Road to the finals

England lack 'game know-how'

England need to get smarter if they are to challenge the best

ESPN staff

Caretaker boss Stuart Pearce believes England need to get smarter if they are to challenge the best teams in Europe this summer.

England fought back to level from two goals down at home to Netherlands on Wednesday, only for Arjen Robben to score an injury time winner. And Pearce believes this is just one example of a difference in mentality. "Game management is an important thing for English players to learn," he said.  "The Dutch showed on a couple of occasions when there were breaks on the goal they were quite happy to bend the rules in a pleasant way. It is game know-how.

"You play 100 times for your country and all of a sudden you've seen everything before. Some of our players have not seen the tricks of the game before and don't know what it is like. Maybe they make a mistake and wonder how to rectify that, do they chase the game, do they sit back.

"I am talking about shutting games out at 2-2. It's about when to go and attack and when to take your time on an injury when the game is going against you. They are all slight subtleties of the game.

"When I played on the international stage the foreign nations sometimes had that know-how. Our game week to week in the Premier League is gung-ho all the time. When you get to major tournaments it can't be gung-ho all the time because of the climate or the altitude and we have to learn those little things going into tournament football. The Dutch had more know-how and more nous in the game, but you would expect that in regards to caps man for man.

"We still have to find a bit more confidence in the way we play. It's a belief which comes from playing together longer, galvanising together and getting an understanding within the way they play to have that real confidence in each other. It's difficult to tell if there's time. Developing young players is obviously a long-term process. How we will fare in the summer, I'm not sure. I don't think anyone is particularly sure.

"I have been to so many tournaments where we have got out the group somehow, and all of a sudden when we have gone out in the semi-final, it seems a travesty because we played extremely well. In 1990 and 96 it was the same. You have to go to these major tournaments with a bit of know-how and gather that belief within the team as you tick along and hopefully gain results."

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