LONDON (AFP) – Stuart Pearce's reign as England Under-21 coach came to an end on Tuesday as it was announced he would not be offered a new contract following the side's humiliating first round exit at the European championships this month.
The 51-year-old former England defender has been in charge for six years guiding them to the 2007 semi-finals and the 2009 final where they lost heavily to a German side that contained the likes of Mesut Oezil and Sami Khedira.
However, two successive group stage exits since then have prompted the change despite Pearce receiving some sympathy for having several key players unavailable.
Pearce was also heavily critical of the players he did take to Israel where they lost all three group games to Norway, Israel and Italy, who lost 4-2 to Spain in the final on Tuesday.
It was something of a comedown after they had entered the finals unbeaten since November 2011 and having not concede a goal in their last nine matches.
"I'd like to thank Stuart Pearce for his hard work," said departing FA chairman David Bernstein.
"Nobody can doubt his commitment to the job throughout his time as Under-21 coach.
"He has done extremely well in qualifying for finals tournaments, but after the disappointment of the past two tournaments we believe it is time to change coach.
"On behalf of everyone at the FA, I'd like to wish Stuart well for the future."
The FA said no decision has been made on Pearce's successor.
Former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate - the bookmakers' favourite - and ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle have been linked with the post.
Michael Appleton, who worked with England manager Roy Hodgson and FA director of elite development Dan Ashworth at West Bromwich Albion, and recently-retired Everton midfielder Phil Neville, who was part of Pearce's backroom staff in Israel, are other possible candidates.