‘Is it about development or winning?’ – Boothroyd fighting for his future after England U21s exit from the Euros

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Emile Smith-Rowe

The former Watford manager is facing growing calls to leave his post in charge of developing young players in English football

England Under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd is under intense pressure after seeing his talented side knocked out of the U21s European Championship at the group stage.

The Young Lions performed well in Slovenia in their final group game but a last-minute wonderstrike from Croatia’s Domagoj Bradaric saw them knocked despite a 2-1 win on the night.

It came after poor displays in the first two group games, which were lost to Switzerland and Portugal. More had been expected from a squad that featured Callum Hudson-Odoi, Emile Smith-Rowe and Curtis Jones.

Boothroyd’s side were also knocked out at the group stage in 2019, although Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are among the youngsters who have since gone onto bigger things.

The Football Association (FA) now has a decision to make on their manager’s future, with speculation that ex-Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and other candidates are being considered to replace him.

What was said?

Boothroyd has stated that he wants to remain in the job, pointing to his role in promoting players to Gareth Southgate’s senior team even though he hasn’t been able to achieve success in the tournament.

“I’m fielding a lot of questions about my future. The other key thing we are talking about is the role – is it winning or development? It’s a little bit foggy at the minute,” Boothroyd said. We’re not sure what it is.

“I know what it is, the rest of the coaches do – we’re part of a pathway to produce players for Gareth. I’m confident that I am doing what’s required or this job. If it’s about winning at Under-21 level and Gareth quite rightly takes your best players, the job is about producing players from 15 to 21 and up to the seniors.

“I can’t do anything other than what I’m doing now, which is getting players through. These horrific experiences and learning from them, there’s nothing like getting beat in the last few minutes of a game when we were excellent.

“We played fantastic football, created chances, hit the crossbar twice tonight and got beat on a thunderbolt shot that if the kid tried to do it another hundred times, he wouldn’t be able to do it again.”

What happens next and who decides?

Boothroyd continued to say that the FA have a meeting planned in the coming weeks with his contract due to expire in the next few months.

Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate and technical director John McDermott will be involved in the discussions, which Boothroyd hopes will see him continue.

“Gareth and John will let a bit of time go to gather our thoughts,” he added. “We’re due to do a review on senior team and under-21s. I can’t put a time on that but in a week or a couple of weeks, depending on what they have on.”

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