Pearce gives 10 players their cards in clear-out

Despite being in contention for a Uefa Cup place throughout much of Pearce's first full season at the helm, City lost nine of their final 10 games to finish 15th in the Premiership and go out of the FA Cup at home to tomorrow's finalists West Ham United.

That sequence included a demoralising home defeat by an understrength Middlesbrough team when a livid Pearce vowed to overhaul his squad following a performance that, he said, "showed no moral courage whatsoever".

Financial restrictions at the club, however, were also a motivation for yesterday's cull. City made £21m on the sale of Shaun Wright-Phillips to Chelsea last year but not all of the funds have been made available to Pearce as the club continues to service a substantial, though manageable, debt.

The former England international hopes to sign "four top-line players" this summer, with Real Madrid's Thomas Gravesen a target, on top of possible loan deals and a greater role for those players who helped the club reach the FA Youth Cup final.

As a consequence Pearce opted against turning Riera's loan move from Espanyol into a permanent stay at the City of Manchester Stadium, despite some encouraging performances by the left winger since January, allowed Musampa to return to Atletico Madrid and has not extended the contract of Sommeil, a £3.4m signing from Bordeaux in January 2003.

Pearce also released the Dutch reserve-team goalkeeper Geert de Vlieger, Danish defender Mikkel Bischoff and reserve-team players Tuomas Haapala, Ian Bennett, Karl Bermingham, Paul Collins and Michael Ward.

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