Could Stuart be the missing “Pearce” for England?

With all sections of the media, social networking sites, current and former managers and even England footballers themselves all giving there seal of approval for Harry Redknapp to be the next England manager I thought it would be a good time to try and build a possible case for why “Psyco” Stuart could in fact be the missing “Pearce” for England and take on the job full time.

Identity 

With the media frenzy surrounding John Terry’s impending court case, the FA chiefs intervention in stripping the aforementioned Terry of his Captaincy without discussing the issue with Fabio Capello, who thus decided to express his own thoughts about the matter on Italian TV it is clear that the England National Team finds itself at a cross roads…with no real direction and true identity to drive them forward in their preparations for Euro 2012 and more importantly beyond.

Stuart Pearce England Press Conference

This preparation in mind and the upcoming International Friendly game vs Holland at Wembley this week the FA acted swiftly to install Stuart Pearce as interim manager. The appointment was no real surprise and was a sensible choice, being that Pearce who was assistant coach to Fabio Capello knows the current England player climate and environment better then most and his involvement with England’s U21 and Youth Pathway gives him some very powerful tools at his disposal.

If England were ever looking for identity, leadership and trying to restore a sense of national pride then you only have to look at the playing career of Stuart Pearce who epitomized the 3 Lions, heart on the sleeve, blood and guts approach that lets face it every English fans loves…but what Pearce has also developed since leaving his beloved game at 40 is instilling this approach, feeling and identity to the next crop of talented England prospects.

Coaching 

After ending his playing career at Manchester City in 2002 he remained at the club as a coach under then manager Kevin Keegan. Three years later in March 2005 Stuart Pearce was appointed caretaker manager after Keegan left the club and after a successful run of form was given the job on a permanent basis, and with the remainder of the 2004-05 season under Pearce Manchester City narrowly missed out on Europe on the last day of the season. Despite a promising start to the 2005-06 season Manchester City finished 15th in the Premier League and after Pearce failed to bring any improvement in the 2006-07 season Stuart Pearce was sacked at the end of the season in May 2007.

Stuart Pearce - Full time England manager?

In February 2007 prior to his sacking at Manchester City Pearce had been appointed manager of the England U21 Team, which was initially part time due to his club duties at City. Under his guidance Pearce led England to the semi finals of the 2007 UEFA Under-21 Championships where they were eliminated on penalties by the hosts Netherlands. With this immediate success Pearce landed the England U21 role full time after his sacking at Manchester City.

Pearce’s coaching role with England was further extended when in 2008 new manager Fabio Capello appointed him as a coach for the senior team in addition to his U21 duties. Following this in June 2009 Pearce again led his U21 side to the UEFA Under-21 Championships in June 2009 whee they reached the final only to lose 4-0 to Germany and finish runners up…two final championship appearances and two final four placings.

England’s Future Lions

In my opinion there has been no better time then now for England to focus solely on the future of their national team and with the correct players creating an identity which these young “lions” can take forward not only into Euro 2012 but Brazil 2014 and beyond.

If we take a look at some of the players Stuart Pearce has worked with and given international opportunities to at the England U21 Level there is some real evidence for England fans and the media to get behind the project and get excited. Below is the squad Stuart Pearce named for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship last summer;

England U21 Squad 2011 - Wikipedia

The list above is enough evidence that the future of English football is bright and if given the correct guidance under the right project could be very successful. Nearly 10 months on and the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Danny Wellbeck are integral members of title chasing Manchester United (bar injury), and others such as Kyle Walker, Daniel Sturridge, Kieran Gibbs, Jordan Henderson, and Fabrice Muamba are also integral members of their respective Premier League clubs. When was the last time we saw so many of England’s U21 and next brightest talent playing week in week out at the highest level?

If you add the core of this squad with current established England Internationals; Joe Hart, Glenn Johnson, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, Scott Parker, Ashley Young, Steven Gerrard, and Wayne Rooney with other players on the fringe; Adam Johnson, Micah Richards, Stuart Downing, and Andy Carroll and the new kids on the block such as; Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Wilfrid Zaha (Crystal Palace) and Nathan Redmond (Birmingham) all of a sudden there is a sense of real freshness and vitality about an otherwise predictable and one dimensional England squad we saw under Fabio Capello.

Euro 2012 & beyond; Brave, Bold & new Beginnings

With this summers European Championships in Poland & Ukraine a matter of months away England may just have to swallow their pride, take some risks, think outside the square and start to lay foundations for the future…after all they have never done this before so why not try it? Forget relying on the old guard, bring in the new and the exciting who will head out and play without fear, fear from failure which continues to grip a nation that is obsessed with winning and results.

Here are some of my thoughts around a squad of players England could and should look at for both the Euro 2012 Championships and beyond. I have taken into account current injuries that are more then likely to rule players out of the summer (Wilshire, Bent) and also a natural transition looking ahead to qualifiers and Brazil 2014;

England Squads; Euro 2012 & Beyond?

If we look at both squads there are over 10 players that Stuart Pearce has worked with at International Level with the U21 and if you include his time at Fabio Capello in the senior environment we can include virtually all the players listed. Pearce gave many of these younger players their first taste of international football and through his guidance at the U21 level the likes of Wellbeck, Smalling, Jones, Sturridge, Walker, and Cleverley are now knocking on the door and/or have a handful of full England caps under there belts.

I mentioned earlier the powerful tools that Stuart Pearce has at his disposal; firstly knowing inside and out the qualities and characteristics of England’s next best talent coming through. Secondly his experience with Fabio Capello and exposure to the Senior England environment over the past 4 years has given him enough ingredients to know what direction the “new” England needs to move away from and grow into. Lastly putting aside his vast personal coaching development over the past 6 years to one side, Stuart Pearce will always be Stuart Pearce and you can guarantee he would ensure this new generation of England players understand exactly what it means to play for your country.

Conclusion

There is no question in my mind that England should invest in an Englishman as there next manager. Despite the lack of top English coaches plying their trade at the top level I feel it would make sense to make such an appointment. If you also take into account the likes of Phil Neville who has moved into coaching role with the England U21 and David Beckham who has hinted he would like to get into coaching after hanging up his boots, its very important the FA invest in what could also be a new generation of ex players wanting to coach in the game.

Would Stuart Pearce do a better job then everyones favorite Harry Redknapp? Well we cant predict the future, but what I have tried to present above is some of the advantages Pearce would have from Day 1 in the job. You could question both of their tactical knowledge of the game but this can be more then made up for at the International Level by hiring the appropriate back-room staff and investing in the next generation of England talent I presented, who I believe have/are beginning to show the qualities and characteristics required at the international level; Technical Ability, Decision Making Under Pressure & Mobility With/Without The Ball.

Whoever the FA decide should be the next England manager, what is clear and must happen is for them to put their total backing behind the new man and his project from Day 1, a man who recognizes previous failures and has an appreciation of the current crop of talent available and developing in the country…after all without opportunity talent is wasted.

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