World Cup 2014: Nottingham Forest's manager-in-waiting Stuart Pearce heads to Brazil with part of him believing he should be nearer to the dug-out than the press box

Pearce will be working as a pundit at the World Cup for TalkSPORT before joining up with Forest after his reign as England Under-21 manager ended last year

Stuart Pearce will be heading to Brazil this week as the manager-elect of Nottingham Forest and a pundit for TalkSPORT, but being a patriot with - on his own admission - "a stubborn streak" there is almost certainly a part of him that believes his involvement in the tournament should be closer to the England dug-out.

Until just over two years ago he was a more frequent presence than anyone, regularly rushing from managing the Under-21 team to be with the seniors the next day as assistant to Fabio Capello.

It seemed a useful link between the seniors and juniors and when Capello resigned in February 2012 Pearce was made caretaker manager for one game at home to Holland, even speaking of being prepared to select the Euro 2012 squad if required; "we have great confidence in him," said the Football Association chairman David Bernstein. Capello's successor, Roy Hodgson, did not share that faith, however, bringing in Ray Lewington and Gary Neville as his coaches and at that point, Pearce has now revealed, he decided he would leave the Under-21 job after last year's 2013 European Championship finals in Israel.

As it turned out, the decision was effectively made for him when England lost all three group matches there in feeble fashion. "In all honesty I'd made my mind up a year earlier when I had no involvement with the seniors that my time at the FA was finished," he told the Independent on Sunday.

 

"Myself and Trevor [Brooking] were just playing cat-and-mouse really. He was waiting for me to jump and I was saying 'you're going to have me to push me' but we both knew in our heart of hearts. He would have been happy for me to make that decision but I've got a stubborn streak so we ended up going to the last day. I had to look and wonder where any progression [for me] was going."

Progression has always been important to him for players and coaches, and for six years as manager of the Under-21s and then the Great Britain Olympic team he banged on about the importance of young talent playing in tournaments in the relevant age-group before moving up.

Instead he discovered "a big black hole" into which too many of them fell, some losing their hunger thanks to a lucrative new contract, others apparently lacking any in the first place: "My first summer tournament with the '21s David Bentley, 'the new David Beckham', said he didn't want to go. He pulled out when I'd already named the 23 so I had to go one short. That told me of the problems I'd be facing and that still have to be solved."  

Eventually he was defeated by the sheer numbers unavailable, which reached 17 in Israel but had been even worse with his Under-20 team two years earlier. "That was in Colombia, where the heat and altitude were quite incredible. That was a real eye-opener and it was a shame that more of the youngsters didn't go on that tour because it would have stood them in good stead in Brazil. The only one who went who might have featured this time was Jack Butland, who didn't make the squad for Brazil."

What of those who did make it and are hoping against hope to match Pearce's semi-final appearances at the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96?

"What we normally do as English teams, as in those two tournaments, is gain momentum as we go along. I think we'll get out of the group with probably Uruguay, and the next game after that on paper looks reasonable. So round about the quarter-finals probably. They've played quite expansively, looking as though they can get forward and create chances and also looking as though they can concede goals quite regularly. It's not really what Roy based the team on two years ago and there's a clutch of young players there from who we don't know what to expect in the heat of a World Cup battle so it'll be interesting."

His point is that had they come up through the ranks in more structured fashion, as is the case in other countries, the end result would involve less guesswork. "Our Under-17s have just won the European Championship. But the Under-19s failed to qualify a week ago and so don't qualify for the Under-20 World Cup next summer either.

Why? Because at Under-17 level the Academies are pushing their players forward because of the kudos and they don't pull out. When it comes to the '19s and '21s the whole dynamic changes and you never go to the tournament with your best players and so never win anything."

None of these points have been made to Greg Dyke's commission on the future of the national team, because Pearce, who played 87 times for England, was not asked.

"Maybe," he suggests drily, "I hadn't had enough experience for them to talk to me about international football."

Stuart Pearce was speaking on behalf of Chewits Sport Courses, designed to give children of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy being active. Find out more at www.chewits.premiersport.org

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks