Following Leicester City’s second win in as many weeks, it is easy to overlook the importance of individual figures.
Esteban Cambiasso, with 23 major trophies to his name, a host of World Cup and Champions League appearances to go with it, has been central to all of the Foxes successes this season.
The 34-year old Argentine has claimed Premier League survival with his latest club Leicester would be like a trophy to him. A bold claim, for a beautifully bald man.
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His experience and his ability to remain calm under pressure has in the last two weeks seen him star in both Leicester City’s victories over West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion.
His signature at the King Power Stadium may have come as a surprise to many, but for Leicester fans, Cambiasso is the latest in a long line of experienced figureheads who manager Nigel Pearson has signed, and used to great effect in achieving his aims.
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Previous examples of 'governor generals'
Cambiasso has featured more prominently than Pearson’s previous ‘governor generals’, in large part due to his image as a global name and his undoubted high quality performances, but his role is the same as those who’ve come before.
When Pearson took over at Leicester back in 2008 for his first spell with the Foxes, they had been relegated to League One football.
His reliance on captain - and veteran midfielder Matt Oakley – was crucial to the way Leicester bounced back to the Championship winning the league comfortably at the first time of asking.
In the same season, he brought in Chris Powell, Paul Dickov and Bulgarian centre-half Aleksandr Tunchev. All of which, big names for League One, all aging, and all played smaller roles in Leicester’s title winning campaign.
Experience is vital
Pearson wasn’t looking for appearances, he was looking for experience around the club.
Chris Powell went on to obtain a coaching role in Pearson’s staff and ultimately into management at Charlton and Huddersfield, whilst Oakley led Leicester to successful campaigns for the next two seasons under Pearson.
Upon their return to the Championship, Pearson brought in Doncaster midfielder Richie Wellens to lead his midfield. Wellens remained a key contributor for Leicester in appearances and performances until the day he left in 2013 picking up player of the season in 2012 along the way.
Pearson’s key signing though, came in January 2010. Newcastle legend and ex-Premier League superstar Nolberto Solano joined the Foxes promotion push and despite only appearing 8 times for the club, his experience was pivotal in guiding the club to a respectable fifth place finish, narrowly missing out on a Play-off final to Cardiff on penalties.
Throughout the next three years, a period of instability for the club under three different managers, Nigel Pearson left the club and returned 17 months later.
Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson spent millions on proven Premier League talent but none of which, only Paul Konchesky, Kasper Schmeichel and David Nugent survived his reign.
Pearson brought in current club captain Wes Morgan, and many of their current crop of players during 2012-2014 but his faith in the young squad he had led them to fall short of promotion, again in heartbreaking fashion this time to Watford in the Play-Offs.
And here we come to the point. Last season, Leicester City romped away to the Championship title, breaking all sorts of records on the way. Pearson reverted to his tried and trusted method of quietly bringing in experienced heads to bolster the youth and talent that he had.
In the two transfer windows Leicester had last season, Pearson brought in four players who had vital impacts on the squad.
31-year olds Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Dean Hammond – formerly promoted with Blackpool and Southampton respectively – in the summer, and 33-year old Marcin Wasilewski – a 60-time Polish international, and Premier League legend Kevin Phillips.
All four players were brought in for knowhow rather than solid appearances, Phillips scored two vital goals for the club, but on the whole the experience was the central theme.
Phillips is now a coach at the club, like Powell was before him, and Hammond and Wasilewski have both featured regularly in the Premier League campaign of this season.
Cambiasso could be the best signing of the lot
Cambiasso then, is the latest in a string of Pearson like signings, brought in primarily for his knowledge and experience, potentially for a coaching role in the future, but also unlike most who have gone previously, his playing ability hasn’t been lost in his aging years.
Schwarzer and Upson have both come in and appeared for the Foxes, but their roles have been more important at Belvoir Drive than they have been on the pitch.
Cambiasso is undoubtedly the best of the lot. A past master whose talents remain untainted with age. His performances for those who know Pearson’s style have not surprised nor has his usage shocked, and if Leicester City are to stay in England’s top division this season, it will be his experience and Nigel Pearson’s intuition that inspires them.
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