Stuart Pearce should attack the clubs, not the players

Stuart Pearce should have thought twice before his recent comments about Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Manchester United's Phil Jones.

He should have thought twice because his comments were clearly born out of frustration over the failure of the England Under-21 side this summer, which ultimately cost him his job.

Pearce blames the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones and others who could have played for the Under-21 side over the summer for not showing enthusiasm towards the cause which is grossly unfair on them.

“Odd one was injury, but apathy played a big part in it - the Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, Phil Jones, they didn't want to come. Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don’t want to play in the Under 21s’ world,” said the 51-year-old.

The problem relates back to the whole club v country debate because players at top sides like Arsenal and Manchester United plus others are put under huge pressure by their employers not to play additional football when they don’t have to.

Footballers are seen as investments and sides that control the big name players and the future stars will always look to protect their players.

One good example contradicts Pearce’s implication that Gareth Bale pulled out of the Great Britain Olympic side last summer because he simply wasn’t interested in playing.

“We had a situation with Gareth Bale going into the Olympic Games. I was going to put squad out on Friday morning, then on Thursday he says his back hurts and he pulls out of the squad - We have the brightest talent in Britain at the time, and he didn't want to play in Olympic Games,” he added.

Mexico’s Javier Hernandez was due to play at the Olympic Games before then Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson stepped in and prevented the player from doing so.

That’s the biggest sign that clubs are putting pressure on players at all stages not to go and play unnecessary football for their countries unless it’s a qualifier or tournament situation headed by Fifa.

A possible suggestion he’s raised is something similar to what is currently used by the Spanish Under-21 side, where some of their main players are prevented from playing at senior level to guard against the risk they will have to step back down to Under-21 football.

That may be a good idea in theory but the context of Spanish youth football and English youth football is completely different and if some of the best young players in the country are stopped from playing for the senior side, they may not be quite so understanding as their Spanish counterparts.

The message here is simple and it’s one which relates to clubs, not individual players because if the players disobey their man employers, that only spells trouble in a big way.

What do you think? Is Pearce right to attack the players or should he go after the clubs?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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