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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 29, 2012

Pearce blames naivety for late setback

Caretaker manager Stuart Pearce admitted his inexperienced side showed "a little bit of naivety'' in the 3-2 friendly defeat by Netherlands at Wembley. Pearce's first game as England's interim manager ended in defeat as Arjen Robben scored an injury-time winner.

Netherlands struck twice in two minutes early in the second half through Robben and substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Gary Cahill and Ashley Young looked to have salvaged a draw for England by netting twice in three minutes but Robben had the final say.

"We probably showed a little bit of naivety and a slight lack of belief,'' Pearce told ITV1. "That's something we've got to get into the squad, going forward. Once we'd got ourselves back into the game, we're disappointed to have been beaten. But there were a few good showings, we learned a lot and that was the exercise.''

Asked if the result had given him an appetite for leading England at Euro 2012, Pearce said: "I've offered my services in the summer. I've really enjoyed the last few days. It's been fantastic and the players have been outstanding. Their focus and contribution in training has been very good. I enjoyed tonight.

"I don't think I took the post to prove anything to anyone. I'm in a situation as Under-21 manager and they needed someone to fill in on the short term and I also said 'if you need me to take the team to the Championships in the summer (I will)' and that's it. I'm sure they'll go through the process of getting someone in place before the summer and if they don't, then they know they have got me available and all the planning is done.''

Pearce explained his decision to give Scott Parker the captain's armband over the likes of Steven Gerrard.

"I feel as though he's got the personality around the other players and I think he would grow being the captain. I think the other players respect him and I think he's a very unselfish man. Make no mistake - there were a lot of candidates to do the job but I felt Scott was the right man for the job tonight. I spoke to Steve (Gerrard) quite a bit about international football and various other things but he's quite understanding. He quite understands that it's all part of the game," Pearce told Radio Five Live.

Pearce confirmed Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was hospitalised after a nasty clash of heads with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, while Gerrard managed only half an hour before coming off.

"Chris Smalling has a really bad gash on his head and I believe he's gone to hospital so I hope that's not too bad,'' he said. "Gerrard, he was just feeling a little bit tight so we took him off as a precautionary (measure) on the grounds we were only going to play him for 45 minutes anyway.''

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