English football has been stuttering and stalling for some time now. So it comes as no surprise that yet again, we are left discussing England's latest footballing demise.
The Under 21's European Championship 2013 hosted in Israel held great promise for England's young lions; strolling into the tournament having won nine games on the trot, without conceding a goal.
But after suffering defeats in all three of their group games, England bowed out, without gaining a point. It took 79th minute free-kick heroics from Italy's Lorenzo Insigne to see England defeated 1-0 in their opening fixture.
A heavy 3-1 defeat at the hands of Norway was to follow in their second group game, while another late goal conceded against hosts Israel in the 80th minute completed England Under 21's dismal display.
So where does the finger of blame point for answers amongst such a disappointing European campaign? Let's take a look at the candidates.
As the manager you would expect Pearce to accept some blame for his sides pointless exit. Well you thought wrong. Pearce has blamed his players and his players only, stating a lack of pride and professionalism as the reasoning behind England's worst ever showing at an Under 21's Championship. But after six years in charge of the England under 21's, is it time that Stuart Pearce made way for new managerial development?
England, on paper, seemed to have all the credentials for a winning campaign. Premier League regulars such as Liverpool's Jordan Henderson, Tottenham's Danny Rose and Sunderland's Conner Wickham all starred. Exciting Premier League youngsters such as Tottenham's Steven Caulker and Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha also came along. The team was full of promise and big game experience.
So when the tactics are decided, the pep talk is delivered and the training and preparation in place. The only people who can win the game, are indeed these, seemingly capable players. Who's to know whether Pearce got it all wrong at the pre-game stage. All we have evidence of, is the players display on the pitch, and they clearly didn't deliver.
Sir Trevor Brooking and grass roots development
It is no secret that there is a chink in the chain of England's production line. English player's readiness after taking the step up from grass roots football in comparison to some of their European counterparts is some what vast and, at times, some what embarrassing.
It seems as though we are being left behind in the preparation stages for our 'future stars' and for us to produce in the future, we need players that are capable of producing at the highest level.
Teach them with a winning formula and that's all they will know, and all they will produce. They are sponges, soaking up information and replicating that on the pitch, so at times it's hard to blame the players themselves with such poor preparation.
There are pundits and football fans out there that deem the selection of some of England Under 21's biggest stars to the senior team, as the main cause for the problem. Player's such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere would all be eligible for an Under 21's call up, but have taken the step up to the senior squad.
Are these the same pundits and fans that, in the wake of England's European exit at the hands of Italy in 2012, were calling for excitement and young energy in their national side?
If we are to inject young blood into our senior set-up, the Under 21's have to be able to dig out more future stars from an improved training program for the same reason. To supply the senior set up. It should be a conveyor belt of progression and more importantly, well prepared talent.
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