Sheffield Wednesday: Admiring Milan’s tribute to his old friend turned foe

Milan Mandaric
Milan Mandaric
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Milan Mandaric, the Sheffield Wednesday chairman, has described the job done by Owls old boy Nigel Pearson at Leicester City as “unbelievable”.

Under Pearson’s guidance, the Foxes, who welcome the Owls to the King Power Stadium this Friday night, are top of the Championship and on the brink of securing automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Saturday’s 2-0 victory at rivals Burnley moved Leicester six points clear at the summit. A top-two finish looks almost certain given that the Foxes are 15 points above third-placed Queens Park Rangers. Seven points from the final eight matches will clinch their return to the top flight after a 10-year absence.

Mandaric, who stepped down as Leicester chairman in late 2010 to take over at Wednesday, is happy to see one of his former clubs blossoming. He also can’t wait to meet up with Pearson, having enjoyed working with the former Wednesday centre-back when he was in charge of the Midlands club.

“I’m happy for Leicester,” he told The Star. “I started the project while I was there and I’m delighted for them and the owners. They are good people and are supported properly.

“Nigel is a good friend of mine and was my manager at Leicester. I’m very happy for him. He’s done an unbelievable job. It looks like they will cross the line as they all deserve.”

Strikers David Nugent and Chris Wood were on target as Leicester became the first team to win a league match at Burnley in over a year. The result extended the Foxes’ unbeaten run to 19 games.

Pearson, a former Owls captain, said: “We’ve created a situation where we’ve worked hard to get into a leading position and we want to finish the job off. When and if it’ll happen remains to be seen. Every team we play will have something to say on that.”

Given Leicester’s impressive home form, the odds are stacked against a Wednesday triumph in front of the Sky TV cameras. Pearson’s troops have not been beaten in their own backyard since November 9 when they lost 2-0 to Nottingham Forest and have the best home record in the division - 14 wins in their 19 matches.

But with head coach Stuart Gray set to resume pitch-side duties after missing last weekend’s home thumping to Watford to attend his son’s wedding, Mandaric is confident Wednesday will respond in a positive manner when they take on the league leaders.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” insisted Mandaric. “We always play well against the top teams but we are struggling against the sides in and around us.”