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Stuart Pearce wearing Pitching In top

Stuart Pearce on Manchester City’s Premier League prospects

Two of Manchester City’s title-winning stars from 2001/02 are backing the current crop to seal the 20th anniversary of their triumph in fitting fashion by lifting the Premier League title.

Stuart Pearce and Kevin Horlock were key parts of the squad assembled by Kevin Keegan who blitzed the First Division two decades ago, racking up 99 points and scoring 108 goals along the way.

Both name the campaign as among the most treasured memories from their storied careers and Pearce has no doubt Pep Guardiola’s side will add another title to the club’s collection come May.

“I think it’s a definite,” said the former City boss, now part of the coaching staff at Champions League-chasing West Ham.

“It looks like a three-horse race at the moment but City’s consistency is incredible. 

“The depth of the squad is immense, which is especially important in difficult periods with Covid when you lose players at the drop of a hat.

“They have a squad that can cope with that and I think that’ll be good enough to see them over the line.”

Horlock was the self-confessed joker in the pack within Keegan’s all-conquering side and low on the list of teammates Pearce would have earmarked for a future in management.

But the former Northern Ireland international is now getting ready to lead seventh-tier Needham Market into one of the biggest games in their 103-year history on Saturday as they travel to Yeovil in the FA Trophy fourth round.

The former City stars were reunited by Southern League partners Pitching In as part of a unique piece of pre-match build-up which had Horlock reminiscing about a special period in sky blue.

“It was my best season by a mile,” he said.

“It was so enjoyable, Pearcey was the missing piece of the jigsaw and a pleasure to play with.

“I remember he gave me a lift home from one game and I was buzzing.

“I was 30 at the time, far from a kid, but I was texting my mates in the car going ‘you won’t believe it, I’m in the car with Stuart Pearce’. 

“If I look back on successful teams I played in, every team had togetherness.

“We had it at City and that was the first thing I wanted to get right here [Needham Market] when I took over.

“Saturday’s game is a massive challenge but we’ll give it a right go – I want to go further.” 

Horlock’s Suffolk-based charges have the firm backing of his former skipper, who will be following events at Huish Park closely this weekend.

“I wouldn’t say Kevin jumped out at me as someone who’d go into management but he had time away from the game, which can give you perspective,” said Pearce, a Pitching In ambassador.

“He sounds like a manager who empowers his players and the key thing is to relax and enjoy the situation.

“Going back to my non-league days, these are the days you remember and they have to be enjoyed.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/

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