City and FA at loggerheads over Pearce Under-21s job

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The Independent Football

The dispute over Stuart Pearce accepting the England Under-21s manager's job worsened last night when Manchester City refused to negotiate with the Football Association over a possible compromise deal. The FA had hoped that Pearce's attempt to force the issue on Sunday night, by claiming he had accepted the job, would bring City to the table.

Instead, City have been in contact with the FA only to tell them that they have no interest in talks at least until the end of the transfer window tomorrow night and concentrated yesterday on their options in the market, including a move for a new striker as a deal to take Tottenham's Mido looked to have collapsed. The club have been unhappy with Pearce's actions over the last few days.

Pearce announced in his press conference after the victory over Southampton in the fifth round of the FA Cup that he accepted the job, only for City to release a statement that said they had not given their manager permission to do so. The FA had hoped to get Pearce in place in time for the friendly against Spain on 6 February although if that now happens it is likely to be with conditions attached.

Pearce has annoyed City officials by his impromptu statement on Sunday and the club are particularly unhappy with the actions of the FA in offering Pearce the job. The FA attempted to calm the situation yesterday with a statement that said they would "continue to speak" to City over Pearce although the club are adamant that the issue is not a priority for them.

While the FA hopes to have Pearce in place for the Spain friendly and a further game in March, an option for the club might be limiting his time with the England side. City play Portsmouth, Arsenal and Chelsea after the mid-week international break and they are eager Pearce spends as much time as possible concentrating on his club side.

The offer from the FA is understood to involve Pearce taking charge for the summer's European Championships in Switzerland, beginning with the tough group stage with the Czech Republic, Italy and Serbia, and then deciding whether he should stay in the role. City would not tolerate him staying any longer as the Under-21s' manager.

It is still unclear why Pearce wants the job given the extra workload it will involve. While Pearce explained on Sunday night that he was " patriotic" and enthused by the job, it is regarded within the FA as a developmental role. The manager would be expected to watch games and visit training grounds to identify the next crop of young players.

Pearce last night received support from former Under-21s manager Peter Taylor, who claimed it was possible to do both jobs. Taylor said he stood down only because people thought that the dual role was affecting his position as Crystal Palace manager, adding: "It's very possible to do the job on a part-time basis. It didn't get in the way of my job at Palace or Hull."

At 13th in the Premiership, the City hierarchy are still mindful that with a run of difficult games coming up, the prospect of a relegation battle is not out of the question. Their talks with Tottenham over Mido are stalling because of the injury to Dimitar Berbatov and there is a concern that the next few months could be testing for their manager.

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