Stuart Pearce suffers late defeat against the Dutch at Wembley: Is he the man to take England forward?
Stuart Pearce’s audition for the England manager’s job ended in late heartbreak at Wembley, and seemed to ask more questions than it answered.
The pressing topic for fans of the English national team over the last couple of weeks has, understandably, been the identity of the men at the helm for the upcoming European Championships. Tonight’s match was never likely to provide a definitive answer to those questioning whether Stuart Pearce, or ‘Psycho’ as he is affectionately known, will be the man taking England into the next major tournament. Many question whether he will ever be good enough, but that is an argument for another day.
His decision to delay the appointing of his captain until a few hours before kick-off, despite the fact he claimed he had decided on who would be skipper two weeks ago, was odd and demonstrated a man eager to make the most of his moment in the sunshine. He didn’t even inform the players of his decision until the morning of the Holland game.
He opted for Scott Parker and it now seems highly likely that the man who first came to everybody’s attention as a fresh-faced schoolboy way back in 1994 when he appeared on an advert prior to the World Cup, will be captaining England for their opening game of Euro 2012 in Donetsk. Harry Redknapp, the people’s choice to take over in the summer, would find it find it hard to overlook Parker even if he wasn’t managing him at club level.
The match itself was not a totally abject performance from England, as we have become increasingly accustomed to seeing under the Wembley arch. There were positives, notably the fighting spirit Stuart’s men showed to roar back from the brink of defeat with a two-goal salvo in the final five minutes. Maybe some of Pearce’s never-say-die attitude and commitment to the cause that he was so famed, and acclaimed, for in his playing days had rubbed off on the England players. Maybe, for it certainly wasn’t any of his tactical nous or genius.
All in all, we were shown an English team characteristically short on technical quality, clever movement, or incisive short passes. Nothing new of course, and Pearce cannot be blamed for the technical shortcomings of many of his players. That he managed to lift his players to produce a second-half comeback shouldn’t be knocked, and England did display a certain amount of fight that appeared to be lacking under his predecessor Fabio Capello in the latter part of the Italian’s reign. However, will instilling passion and commitment into his players be enough for Pearce take England deep into the European Championships? Almost certainly not and a permanent appointment by the FA cannot come quick enough.