Former England Under 21 coach Stuart Pearce sets out case for change of approach

Last Updated: 12/09/13 11:02am

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Stuart Pearce: Former England Under 21 coach assesses future hopes

Stuart Pearce: Former England Under 21 coach assesses future hopes

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Stuart Pearce is adamant that England will 'never win anything' at senior level until success is achieved in the younger age groups.

Pearce coached England's Under 21 side at four successive European Championships before losing his job after this summer's poor tournament showing in Israel.

The 51-year-old was unhappy that he was unable to pick his best players for the competition and insists that, until England start following the example of Spain, then the senior team will struggle to win a World Cup or European Championship.

"We put a fantastic presentation to the FA about six months ago which shows all the age groups over the last 10 years and only Spain has got a better qualification record in tournaments, from Under 17s up to seniors, than England," Pearce told the Sky Sports La Liga Weekly podcast.

"England sit second in Europe on our qualification record, above Germany, above France, that's getting to the finals. But it's when you go to the finals, that's our biggest problem.

"The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses, they didn't want to come. Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don't want to come and play in the Under 21s anymore."
Stuart Pearce

"We go from second top in the group because we've got the players available and we get through the qualification period to second bottom of all the powerful nations in our record at major finals.

"When questions are asked why, you've only got to look at our first game of the Under 21 tournament when we had 17 players missing. Out of those 17, you talk about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere.

"In our wildest dreams, do you honestly think England, or any national team in the world, can turn up at a major tournament without eight players who have senior caps that didn't come who could have played for the Under 21s this summer?

"The odd one was through injury, but apathy played a big part in it. The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses, they didn't want to come. Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don't want to come and play in the Under 21s anymore.

"No national team in the world can suffer that. Until we solve that problem, however we solve it, if it's a case of stopping players going into the seniors because they don't want to step down, like the Spanish boys do and are happy to do.

"Our boys, for whatever reason, be it the power of the Premier League, the finance they get at such a young age, whatever it may be, there is a lack of real passion to want to play for your country no matter what. We have to solve that problem and give them international experience.

"We're really judged on how the senior team do, that's what England are judged on. My mentality, having been involved for six years, is the senior team will never win anything unless they start winning things, like Spain, like France, like Germany did at the young age groups.

"Spain didn't just pitch up and win the World Cup and European Championship. They started winning at Under 19s, Under 21s and, all of a sudden, those players who know what it's like to win together, they end up winning together at senior level."

"We're really judged on how the senior team do, that's what England are judged on. My mentality, having been involved for six years, is the senior team will never win anything unless they start winning things, like Spain, like France, like Germany did at the young age groups."
Stuart Pearce

Pearce also cited the example of Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, who are England regulars, but have little tournament experience to call upon.

He added: "I think the talent pool in our country isn't very deep, that's my opinion, but the talent we have, we don't use it wisely enough.

"Look at Theo Walcott. If you look at all the tournaments he could possibly have played in between 2006 and 2013, it's been two World Cups, one European Championship at senior level, there's been an Olympic Games, there's been three Under 21s he could have played in, an Under 20 World Cup in Colombia and in Egypt as well.

"There are eight or nine tournaments, and in all of those tournaments, he's played about five or six matches at all age groups. How can that be right?

"It's the same for Jack Wilshere, one of our brightest talents. How much tournament football in main tournaments is the boy going to play?"

You can listen to the full interview here by downloading the La Liga Weekly Podcast

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