If Stuart Pearce has one overriding quality it is his ability to pull a result from nowhere just as the knives are sharpening.
Just as it was at Christmas, Pearce went into this game knowing the axe man was waiting for his charges to slip up and drop the club further into the mire. Again they delivered when most, this writer included, doubted they would again this season.
Second half goals from Distin and Mpenza were enough to give the blues a comfortable 2-0 win and propel them two places up the table. The team spirit was there for all to see and the performance built on the commitment and desire shown against Chelsea in the week.
That it took such an insipid performance at Blackburn last week to make the team realise how far they had fallen in the supporters` affections is criminal. That they have taken the criticism on board and responded positively is equally to their credit and it is to be hoped that they can now build upon this result and move the club forward and establish a mid-table finish.
So where does this result leave the manager? Personally I believe too many bridges have now been burnt. The under 21 situation, falling attendances, poor transfer dealings and a negative brand of football have all left their mark.
Stuart Pearce has many admirable qualities and will, hopefully, one day be a good manager. I cannot see that being with Manchester City and fully expect this season to be his last. Yesterday`s result may well have saved him until the end of the season and for that Pearce and his team should be applauded.
It essentially leaves City in a much healthier position going into the international break and unlikely to be looking for a new manager just yet.
Pearce has been brave in dropping Weaver and Corradi and City look better for it. Isaksson inspires more confidence in the goal and Mpeanza just offers more than Corradi.
The team was originally set up for containment again but Pearce was forced to go 4-4-2 when Richards was injured. They looked better for it and the manager should be credited for making that change in formation.
Boro obviously had Monday’s cup replay on their minds but you can only beat what is in front of you.
That we finally broke a 30 year hoodoo was down to Manchester City not Middlesbrough’s failings.