Stuart Pearce blames players after England Under-21s defeat

 

Stuart Pearce blamed his England players after another poor European Under-21 Championship display but hinted he wanted to stay in the job.

Ofir Kriaf's 81st-minute winner for Israel means the Young Lions, one of the pre-tournament favourites, return home pointless after three defeats.

"The players haven't delivered," Pearce, whose future as coach will be discussed by the Football Association in the next fortnight, told BBC Sport.

"I'm really disappointed with my team."

"Some of the players gave the impression that they were on the beach, and I stress some of them. I'm not sure if they were ready for this tournament. They seemed to lack self-belief and unification, they didn't play well together."

"I honestly don't believe I should be here answering questions on behalf of the players," added Pearce.

"They should be here answering questions on why their performances were so poor, to be honest with you.

"I don't think it's my responsibility at this stage to answer for a performance as bad as that.

"We've lost games before, but collectively in this tournament we haven't delivered for whatever reason. The players have to come out and be strong and ask themselves 'how am I going to get better?'"

The former Manchester City manager, who is out of contract at the end of the month, said: "I've no idea [whether England's results and performances in Israel will impact his chances of continuing in his role].

"You look around Europe over six years and see that our team is the only team that has been here four times running.

"We've lost very few games - bar this tournament - in tournament football over the years and played some very good football over that time, so there's a middle ground somewhere."

England, who averaged three goals per game in qualifying, return home from Israel on Wednesday having failed to secure a single point - or a goal from open play - in 270 minutes of action.

After starting with a 1-0 defeat by Italy, their only goal came from a Craig Dawson penalty when they were already trailing 3-0 to Norway last Saturday.

Pearce steered England to the 2007 semi-finals, where they lost on penalties to the Netherlands, before losing in the 2009 final against Germany.

Current players eligible for England's 2015 qualifiers

Tom Ince, Jack Butland, Connor Wickham, Andre Wisdom, Josh McEachran, Jonjo Shelvey, Nathaniel Chalobah, Wilfried Zaha, Nathan Redmond and Jack Robinson.

However, they have now failed to advance past the group stage in the last two tournaments.

Asked why England had been so poor, Pearce said: "Maybe there wasn't enough talent here.

"The bottom line is the results were not good enough. We lost three games and we'll get on a plane and reflect on how bad we were.

"This is the business end of the tournament and we got what we deserved.

"I don't think we deserved to win a game. Credit to the Israelis, they deserved to beat us.

"If you don't turn up and work hard enough in any given tournament, you won't get any success and that was typical of today and probably the two games prior to it."

England start their qualification campaign for the 2015 European Under-21 Championship on 5 September at home to Moldova.

They are in the same qualifying group as Wales, Lithuania, Finland and San Marino.