City's season a 'major disappointment' for Pearce
Stuart Pearce will still regard this season as a major disappointment even if Manchester City win their final four games.
The Blues head to Aston Villa tonight looking to end a run of six successive Barclays Premiership defeats which has seen them plummet into the bottom half of the table.
A setback at Villa Park and another against Fulham on Saturday will leave City ahead of only the relegation stragglers in the Premiership table, a depressing situation reminiscent of Kevin Keegan's final full season in charge.
Pearce is still confident his side can restore a semblance of pride over the final fortnight. But, after so much heady pre-season optimism, the former England skipper admits he will not be happy, no matter what the final outcome.
'This season has been a major disappointment for me, there is no doubt about that,' said Pearce.
'We gave ourselves a great platform to build off but, since the FA Cup defeat to West Ham, we have not managed to do that.
'All I can do is see what lessons can be picked up from our current run of form, which really has cost us dearly.'
When Pearce picks through the bones of the campaign, he will be left to reflect on a three-day spell when City suffered home defeats to Wigan in the Premiership and eventual finalists West Ham in the FA Cup as the period when it began to turn sour.
The injuries sustained around that time only emphasised the need for Pearce to expand his squad this summer, although the City boss admits he will not have mega-money to splash around during the close season.
He said: 'There is money to spend but if you are asking me whether it is multi-millions the answer is no.
'It would be nice to have a shopping list I can point to and say `these players will enhance us, it doesn't matter what the price is, we need them'. Unfortunately, just as it is at most other clubs, that is not the case.
'But screaming and stamping my feet will not make money appear from nowhere. I just have to work to the parameters I have been set.'
Pearce expects to welcome combative midfielder Joey Barton back after a month out with a knee injury, although Ben Thatcher is a major doubt with a strained hamstring.