MANCHESTER, England, June 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
England should have copied Iceland's forward-thinking approach and better prepared under 21 coach Gareth Southgate to take over from Roy Hodgson.
That's the forthright view of Three Lions legend Stuart Pearce speaking on Betfred TV.
He said: "I've always said if you don't put the building blocks in place in advance, then when you get to the tournament, you will get found out. That is exactly what has happened again, and it will continue happening. There needs to be more foundations in place if we are ever going to progress. How do we move forward? Look at Iceland. The work they have done behind the scenes for the last few years throughout their whole international structure has set them up for the future. Their improvement has tied in with their improving the under-21 side, and that manager is now ready to take over from the experienced Lars Lagerback - purely because they've prepared with that in mind.
"The old head steps back, the young man comes in. Is there any of that with us? No. Gareth wasn't even around the senior squad in Brazil, or this summer in France. Is that healthy? How is he meant to prepare for the step up if he's not involved? It works the other way too."
Pulling no punches, the ex-England under 21 coach went on: "The senior manager has to take an interest in the under-21 and under-19 sides. If the communication and forward-thinking isn't there, we won't move forward. Compare our youth medals to Germany, Italy and France. Only Ross Barkley has a youth team medal with England from our squad - and that was when he was 17. As for myself, I have been in the FA for six years, and by the end of that period, I don't think they liked the things that I was saying. We need people that are prepared to make unselfish decisions to come in; decisions for the benefit of English football and not just the senior team. We need to be coming down tough on players that try and dodge under-21 duty. Tell them, 'If you don't want to come and represent us at youth level then we won't be selecting you again, thanks' It's an area that has let Gareth down and let me down."
Southgate is 9/4 favourite at Betfred to be the next permanent England manager ahead of Jurgen Klinsmann and Glenn Hoddle (both 7/1) with Alan Pardew 10/1, Eddie Howe 11/1, Sam Allardyce 12/1, Alan Shearer 14/1 and Arsene Wenger 16/1.
Pearce is still bristling over England's Euro 2016 exit - the last sixteen 2-1 defeat to minnows Iceland, arguably the most embarrassing result in our football history.
He said : "I think this one is particularly embarrassing because of the level of the opposition that have knocked us out. Not only that, but the manner of the defeat. It was so lacklustre, but you have to give the Iceland players credit. They were the better team over 90 minutes.
"It's easy to look at the team selection with hindsight, but not one of those players can say they had a reasonable game. I've never seen so many players from the same national side put in such individually lacklustre performances.
"Looking at the goals we conceded, you can see that the question marks over our defence in the pre-tournament build-up were justified. They were two awful goals to let in, and the one against Wales was a poor one too. Add in the Russia header where there was a lack of leadership, and you've given away three or four cheap goals. In tournament football, that's your lot I'm afraid.
"The management staff would have looked at the throw-ins before the match, so they'll have been frustrated. Iceland scored a carbon copy of that goal against Austria, so the warning signs were there. It only takes one man to go to sleep, and that was Kyle Walker.
"It's tough on the touchline, but putting Marcus Rashford on when he did was a strange decision by Roy. I said prior to the tournament I didn't think that his progression had merited a tournament call-up, but once you've taken him, you might as well give him a proper chance. He came on and he had a little naivety, but he also ran at players. But what could he do in five minutes?
"We don't send our youngsters out to get tournament experience enough. There's no pressure on them in the qualifiers - well, certainly nowhere near as much as when they go out to the major tournament. We have to solve that issue. We were completely devoid of leadership throughout. It's all very well lying on the turf at the end of the 90 minutes, on your haunches feeling sorry for yourself. Real leadership and motivation needs to come on the pitch at key moments.
"When Kyle Walker loses his man and costs you a goal, he should be tied up for that by his teammates on the pitch. You don't just pick the ball out of the net and not mention it. I used to play with Peter Shilton and Bryan Robson - they certainly wouldn't let you get away with that! Neither would I for that matter. It is part of growing as a team, and our lads dodged it."
Meanwhile Pearce, who is a pundit for Betfred throughout Euro 2016, has been highly impressed by Italy. He is predicting the winners of the Germany-Italy last eight tie of the round to emerge as the team to beat!