Pearce demands improvement from England

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce has called for significant improvement if his youngsters are to build on yesterday's victory over Finland and eventually win the European Championships in Sweden.

Pearce's side scraped past Finland at Halmstad's Orjans Vall after playing for an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of Michael Mancienne for a professional foul.

Manchester City defender Micah Richards headed home the winner eight minutes after the break, but sterner tests are ahead as Spain and Germany are the other countries in Group B.

"We knew about Finland, the only surprise in the match was England playing like they did," said Pearce.

"The way we played was not good enough to win this tournament. The character we showed was commendable but we know as a group we have to play better than that."

Lee Cattermole opened the scoring against the run of play before Tim Sparv levelled from the penalty spot.

With Mancienne receiving a red card for his part in the equaliser, Pearce faced a dilemma of whether to attack or defend.

He decided to send on another striker but it meant Theo Walcott, the most high-profile player of the tournament, being replaced by Fraizer Campbell.

"You have to go with our gut feeling as a manger," Pearce said. "It's bittersweet at half-time because it's 1-1 and we're down to 10 men.

"If I put two strikers on and we lost people would have said 'What are you doing?'

"They are a good set of players and know if we want to pick up the trophy then everyone at times has to fall on their sword and support the other players. That is exactly what Theo does. That is the gentleman he is."

Pearce added: "I wanted to win the match. It was a bold call. It may have been easier going 4-4-1 but I thought we could trouble them with (Gabriel) Agbonlahor and Campbell but I needed a solid three behind them.

"For me to achieve the formation I wanted Theo had to come off the pitch."

Mark Noble was named man of the match by the sponsors but James Milner, filling in at full-back and centre-back at times after the sending off, could not have been far behind.

"The modern-day full-back gets up and down the pitch and Milly can do that," Pearce said.

Noble was skipper as Nedum Onuoha was injured, while Richards and Milner also worryingly picked up knocks.

Noble also feels improvement is needed.

The West Ham midfielder said: "We know we can play a lot better.

"We were surprised. We had a bit of misfortune with the sending off but as a group of players and a group of friends we dug it out.

"Hopefully we can go one step further than 2007 and take that trophy home back to England."

Finland coach Markku Kanerva added: "They were experienced players and often the difference is efficiency. They did not create many chances to score two goals.

"I don't think there was a big difference between the two teams. They played almost 60 minutes with 10 men, they have dangerous players.

"The first goal was sloppy but overall I was satisfied with the way my team played, I was proud of them."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
News
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?