Pearce relieved of England under-21 duties
Manager departs after young side disappointed at European Championships in Israel
The Football Association has confirmed they will not be renewing Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce’s contract when it expires at the end of this month. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
England Under-21s are looking for a new manager after Stuart Pearce was informed he will not be kept on. In his six years at the helm, the former international full-back led the Young Lions to four successive European Championship finals.
Pearce’s side finished runners-up to Germany in the 2009 edition but things have regressed since and they left this summer’s tournament in Israel without a point to their name. That, coupled with England’s group exit two years ago, led to the FA’s confirmation today that Pearce will leave when his contract expires at the end of the month.
“I’d like to thank Stuart Pearce for his hard work,” chairman David Bernstein said. “Nobody can doubt his commitment to the job throughout his time as under-21 coach. He has done extremely well in qualifying for finals tournaments, but after the disappointment of the past two tournaments, we believe it is time to change coach.
“On behalf of everyone at The FA I’d like to wish Stuart well for the future.”
Glenn Hoddle, Michael Appleton and Phil Neville have all been linked to the post, although Gareth Southgate is overwhelming favourite. The former Middlesbrough boss worked as the FA’s head of elite development until last year and is as short as 1/5 with the bookmakers to succeed Pearce.
With the future in mind, Bernstein added: “It is important the organisation now considers the best approach for the role of under-21 coach and how this works best within the overall England structure before making any new appointment.”
The Club England Board’s decision comes as no major surprise, but will undoubtedly disappoint some of the players.
Danny Rose admitted they let down Pearce in Israel, while captain Jordan Henderson expressed his desire for the former full-back to be kept on. Andre Wisdom, Connor Wickham and Jack Butland — all eligible for 2015 edition — also backed
Pearce, with the latter particularly vocal.
“It says it all how we got here, the way we played, the structure and organisation we had,” the Stoke goalkeeper said last week. “There is no-one else to blame (but the players). It is the same group of players — it us that have not performed. For a legend of the game like Stuart Pearce, it is difficult to apologise, but there is no-one else to blame but the players.
“We were on the pitch, I hope he stays in the job. He works extremely hard and does everything necessary to make sure we are successful and gives us all the right tools. I really do hope he stays.”