Friday, 7 June 2013


ABOVE: Stuart Pearce has demanded changes to get England competing for top honours
7th June 2013

By Jack Wilson

STUART PEARCE has told the FA that England have to change its ways - or they will never win another World Cup.

Glory in 1966 was 47 years ago and even qualifying for the 2014 World Cup is not certain.

The England Under-21 chief believes that the approach to international tournaments HAS to change.

Pearce said: "We have done a study over the last 10 years. In that time, only Spain surpass us in terms of qualification for tournaments, from Under-17 level to the seniors.

"But when you flip it on its head and ask how many of our top 50 players who are playing in the senior squad now who have got tournament experience before they get there, we finish second bottom of the group.

"That study is around the top seven teams in Europe. It also incorporates the four top teams in South America and Mexico. The statistics are there.

"It is whether you want to ignore them and think it doesn't matter, we will just turn up and try to win a World Cup. Or do you want to put the building blocks in place?

"Experience is exactly that. I made my England debut when I was 25. I was nervous at Wembley.

"I had 20 caps before the World Cup in Italy but nothing prepared me for stepping out into the pressure that came my way.

"From that experience, I said 'that can't be right'. It is a pathway I do not want young players to tread.

"I want them to get that experience (of tournaments) before they step out on to that stage.

"You only have to look at the development of Theo Walcott. He went to the World Cup in 2006. Since then, he could have gone to two World Cups, two European Championships, three Under-21 European Championships, two Under-20 World Cups and an Olympic games, age permitting.

"I think he has only played five-and-a-half tournaments matches in that period.

"We have to address that, so our brighter players, like the Oxlade-Chamberlains, can get tournament experience - playing time - and don't just go to them."

Oxlade-Chamberlain is among the current crop of players that Pearce believes England have missed a trick with.

The Under-21s were without 17 eligible players for their European Championship opener against Italy.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was with the senior squad, was one of them.

Pearce added: "If you bring your best players, you stand a chance of winning the tournament.

"If you don't bring your best players, you take your chance when you get there. That applies to every country in the world."