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Pearce set for England collision course

Contrary to reports yesterday that a deal allowing Stuart Pearce to take over the running of the England under-21 side had been agreed, the club released the following statement:

"Manchester City Football Club would like to clarify
the situation regarding the offer of the temporary England Under 21 coaching
role to our Manager, Stuart Pearce.
The Club has not given permission for
our Manager to be released for England duty. We recognise Stuart's patriotism
and enthusiasm to assist the Football Association and Manchester City in turn
understands the F.A's desire to have him contributing to the Under 21s European
Championship campaign.
We will remain in dialogue with the F.A. and hope to
reach a solution suitable to this Club in the next few days".


Quite what this 'suitable solution' is is anybody's guess at the moment - it may be financial compensation, or more simply the club reluctantly agreeing to the move but trying to ensure Pearce is away on international duty for as little time as possible.

It was a strange chain of events yesterday with Pearce appearing to confirm he had agreed to take the position - only for the board to release the above statement denying this. Pearce himself clearly wants the job, and probably sees it as a stepping stone into the England fold for the ultimate job (which he was touted before previously), and Pearce himself said:

"I have accepted the FA's offer to manage the
Under-21s.
"The club had concerns about me doing the job and maybe it taking
my eye off the ball, but I know that won't be the case.
"I will be introduced
to the squad on Sunday night ahead of the friendly against Spain.
If I
thought it would be detrimental to City, I wouldn't be taking on the
role.
"It's a great honour to be asked to do something for your country when
you're as patriotic as I am. And the club have been very open-minded about the
offer. The FA have just got to finalise one of two things.
"We're trying to
get a compromise between both parties to make sure everyone is happy. Regardless
of whether or not I'm in charge of the Under-21s, we will win games, draw games
and lose games. There's a ready-made excuse there every week, but I work too
hard at my job for anything at all to distract me from doing it well."


The papers this morning are full of contrasting stories - The Mirror claiming Pearce is at 'war' with the club and The Guardian stating the club is 'irritated' at the 'clumsy and premature' announcement. The Mail meanwhile suggested it had 'provoked fury' with the board.

The problem the club has - and it is disappointing Pearce and the FA have been so public, is that they now face the prospect of either reluctantly agreeing a move, or perhaps even more damaging will be to reject the move outright, and potentially damaging long-term relations between club and manager.

It appears that the sticking point is the availability of Pearce for the two friendly matches between now and the end of the season in anticipation of this summers European Championships, with the club willing to allow Pearce to be in charge for the tournament but not before, or maybe even after.

I believe it inevitable that an agreement will be reached, with all sides having to give and take a little - ultimately not being in the best interests of either the club, Pearce or the FA.