England 2-3 Holland: What The Papers Say
Stuart Pearce's first game as England manager ended in injury time defeat, thanks to Arjen Robben's deflected winner.
Two-nil down with less than ten mintes remaining, the Three Lions roared back to level the game courtesy of goals from Gary Cahill and Ashley Young, after Robben opened the scoring and Klaas Jan Huntelaar doubled the lead.
But despite the narrow scoreline, England were largely outclassed by their technically better visitors. The newspapers appear unanimous on Pearce's credentials as future coach. So, it would seem, does Pearce...
The Times splash with "Robben delivers knockout blow" as Holland "prove too good for Pearce's new-look England team". Matt Dickinson does a two-page piece on the "same old limitations", where he charts how FA "delight at how Pearce handled his audition behind the scenes" was curbed when the interim coach was "reminded of the scale of the challenge to build an international team from uneven resources". Matt Hughes meanwhile focuses on the Dutch's superior technique and that a "late fightback cannot disguise (the) gulf in class" in his post-match review.
Over at Telegraph Sport, there's the sensationalised headline of "HEARTBREAK" as the ever patriotic Henry Winter casts doubt on his presence at Wembley by rewarding Gary Cahill with a "7". There's praise for Scott Parker's legwork but Paul Hayward offers a dose of reality by insisting that the "Dutch masters paint grim picture for whoever fills electric chair". Electric.
Stuart Pearce's quote that the "Full-time manager of England is somebody else" features prominently on The Guardian's front sport page, as if to reaffirm his unsuitability. Chief football writer Daniel Taylor comments on how "every time Holland tired of being obliging opponents and moved up a gear it was alarming to see the imbalance of talent between the two sides". Dominic Fifield meanwhile opts to draw a positive, insisting that the grassroots strides England are making is cause for optimism after what was "an education" against the Oranje.
Sir Trevor Brooking's assertion that the next England manager may be "parachuted in" on the eve of Euro 2012 is the telling quote on The Independent's back page. Sam Wallace pours over the "same old anxieties" whilst James Lawton comments on how Harry Redknapp and the belated wait is an "England drama that may just be a repeat".
The Daily Mail send out a message of conscription, urging the FA to "GET ON WITH IT" and go for Harry Redknapp, complete with dejected picture. Martin Samuel advises that England "get down to business", stating that the game was "never meant to be an audition" for Pearce.
Over to the red tops, and the Daily Mirror innovatively go with "Ash, Bang Wallop" with a with a picture guide of Ashley Young's equaliser, Chris Smalling and Klaas Jan Huntelaar's "bang" and Arjen Robben walloping in the winner on a "mad night" for the Three Lions. Inside it's "WE NEED A MIRACLE" as "Stu fluffs his audition" with just 99 days to go until the Ukraine and Poland championships. Oliver Holt, president of the Scott Parker Supporters Club (to be confirmed), is however considered over the new England captain, stating he typified his team. Ie. he "was good... but just not good enough".
Finally, The Sun, buoyantly proclaim "A HOLL LOT OF HOPE" and "WE'VE GOT TO BELIEVE" with a more auspicious review of Pearce's credentials, although conclude he is the wrong man for the role.