Leicester City were promoted to the Premier League yesterday, without even playing. The Foxes had won 2-1 against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.
The side from the Midlands then needed QPR and Derby to suffer defeats in yesterday’s games.
QPR suffered a 2-1 defeat at ten-man Bournemouth, while Derby lost at Middlesbrough, so the Foxes can now prepare for life in the top-flight for the first time since 2004.
Nigel Pearson’s side have secured promotion by going on a 21 match unbeaten run in the Championship.
Everybody connected with the club is obviously delighted to have secured promotion and Pearson told Sky Sports: “I am delighted for everyone associated with the club. It has been a long time coming,”
“Now we want to finish the season on a high and try to win the Championship.”
Foxes fans will be relieved to have seen their team seal automatic promotion after a last season’s last-gasp play-off semi-final defeat against Watford.
Midfielder Anthony Knockaert saw a penalty saved in that game, but the young French star has played an influential role in Leicester’s promotion, scoring five goals in the Championship this season including the crucial winner against Wednesday on Friday night.
For a while now Leicester boss Nigel Pearson has been regarded as one of the better up-and-coming young British bosses in the game. The former-Middlesbrough centre-back has made an impact at a number of clubs, but Pearson has done it in two separate spells with the Foxes.
Pearson’s first stint at the club saw the Foxes promoted from League One with a record points total, before he controversially left for Hull, after chairman Milan Mandaric had already arranged a replacement for Pearson in Paulo Sousa.
His first spell at the club had to be considered a success, despite his departure. However, it seemed his departure was caused by a poor relationship with Mandaric, rather than a hankering for an exit from the club.
However, Pearson relationship with Leicester’s current Thai owners seems far more positive. Owner and chairman Vichai Raksriaksorn has backed Pearson in the transfer market and he will reap the rewards next season in the Premier League.
Like any club being promoted from the Championship, Leicester are likely to strengthen their squad in the summer. A number of the Foxes squad have been linked with moves to Premier League clubs, so maybe the side from the Midlands may not need that much strengthening this summer.
However, there is a slight problem for the Foxes as ten players and the manager are out-of-contract in the summer. It does not look like the former-Hull boss is going anywhere, while a number of those out-of-contract players are expected to commit their futures to the club.
One of the players that Pearson and the club will be attempting to keep hold of this summer is Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel, son of United great Peter. The 27-year-old has even been linked with a summer move to United.
It would boost Leicester if Schmeichel did stay at the King Power Stadium next season, but even if he does leave, then at least he has helped the club achieve their aim of promotion to the top-flight.
Even if any of those ten players do leave the club this summer, the owners seem prepared to keep investing in the club, so I suggest that the Foxes will be in a strong position upon their return to the Premier League next season.
In recent seasons we have seen a number of managers get their teams promoted to the Premier League and then given very little time to succeed, QPR boss Neil Warnock being a prime example from last season.
Pearson appears to have a good relationship with the clubs owners, so hopefully he will be given time to succeed in the top-flight and not get dismissed at the first sign of a bad run of form. The Leicester boss deserves a bit of time, because of the job he has done in both his first and second spells at the club.
Leicester City fans can now celebrate promotion and look forward to next season in top-flight. The Foxes are still chasing the Championship title, but that was a secondary target after achieving promotion.
Leicester looks like a club that are very much on the up, with a steady manager, seemingly sensible owners and a good infrastructure. Well done Leicester on promotion, the hard work starts in the summer.
Can Leicester establish themselves as a Premier League club?