Leicester City’s surprise challenge for the Premier League title shows teamwork is more important than spending money to win trophies, says former England international Stuart Pearce.
Pearce believes the financial clout of clubs such as Manchester City and Manchester United means only four or five teams have been capable of challenging for the title.
However, Pearce – a former Manchester City manager – says leaders Leicester, who are five points clear of second-placed Tottenham with seven matches remaining, have been able to break the mould due to their fierce work ethic.
“I think English football has become a sort of closed shop over time with the money that Manchester United have paid, the money that Manchester City have paid on players and it seems like we’ve got a top echelon where it feels like only four or five teams can win the league,” he told Omnisport.
“[But] Leicester have shown teamwork wins the league. They’ve got some classy individuals within their group but overriding that there’s a team ethic and a work ethic that, if Leicester win the league, that’s what has won them the league.
“That, for me, is what football is all about, from grassroots level right the way through to top-end international level.
“The team with the best team spirit, the team that works hard enough for each other, coupled with the talent dotted within that as well, they’re the ones that come away with trophies at the end of it, not the ones that have got financial clout with expectation.”
At the other end of the table, Pearce stated that Newcastle United’s appointment of Rafael Benitez as manager gives them the edge against relegation rivals Sunderland and Norwich City.
“I think Rafa is an outstanding manager and in some ways Newcastle have got a major coup by bringing in a Champions League-winning manager,” the 53-year-old said.
“Newcastle are a wonderful club, a fantastically big club. I think if anyone is capable of [keeping Newcastle up] it is him.
“It’s in Norwich’s hands. They’ve got good fixtures coming up, they’ve also got Newcastle and Sunderland in the next two or three games.
“Newcastle have given themselves every chance with Rafa Benitez as their manager.
“They’ve certainly paid money over the last calendar year on players to make sure they stay in the Premier League, but the Premier League is no respecter of reputations, I’m afraid.”
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