After publicly apologising to a journalist he accused of being an ostrich, Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson has told friends he still believes Ian Baker to be a large flightless bird, writes Back of the Net...
Pearson accused Baker of being an ostrich during a press conference last Wednesday, following a line of questioning the Leicester boss perceived as "highly ostrich-like".
When Baker objected that he was not and never had been an ostrich, pointing out his lack of feathers, his forward-bending knees and his fleshy, beakless skull, Pearson repeated his accusations, accusing him of being "one hundred per cent an ostrich".
After pressure from the Leicester hierarchy, Pearson retracted his claims and apologised. But according to sources close to the 51-year old, he remains convinced that Baker is a close relative of the cassowary capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour.
A friend of Pearson's told FourFourTwo: "Blue Eyes [Pearson] keeps saying things like 'He must be at least two-and-a-half metres tall with his neck fully extended', and 'I bet those legs can cover five metres in a single stride'. He's going to get the season over and done with, and then he's going to clear up this ostrich thing once and for all."
A dressing-room source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Pearson briefly considered the possibility that Baker might be an emu, or even a Darwin's rhea, before insisting he'd seen the reporter jealously guarding a vast, glossy egg moments before the press conference began.
Former Hull boss Pearson has been at the centre of a number of controversies this season, having accused Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur of being "a blatant tapir", and the entire Match of the Day panel "a swarm of angry flies".
Last night, a series of tweets from Pearson's official account urged the public to "Look at [Baker's] feet. Note talons", and "Ecorative plumage no excuse. Baker = ostrich". The tweets were swiftly deleted and Pearson has offered no further comment.