Pearce blames bad tackles on a loss of trust

Stuart Pearce believes the spate of two-footed tackles in the game was a consequence of players "losing trust" in each other.

The England Under-21 coach, who was noted for his uncompromising tackling as a player, added he thought there was an element of cowardice in such tackles.

"When you are running at someone at pace you have to trust they are going for the ball, maybe a little bit of that trust has gone out of the game," he said. "I think that is possibly what we are seeing at the moment. When a player goes into a tackle [with two feet] he is making sure he is not hurt himself. The motivation is, possibly, somewhere between cowardice and lack of trust."

Pearce added that he was in favour of outlawing dangerous tackles, but not of eradicating tackling from the game. "I think the British public enjoy a good tackle and I am sure the rest of the world do, it is a fantastic skill," he said. "Tackling is an art. It can be coached, like any football technique, but it is not easy.

"If you mis-time a tackle it can look horrendously poor. Referees have to decide what is a bad tackle and what is mis-timed. Outlawing the bad ones is a good thing. People do not want injuries and dangerous tackles.

Pearce added he was not alluding to Martin Taylor's much-publicised recent tackle on Eduardo da Silva, which left Arsenal's Croatia striker with a broken leg. "Knowing Taylor, he is not that sort of individual. I have seen worse tackles than that, done, but maybe they have not done so much damage."

Pearce's professional career began with a tackle when Bobby Gould, then manager of Coventry City, went to watch him play for Wealdstone at Yeovil. Pearce, 21, was combining part-time football with a job as a council electrician. Gould, who had taken his wife with him, recalled: "After eight minutes he put in a thundering tackle and the Yeovil winger landed in my wife's lap. I said to her, 'That's it,I've seen enough. We're going home.'" He paid Wealdstone £25,000.

It was only when he arrived at Nottingham Forest, however, that Pearce refined his tackling to the level that won him 78 England caps. After one match Brian Clough, the Forest manager, asked him, "Why do you spend all game on your backside?" Clough told him to keep on his feet. As Pearce added: "The people who tackle best give away the least fouls."

Pearce, who was speaking before an FA Roadshow in Portsmouth, added of referees: "I think they have got better. They work under so much pressure. Managers have TVs in the dug-out. After a match everyone has an opinion about the referee, and how bad he was. We just accept good decisions, we never pat them on the back when they are right.

"But we wait for that one bad decision over 90 minutes. We look at it over and again on the replay and say, 'well, I think he was just offside.'"