick to book Leicester a place in the final at Wembley was saved and 20 seconds later Troy Deeney thumped in Watford’s winner in an extraordinary finish to the game.
Failure to win promotion raised question marks over Pearson’s future as Leicester boss, but Clough says that was unfair.
“It seemed to be almost a given that he would be going when Watford beat them – why?” said Clough, who is the longest serving manager in the Championship.
“He (Nigel Pearson) reached the play-offs and was a penalty kick away from going to the play-off final at Wembley, and anything can happen at Wembley.
“Leicester could have been preparing for a Premier League season now, quite easily, rather than starting out on a Championship campaign.
“That is the fine lines we are talking about, and so he certainly deserves another crack at it.
“Leicester have still got a good squad and they will be there or thereabouts this season.”
Both Derby and Leicester are unbeaten after two league games.
Derby have drawn with Blackburn Rovers and beaten Brighton while Leicester won at Middlesbrough and drew at home to Leeds.
Pearson recognises the good job Clough has done at Derby.
“He is four years into it now,” said the former Hull City chief.
“If you asked him about the different spells during his tenure he would probably point out the first few years were about reducing the side of the squad, off-loading expensive players and natural wastage.
“That’s one of the hardest things to do in any football club in terms of getting the squad numbers down to what you are looking for and also getting the balance right.
“It’s the hardest thing to do as players are in the driving seat.
“Now he’s getting to a squad he’s happy with, but with that the weight of expectation goes slightly higher.
“I think he is probably a good example of a manager being given a bit of time to develop a squad in a way that he wants to.
“I don’t know what his expectations are this season but I would imagine he will want to improve on last season.”