English FA unhappy with Stuart Pearce’s decision to criticise England players
Former under-21 manager accused players including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones of ‘apathy’
Stuart Pearce accused players including Manchester United defender Phil Jones of “apathy”.
The English Football Association has expressed its disappointment at Stuart Pearce’s decision to criticise players’ attitudes towards the England Under-21s.
Pearce, who was dismissed as Under-21 manager after the side lost all three of their group games at the 2013 European Championship, accused players including Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Manchester United defender Phil Jones of “apathy”.
But a response from the governing body read: “The FA are disappointed with the comments of Stuart Pearce with regard to squad selection this summer. Squads were selected for the summer tournaments and decided upon by the coaching staff, including Stuart Pearce. The players were then advised accordingly which squads they were in.
“It is unfair to criticise individual players. All selections were management decisions and were not taken by individual players.”
Pearce was frustrated to be without a raft of players who had experience with the senior squad for the tournament in Israel and acknowledged he was always up against it after being forced to select an under-strength squad.
He said: “In our wildest dreams, do you honestly think that England or any nation in the world can turn up at a major tournament without six or seven . . . I think there were eight players with senior international caps that didn’t actually come who could have played for the Under-21s this summer.
“The odd one was injury. Apathy played a big part in it. The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses . . . If 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 any more.
“There’s no nation in the world that could suffer that. However we solve that - 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 they’re happy to do so . . . Our boys, for whatever reason — the powers, the Premier League, the finance they get at such a young age, the lack of real passion to play for your country — no matter what . . . we have to solve that problem.”
Pearce also expressed his disappointment that Gareth Bale pulled out of his Britain Olympic squad last year.