Israel Under-21 1-0 England Under-21

Pearce blames his players

June 11, 2013

Stuart Pearce lambasted England's Under-21 players after an embarrassing European Championship plummeted to new lows with a 1-0 defeat to hosts Israel.

Stuart Pearce
PA PhotosEngland failed to claim a single point at the European Under-21 Championship

The Young Lions headed into their fourth successive tournament riding the crest of a wave, having won nine matches on the bounce without conceding a goal. However, that run was brought to abrupt end, with defeats to Italy and Norway putting the knock-out stages beyond England with a game to spare.

Restoring pride was the party line heading into the Group A finale against Israel but things would only get worse, with Ofir Krieff's strike proving decisive. It means England return home on Wednesday morning in shame, having failed to muster a single point from a group they had expected to progress from.

"I think basically if you don't turn up and work hard enough in any given tournament, you won't get any success and that was typical of today and probably the two games prior to it," Pearce said. "I honestly don't believe I should be here answering questions on behalf of them.

"They should be here answering questions on why their performances were so poor, to be honest with you. I don't think it's my responsibility at this stage to answer for a performance as bad as that.

"This is the business end of the tournament and we got what we deserved. I don't think we deserved to win a game. Credit to the Israelis tonight - they deserved to beat us."

Things have no doubt been made harder this past week by the fact players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck were unavailable to Pearce.

Senior team friendlies were deemed more important than the tournament, while there have been suggestions that some of the Under-21 squad would rather have been at the beach.

"I don't think so," Pearce said when asked about that. "I think we've got players here who have not performed. Barring Andre Wisdom, I would say, and his performance tonight - that's why he was made captain and I think he should be captain for the next two years. I think he led by example. I think players didn't bring their form here."

The players may take a large proportion of the blame, but the inquest into England's failings could well see Pearce lose his job.

The former international full-back's contract expires at the end of the month but, despite making his desire to stay public, there have been few positive noises from the Football Association.

"It was a real poor performance," Pearce said. "In regard to my future, my mentality has not changed in ten days, when I spoke to you (the press) and gave you the heads up on what my mentality would be. Results in this tournament have not affected that one iota.

"I've no idea [whether this will impact my chances]. When you look around Europe over six years and see that our team is the only team that has been here four times running. We've lost very few games, bar this tournament, in tournament football over the years and played some very good football over that time, so there's a middle ground somewhere.

"We've not performed in this tournament, that's for sure. There might be a multitude of reasons for that. I have to take it on the chin and obviously the players do as well."

Israel manager Guy Luzon's post-match emotions were markedly different to Pearce's.

In charge for the last time before taking over at Standard Liege, he ran on to the pitch in celebration of Krieff's goal and believes a lack of unity is down to England's failings.

"England is a national team with top-quality players, a lot of talent, but Israel are united, organised and because of that reason we can beat them," Luzon said. "It is a fantastic result for us. We are very proud of the level we played at.

"I am very satisfied about our quality, very proud of my players. It is fantastic with me. If we had beaten Norway, we would be in the semi-final but we are not disappointed. I am very proud of my players."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report