Nigel Pearson has revealed he and his Leicester City players used the playoff heartbreak of last season as motivation to secure promotion this term.
Just 20 seconds after Anthony Knockeart had a penalty saved which would have sent the Foxes to the playoff final last season, Watford broke up the field and Troy Deeney grabbed a dramatic winner to fire the Hornets to Wembley instead. For those visiting fans at Vicarage Road and the players involved, it is a memory which will likely last a lifetime.
However, Leicester have been able to turn this heartbreak into a positive this season. Automatic promotion to the Premier League was clinched earlier this month and, on Tuesday night, they registered a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers which ensures they end the season as second-tier champions with two matches of the campaign to spare.
Lloyd Dyer scored the only goal of the game at the Reebok Stadium, a result which takes the Foxes to 96 points. Speaking after the match, Pearson revealed how the heartbreak of last term has spurred his team on this term, and has now challenged his players to end the season by accumulating 100 points for the first time in the club’s history.
“There’s been some strong sides but we’ve been able to take the disappointment from last season and really make that work for us,” he said. “I think it was nicer for the players to get us over the line tonight in terms of winning the league. It was great to be able to finish off the season well and we’ve got to 96 points, which is a really good total with two games to go, and I want the players to go on and try and get as many points as possible now.”
Leicester travel to Huddersfield Town at the weekend, before they end a memorable campaign in front of their own supporters against Doncaster Rovers.