Manchester City 2 West Ham Utd 0: Samaras double curtails speculation about Pearce's tenure

If Stuart Pearce pays heed to omens he will wonder whether this result will match the impact on his side's fortunes of West Ham's visit to Eastlands in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last season, which proved the point at which City's progress under the former England defender's stewardship went into sharp decline.

The unhappy run of results into which City became locked in the wake of their defeat on that occasion, standing at a worrying 13 defeats in 16 games at kick-off yesterday afternoon, had brought a crisis point in Pearce's career that had led inevitably to speculation about the security of his job.

Another reverse here would only have led to more grim headlines this morning but two goals from the Georgios Samaras early in the second half lifted the cloud over the City manager as West Ham's own early season troubles continued and their high profile signings, Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, again made little impact.

There was a cautiousness in City's early play that was understandable in front of a palpably nervous home crowd but West Ham are hardly flowing with confidence and once it became clear to City that they could afford to let themselves go a little the reticence began to loosen, to the extent that the best of the first-half opportunities were created by the home side.

Ishmael Miller, to whom Claudio Reyna had lost his place, set up the best, releasing an early pass along the left that found Samaras getting into his stride.

The striker's attempt to slide the ball across Roy Carroll lacked power but beat the Irishman anyway and grazed the foot of the far post.

Their ability to threaten the West Ham goal, particularly after Anton Ferdinand had withdrawn injured, encouraged a growing belief in Pearce's team, however, and they could have gone ahead in stoppage time when the long legs of full back Micah Richards carried him from the half-way line into the penalty area. But his pull-back to Bernardo Corradi bobbled horribly and the Italian's goal attempt was no cleaner.

The first of Samaras' goals was rooted again in City's ability to attack the flanks with pace and power as Miller surged past Hayden Mullins, the replacement right-back. Christian Dailly managed to get half a block on Miller's cross but the ball spun towards Samaras, who cushioned it on his chest at the edge of the box and struck it left-footed as it fell, giving Carroll no chance of making a save.

If Pearce was holding himself in check then, reluctant to trust in a slender lead gained with 40 minutes still to sweat through, he could allow himself at least a measure of optimism 12 minutes later as Samaras doubled the lead, his movement catching West Ham square and flat footed as Corradi chipped a pass over the top, his 21-year-old strike partner having the legs to beat Carroll to the ball and lift it over the goalkeeper's head into an unguarded net.

West Ham's manager, Alan Pardew, whose side now sits behind City in the table, hauled off strikers Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora in exchange for Carlton Cole and Tevez but there was no disturbing the home side's superiority and Joey Barton was close to adding a third goal in the last 10 minutes with a free-kick that had Carroll scrambling to push wide.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor