Fulham’s manager Chris Coleman will be the surprise name on Manchester City’s shortlist if the club decide to end Stuart Pearce’s two-year reign after tomorrow’s match at Middlesbrough.
The Welshman has admirers on the City board and will be considered alongside Sam Allardyce of Bolton and Paul Jewell of Wigan.
Pearce acknowledged last night that he is in danger of being sacked if his side’s run of league defeats stretches to six at the Riverside Stadium.
His position was not badly damaged by the manner in which City lost 1-0 to Chelsea on Wednesday – the chairman, John Wardle, and his directors were impressed by the team’s application – but a change of manager is considered a matter of when rather than if, and informal discussions have already taken place about successors.
The task of appointing a replacement would be much easier in the summer, when candidates would not have to leave clubs with the season still in progress. Allardyce is the choice of many fans but he would not come cheaply with four years to go on his contract, plus a big backroom staff.
City would ideally recruit a manager with Premiership experience and Coleman, in charge of Fulham since April 2003, is a strong candidate and would certainly consider leaving Fulham. Jewell, in contrast, is understood to have reservations about leaving Wigan.
A win on Teesside might earn Pearce a stay of execution but it is highly unlikely he will last beyond the end of the season, a fact he seems to be coming to terms with. “I might get a phone call saying we’re going to change managers,” he admitted. “That is the prerogative of any board at every club in the world. All I can do is prepare the team to play.”