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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Pearce: I needed cash to improve squad

Stuart Pearce believes he was starved of cash at Manchester City but does not regret taking charge at the Eastlands club.

Pearce's two-year reign at the City helm was brought to an end by a brief telephone call from chief executive Alistair Mackintosh.

It came at the end of a season where the Blues set a new all-time low for the number of home goals scored in a top-flight campaign, sparking a major concern about the number of summer season-ticket sales, and when questions have been asked about the discipline within Pearce's squad following a series of controversial incidents involving Richard Dunne, Joey Barton, Ben Thatcher and Michael Ball.

Pearce is due back in Manchester at the end of this week to collect some personal items before turning his attention to the England Under-21 squad which he will lead into the European Championships.

The smart money is on Wiltshire-based Pearce remaining in the job full-time as the Football Association are currently searching for someone to fill the role on a permanent basis.

Pearce is certainly not likely to be out of the game for long.

However, while he has enjoyed his time at Eastlands, he does lament the lack of cash he has been given to work with.

His predecessor Kevin Keegan spent around £50million on new players and with a takeover bid by former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra due to be formalised shortly, Pearce's successor is likely to have extensive funds made available as well.

'Losing your job is all part of football management and I knew it would have to happen one day,' Pearce told the Manchester Evening News.

'I wasn't taken aback, shocked or angered by the board's decision. I am not naive or stupid. I felt we were going in the correct direction but needed some finance to drive the club forward.

'The previous manager had around £50million to spend and if the club is taken over the next manager may have £50million to spend, so in that sense I feel as though I have been a caretaker with no money to spend, getting the books balanced whilst keeping the club in the Premiership.

'But I do not regret taking the job.

'I feel City are not far away from becoming the top six side they want to be and nothing would give me greater pleasure than this time next year to see Richard Dunne climbing the steps at Wembley to lift a major domestic trophy or the side to qualify for Europe.'

Pearce came agonisingly close to achieving that aim immediately after succeeding Keegan when an injury-time Robbie Fowler penalty miss against Middlesbrough cost City a place in the UEFA Cup.

Those first few months proved the high point of Pearce's reign and whoever replaces him will have the job of getting the best out of a succession of bad buys, notably misfiring strikers Bernardo Corradi and Georgios Samaras.

Much will now depend on Shinawatra, with fans told to expect a big name if the Thai takes control.

Among the names already mooted are Claudio Ranieri, Gerard Houllier and Dutch duo Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman.

However, should Shinawatra opt not to pursue a deal, more modest targets will come into the frame, with Preston boss and former City player Paul Simpson among the candidates.