Pearce positive on new football centre

Stuart Pearce believes the National Football Centre at St George's Park will create a greater link between the England coach and the Three Lions age-group teams.

Football News: Stuart Pearce

During his four-year stint in charge, it was noticeable how little time Fabio Capello devoted to anything other than the senior team.

It was something Capello received criticism for and, although he was impressed by the NFC when taken on a tour not long before he sensationally quit as national team boss, Capello knew he would play no part in the landmark venture.

In contrast, Pearce, as England Under-21 coach, has kept a close eye on the work taking place at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 level.

And, in an ideal world, he feels the senior coach should have a similar interest.

"I make it my business to see what is going on with the Under-19s, Under-17s and Under-16s," said Pearce.

"Going forward, you would like to think the next man through the door would have an eye to what is coming below him, right through to Under-16 level."

Pearce was speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, the day after it was confirmed the Football Association were looking for a technical director, who will be based at the Burton complex.

Gerard Houllier carried out a similar role with the French national side and, having identified a major flaw in England's development of players from 18 to 21, he believes the appointment is long overdue.

"It is brilliant to have St George's Park," said Houllier.

"It will bring unity, identity, philosophy, everything.

"It is funny. This is the home of football, but the home of football did not have a proper house. It is about time."

Gareth Southgate has been suggested as one candidate for the technical director's role, which will be based at the Burton complex, which is due to open its doors in September.

"The technical director is a really important appointment," said St George's Park chairman David Sheepshanks.

"That person will be responsible for bringing together and managing all the different work streams for the football side, which is the biggest thing St George's Park is about."

A regular complaint levelled against the National Football Centre is the FA has no access to players.

Yet Sheepshanks does not view that as a negative.

He feels the entire concept is about providing the best opportunities possible for young players to learn.

"Behind any top athlete is a great coach," said Sheepshanks.

"Where do you start? By having the most inspirational teachers you can find, who in turn encourage intelligent, decision-making players. It snowballs from there.

"It is not just for the elite of the game. It cascades all the way down to the grass roots.

"We know what our stars do gets replicated all over the country in schools.

"The better standards we set in how we teach the game, the better it is for everyone. That is what St George's Park will do."

And Pearce does feel a subtle change in emphasis is required to try and marry the more physical attributes of the English game with the more technical approach of continental Europe.

"Instead of telling the youngsters what to do, we should be asking what they like," said Pearce.

"Three weeks ago, I went to Barcelona and watched their youngsters. I have also seen how technically gifted some of the Under-14 players in Switzerland are.

"We tend to be gung-ho from start to finish trying to get results, when what we should be doing is taking pressure off the coaches, who in turn will be able to take pressure off the players.

"At that age, it should be about having a good experience and developing, whether that is to be a professional player, semi-professional player or park player on a Sunday."

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