Stuart Pearce refuses to defend England Under-21 players after Israel defeat
I don't honestly see why I should be defending the players, let them come out here and defend themselves.
Quotes of the week
England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce refused to defend his players after a 1-0 defeat to Israel ensured they finish bottom of their European Championship Group.
The Young Lions' third defeat in a row ensured they would finish a miserable tournament without a point and without a goal from open play.
Speaking after the game a clearly frustrated Pearce offered up no excuses for his team's poor performance - with only captain-for-the-night Andre Wisdom escaping his ire.
He told Sky Sports: "We've been beaten three times; the players have to take that on the chin. I'm not coming out here and defending anyone, I'm sick to the back teeth of doing that in this tournament.
"The players have to deal with that, the players have to stand out here in front of you and the cameras and explain their performance.
"It's difficult to support them over the three matches we have played here. The standard we have set ourselves over a two-year period was a million miles from what we have seen at this tournament for many reasons.
"The bottom line is you expect your players to do the basics, hold the ball up, work back into position, if you've asked them to defend on the halfway line in respect to the opposition corner then you don't expect to stand in your technical area and tell them eight or nine times every time there's a corner; its basic football knowledge.
"I don't honestly see why I should be defending the players, let them come out here and defend themselves. Probably I wouldn't include Andre Wisdom in that, I thought he captained the side very well and hopefully will captain the side in the future."
Pearce's future as Under-21 boss was already in doubt and speculation will only increase after this latest defeat.
When quizzed on whether the result may push him closer to the sack, Pearce remained non-committal, adding: "I've no idea, it certainly won't affect my position, whether it affects the FA's I've no idea. I'm not a boom and bust person.
"I've taken this team into the tournament for the fourth time running - a lot of teams haven't done that. We were poor in this tournament, we were poor tonight. We got what we deserved.
"We'll get on the coach, go back to the hotel and fly home tomorrow and reflect on how poor we were."
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