Ex-England boss lays into Arsenal and Manchester United players

Stuart Pearce

Former England Under 21 manager and caretaker England boss Stuart Pearce had a pop at Arsenal and Manchester United first-teamers today, and was also miffed about ex-Tottenham star Gareth Bale when he dropped out of the Olympic squad.

Pearce manager launched an attack on some of the players who could’ve played for the under 21’s at last season’s European Championship who had been selected for the senior team previously.

Speaking on Sky Sports La Liga podcast, Pearce named Arsenal and Manchester United stars Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere as players who could’ve taken part in the tournament during the summer in Israel.

The tournament ultimately ended up costing Pearce his job with the under 21’s with the post subsequently given to Gareth Southgate, as England finished bottom of their group without registering a point.

Pearce says it is a problem that as soon as players get into the senior team players do not want to take part in under 21 tournaments even if they are eligible.

He said: “From under 17 up to senior level there’s only Spain who’ve got a better qualifying record in tournaments than England.

“So we sit second in Europe on our qualification record, above Germany, above France of actually getting to the finals. It when we get to the finals it’s our problem, we actually go from second top in the group, of course we’ve got the players available and get through the qualification period. We go to second bottom off all the powerful nations in our record at major finals.”

“When we ask ourselves the question why, when you look you’ve only got to tell. Our first game of the under 21 tournament this summer, we had 17 players missing. Now out of those 17 you’re talking about Oxlade-Chamberlain, you’re talking about Phil Jones, you’re talking about Welbeck, you’re talking about Wilshere.

“Now, in our wildest dreams do you honestly think that England or any nation in the world can turn up in a major tournament without six or seven [players]? I think there was eight players with senior international caps that didn’t actually come that could’ve played for the under 21’s this summer.

“The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Jones’ they didn’t want to come.”

Pearce said that apathy played a part in so many players not wanting to take part, and acknowledged there were a couple of injuries.

The former England left-back also criticised Gareth Bale for not playing a part in Great Britain’s Olympic squad, where they were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage by South Korea on penalties.

Pearce said: “I spoke to him seven months prior to the Olympic games, I’m going to put the squad out on the Friday, on the Thursday he rings me and says his back is not so good and he’ll have to pull out of the squad. He plays the first game for Tottenham in pre-season as we play our first Olympic game.

“The brightest talent in Britain at the time didn’t want to go the Olympic games, and he wasn’t alone by the way. A couple of the others as well because of the media hype and football shouldn’t be in the Olympics and all that.

“You ask the 23 players who went to the Olympics. You ask Bellamy, you ask Giggs, you ask players of that ilk what they felt about the Olympic experience and they’ll say arguably it could’ve been the best experience of their life.”

image: © stella gonzales

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