Liverpool and Manchester City's titanic title tussle propelling West Ham to new heights, says Pearce

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Pearce, 60, is an official ambassador for Pitching In, a multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports
Pearce, 60, is an official ambassador for Pitching In, a multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports

By Paul Martin

Stuart Pearce has described Manchester City and Liverpool’s domestic dominance as a challenge for his West Ham side to meet as he bids to keep closing the gap on his old side.

The former City player and manager is part of David Moyes’ coaching staff at the London Stadium and has helped establish the Hammers in European contention in recent seasons, with a Europa League semi-final also on the agenda.

And though they and the rest of the chasing pack remain a world away from competing with City or Liverpool for the title, Pearce believes the competitiveness of contests between the Hammers and the top two this season give reasons to be optimistic.

“When you look at the finance Liverpool and Man City have spent on their squads, it’s understandable why they are ahead of the others but we see it as a challenge at West Ham,” he said.

“This season, we knocked City out the League Cup after they’d won it four years running, we beat Liverpool at home and lost narrowly away, missing some really good chances to get a result.

“Whenever we take them on, it’s a really good marker to see where we are as a football club. I don’t see it as disheartening, just a challenge and something to look forward to.”

Pearce’s current side could yet have a big say in the title race as they welcome City to East London on the penultimate weekend of the season and the 59-year-old is backing his former employers to retain their crown.

“I still think City will win it due to the fixtures they have,” he added. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if neither team drops a point between now and the end of the season.”

While Pearce’s day job sees him battling for domestic and European silverware, he hasn’t lost sight of his non-league roots and was speaking in his role as a Pitching In ambassador.

The 60-year-old hailed the depth of talent beneath the EFL and said: “Without the non-league scene and the bottom of the pyramid, there wouldn’t be the top end of the pyramid.

“Everyone loves a story of a player coming through the non-league scene, [Jamie] Vardy certainly a few years ago captured the headlines when he made that journey to become a big star in the Premier League.

“I work with a couple of players now in Michail Antonio and Craig Dawson that have come through non-league themselves there’s a real collection of players that have honed their trade in the local community and gone right the way through.”

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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