The man the English press should really be targeting

The man the English press should really be targeting

It’s interesting as much as it is maddening to see how the media portray the current England set-up. A few months ago lauded as the man to take us to World Cup glory, Fabio Capello is now ruthlessly and spitefully criticised at every turn.

Even a hugely comfortable 4-0 win over Bulgaria wasn’t enough to ease the despair hanging over the senior side at the moment. But Capello is not even close to being our biggest problem.

Step forward Stuart Pearce. Here is the man given the task of moulding the best of the young English talent before they make the final step up to senior international status. A task he is failing again and again.

Before readers jump to conclusions, this isn’t a criticism of how he dealt with the Jack Wilshere situation – I actually think only he can possibly make that decision, and with England winning fairly comfortably in Portugal you have to say he got it spot on. Man management is one of the few areas of coaching where Pearce can be trusted as far as I’m concerned.

His team and squad selection though, leaves plenty to be desired. Instead of picking a team to develop, the players most likely to become successful senior internationals, time after time he calls up and starts the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Michael Mancienne, Danny Rose and Fabrice Muamba. Physique and experience is constantly preferred to talent and technical ability, results given complete priority over development. The worst part is, as England face Lithuainia in a game where a win might still not be enough to take the U21s through to the play-offs, ‘Psycho’ hasn’t even got his team winning.

Take Germany’s approach to the Under 21s, they won the U21 Championship in 2009 because they had brought the most talented players through, in a system that worked for international football, and they embarassed England in the final just as they did in the senior World Cup this summer with six of the same players. In stark contrast, not a single of Pearce’s players that day were named in Capello’s squad for South Africa.

Tactically Pearce is equally inept, probably best illustrated by Friday when Michael Mancienne was chosen to play in midfield in what was a must-win game against Portugal. In the end England breezed through, but if Mancienne or a player like him ever plays in defensive midfield for the senior side it will be a dark, dark day for English football. We don’t need to mimick Spain’s style to be successful – indeed, it will be a very long time before we’re capable of that – but not wasting possession is crucial to international success and Pearce’s brand of glorified kick-and-run park football will always come undone.

I fear for English football when I read the newspaper columns berating Capello in one paragraph and then praising Pearce in the next. The Italian is a world class manager who was without doubt let down by underperforming players and a few suspect decisions after a hugely successful qualification campaign. The Englishman is a poor manager who, if anything, is damaging the supply of English footballers available to Capello. You tell me who the papers should really be calling to resign.

About the Author