Manchester City confirm Pearce in rolling deal

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The Independent Football

Stuart Pearce's nine-week job interview was concluded yesterday when the former England defender was rewarded for transforming Manchester City's season with a two-year contract, continuing on a rolling 12-month basis, to remain in charge at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Stuart Pearce's nine-week job interview was concluded yesterday when the former England defender was rewarded for transforming Manchester City's season with a two-year contract, continuing on a rolling 12-month basis, to remain in charge at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The decision to appoint Pearce has been made on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run that has seen the club move from the lower half of the table to the brink of a place in next season's Uefa Cup. The manager, however, received an immediate reality check when City's chairman John Wardle made clear that the new man in charge will be forced to continue his rebuilding plans without a summer transfer kitty.

Pearce, 43, has been filling the post on a short-term basis ever since Kevin Keegan's surprise departure in March and improvements on the pitch have been sufficiently profound that Wardle and his fellow directors shelved original plans to delay the appointment until the end of the season and finalise matters before Sunday's decisive fixture with Middlesbrough.

Victory will almost certainly ensure City finish seventh and secure a place in Europe, an unthinkable scenario during the final days of Keegan's reign.

The club opted for Pearce after discarding an initial shortlist that included Martin O'Neill, Iain Dowie and Gordon Strachan, as well as high-profile applicants including Jacques Santini and Gérard Houllier.

Wardle was unequivocal in stating his reason why. "It was results," he said. "It goes without saying that we are happy with the way things have gone out on the pitch. We have had to assess how Stuart handles matters off the pitch as well and he has impressed us in everything he has done.

"We had a lot of applications but we did not speak to anybody else. You could say it is a gamble, but Stuart has a lot of good people around him at the club."

Pearce, who may install his former Nottingham Forest team-mate Nigel Clough as his No 2, acknowledged his "honeymoon period" was over and that he would have to take a crash course in wheeling and dealing if he hopes to bring in new faces. "There is no money available and Stuart has to look hard at the market and see who is available on a free transfer," Wardle added.

But having fashioned a winning side from a previously lifeless squad, Pearce declared himself to be unfazed by the task ahead. "If that is the criteria I have to work to then I will get on with it," he said. "You never know, if we win a game on Sunday there may be a touch more to work with.

"The honeymoon period ended today. Now I have to roll my sleeves up and get on with things. I haven't set myself a goal but we must remain in the Premiership"

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