Three straight defeats for the England Under-21s: What went wrong? What can be done?

Steve Tongue, who has covered all four of Stuart Pearce's tournaments over the past six years, reports from Israel

England's Under-21 side are out of the European Championship following three straight defeats and their worst-ever performance at that level. The manager, Stuart Pearce, who finally lost patience with his highly paid young players after Tuesday's loss to Israel and demanded they took their share of responsibility, seems certain to lose his job.

Steve Tongue has covered all four of Pearce's tournaments over the past six years. He reports from Israel.

 

WHAT WENT WRONG?

In short, the best players were not all there and those that were did not perform. Stuart Pearce, patriotic and committed but tactically weak, lost his argument to have eligible players like Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with him; instead they played for the senior team against Ireland and Brazil in post-season friendlies. As usual at the end of a long domestic season with no winter break, others like Raheem Sterling and Callum McManaman were injured and Wilf Zaha was not fully fit. England should still have had enough quality and pace in the squad but the defence proved unexpectedly vulnerable; the wide players did not function; nobody filled the creative "No 10" role; and the only goal came from Craig Dawson, a centre-half who had also been leading scorer in the qualifying group.

 

WHO ENHANCED THEIR REPUTATION?

Nobody. 

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The FA and "Club England" must decide what they want from the Under-21s and other development sides: simply producing players for the senior team or winning matches and tournaments. If the latter, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones, both still available in two years' time, should have been here. The Norway team that was one minute from beating Italy on Tuesday had 55 senior caps between them; England's starting XI against Israel the same night had two (Zaha and Jonjo Shelvey one each). In the short-term, the time is right for a change of manager and coaching staff; longer-term, the pool of players qualified for England has to be increased and their technical development at a young age improved.

 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

For Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway, a semi-final on Saturday. The Club England board, including Sir Trevor Brooking and retiring FA chairman David Bernstein are going home, where they will receive Pearce's report on the tournament and then decide on his future - and presumably a replacement. If as expected it is too soon for the recently retired Phil Neville, the list of candidates will be dominated by those who have worked for the FA previously, such as Peter Taylor, Gareth Southgate and, if both sides can swallow some pride, Glenn Hoddle. In the meantime Taylor has taken England's Under-20s to the World Cup in Turkey hoping to avoid the embarrassment that Pearce, his successor at Under-21 level, suffered over the past two weeks

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
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.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments