Who’s the man to inspire the Young Lions after Pearce departure?
Stuart Pearce has been released from his role as England Under-21 head coach after six years in charge and a hugely disappointing European Championships in Israel.
The team finished bottom of Group A, which included Italy, Norway and the hosts, after not picking up a point and scoring just once in three matches. The campaign was a stark contrast to qualifying, in which England topped their group, finishing five points ahead of Norway and winning seven out of eight matches.
Pearce spoke of his frustration at not being able to select the best players in the age category as the likes of Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain travelled with the full team to play a friendly in Brazil, while players such as Isco, David de Gea and Thiago Alcantara all starred for Spain.
With Pearce gone though, we now take a look at who the new man may be.
The bookies have made Gareth Southgate favourite at 4/6 (Paddy Power). He is currently head of elite development at the Football Association, working alongside Trevor Brooking, so he already knows the set up and was also capped 57 times for England. His only experience in management to date, however, was at Middlesbrough where he suffered relegation in 2009 and was sacked three months into the Championship campaign, although the side were in the play-off positions. Boro went on to finish mid-table under Gordon Strachan. Southgate would be an obvious choice for the role as he will have a good understanding of the set up and the need to improve the link between the Under-21s and the first team.
Joint second favourite is Michael Appleton at 2/1 (Ladbrokes). The former Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool and Portsmouth manager worked as assistant to Roy Hodgson at West Brom, having been caretaker following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. However his short tenures at Blackpool and Blackburn may have damaged his reputation after he remained dignified during the fiasco at Portsmouth. The link with Hodgson though, could be crucial.
Peter Taylor is also priced at 2/1 (Ladbrokes). Currently the England Under-20 manager, he’s already been in charge of the Under-21s twice, between 1996-99 and 2004-07, but could be seen as a step back with the emphasis now on trying to bring through emerging coaches. Although, as was shown by the employment of Hodgson in the national job, experience may win over the FA.
Other interesting prices offered include Glenn Hoddle at 12/1 (Paddy Power), Steve McClaren 16/1 (Sky Bet), Sol Campbell 20/1 (Bet Victor and Stan James), Harry Redknapp 40/1 (Sky Bet) and Neil Warnock at 66/1 (various).