Nigel Pearson has admitted that he is looking forward to returning to Leicester City on Saturday but says there will be no love lost come kick-off as his Bristol City side look to continue their impressive start to the Championship season.
The manager spent eight years at the Foxes in two separate spells between 2008 and 2016, where Pearson guided the team to promotion to the Championship as League One champions in the 2008/09 season, before taking them to the Premier League as Championship champions in the 2013/14 season.
The 60-year-old will return to the King Power Stadium this weekend as his Robins side seek to cause an upset against one of the favourites to be promoted to the topflight this season.
“Leicester have been a big part of my life. I can’t just sit here and talk about it not being an important part of my life,” Pearson admitted. “It’s been a big part of my life and my family’s life, and I’m looking forward to seeing people that I’ve not seen for a while.”
Despite enjoying successful spells at the Foxes, Pearson admitted that some of his memories of his time at the club aren’t as positive.
The manager, though, looked back at the time as his first opportunity to build something long-term at a club, which is something he has always made clear he is trying to do at BS3.
“I have some good and some not-so-good (memories) as well. It was the first managerial job I had time to try and shape a squad and a team of staff and create a culture,” he said.
“I suppose very much as we are trying to do here now, that was the first place that I was able along with many other people to be a part of building something.”
Pearson isn’t the only member of the Robins set-up who has a significant connection with the Foxes. Midfielder Matty James spent nine years at the club, while veteran Andy King made 379 senior appearances at the King Power. The Robins’ Head of Medical Performance, Dave Rennie, also spent significant time at the Midlands club.
The manager continued: “I have a huge connection but there are four of us going back. I managed there over two spells, Dave Rennie was there for 25 years, Andy King was there for I don’t know how long, a long long time, most of his adult career, and Matty James was there for a few years. All in all, there is a connection which is going to create some interest.”
Though Saturday will provide an emotional occasion for the Robins boss, he was adamant that any sentiment will be forgotten about when the first whistle is blown.
“Of course, you know what I’m like to try and detach from that in terms of the preparation and then of course when the game starts,” Pearson said.
“We still have a job to do, and we go there collectively with the intention of being as good as we can be,” he said. “If we play well and catch them on a day when things aren’t right for them, I think they’ll be aware we can be a very dangerous side.”