Pearce oversteps mark as he pursues long-term role

Manchester City 2 - Portsmouth 0
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The Independent Football

The board at Manchester City are said to be impressed with Stuart Pearce, who has hardly been coy about wanting to be manager. With this result, City completed an unbeaten April under his caretaker command, 12 points from a possible 18 raising a genuine possibility of European football next season.

Why, then, do City not end the uncertainty over Pearce's future by promoting him now? Pearce confirmed he had more talks with the chairman, John Wardle, last Friday. "He had one or two questions for me," he said. "I don't know what answers he was looking for but I think I gave the right ones. I'm doing myself no harm by winning football matches," Pearce added. "I honestly believe I will be here next season. If I'm not I don't think I've done my job prospects elsewhere any harm."

As yet, there are no plans to announce a decision, one way or another, before the season is over. Should City have snatched a Uefa Cup berth by then, surely there will be no argument.

Pearce, who prowls the perimeter of his technical area like a caged lion, by his own admission crossed a metaphorical line on Saturday by bellowing some choice words in Matthew Taylor's ear as the Portsmouth wing-back tried to take a throw-in.

"It was just a bit of gamesmanship, a bit of fun," he said. "But what you could get away with as a player maybe you can't as a manager. I'm learning, slowly."

By then, City were two up, through Sylvain Distin's header following a Robbie Fowler corner and a free-kick, curled expertly around the Portsmouth wall by the excellent Fowler.

Goals: Distin (4) 1-0; Fowler (16) 2-0.

Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Jordan (Thatcher, h-t); S Wright-Phillips, Reyna, Barton, Musampa (Mills, 87); Fowler (Croft, 68), Sibierski. Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), B Wright-Phillips.

Portsmouth (5-3-2): Ashdown; Cissé, (Mezague, 85), Primus, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Taylor; Hughes, O'Neil, Rodic (Fuller, 66); Kamara, Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Stone, Skopelitis.

Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands).

Booking: Portsmouth O'Neil.

Man of the match: Fowler.

Attendance: 46,454.