Last’s night’s 1-0 defeat to Israel proved to be the final straw in an abysmal European campaign for the England under-21 side, who exited the tournament at the group stage without a single point— thanks to losses to Italy, Norway and most recently Israel. The team, who were widely tipped as favourites to win the whole tournament, failed to live up to expectations. Highly regarded players such as Connor Wickham, Wilfried Zaha and Danny Rose did nothing to show England coach Roy Hodgson why they should be in the main squad.
For many it seemed as if they were simply disinterested; for others, the poor performance could be chalked down to the tournament coming on the tail end of a very hectic season for the youngsters. Either way the shocker for the youth team has done nothing to help their coach Stuart Pearce, who may well, find himself out of a job after the European exit.
Pearce did not make any attempt to defend his team, stating that England lacked “the basics—holding possession of the ball, passing it, moving it, wanting to get into shape when the opposition have the ball.”
“The standard we set before this tournament is a million miles away. You expect your players to do the basics; you don’t expect to stand in the technical area and tell them the same things eight or nine times,” he continued.
He did however make an attempt to find some kind of silver lining in this otherwise disappointing display. “We’ve lost very few games—bar this tournament—in tournament over the years and played some very good football over that time, so there’s a middle ground somewhere.” But judging from England’s tendency to ruin good form as tournaments come around, it may not be a complete shock to see something like this happen again and again in the future.
Image Courtesy: Ben Terrett (http://www.flickr.com/photos/benterrett/3281945150)