Norwegian FA chief blasts England Under-21s for lack of desire

The Young Lions crashed out after losing all three group games while the Scandinavians reached the semi-final, and Bjarne Berntsen puts the difference down to motivation
England’s Under-21 players did not show enough desire in the European Championship, according to the vice-president of the Norwegian Football Association.

Bjarne Berntsen, who saw his country’s side defeat the Young Lions 3-1 in their group match, believes the Scandinavians were better motivated for the tournament in Israel.

Norway succumbed to a 3-0 semi-final defeat at the hands of reigning champions Spain on Saturday, but Berntsen believes their good run was down to desire.

"The most important thing is that every one of our players wants to be here, wants to perform, wants to win," he told the Independent.

"I can understand when you are a star in a Premier League club, your season has ended a month ago, you have to be mentally strong and you have to decide you want to be here.

“Maybe that can be a question to ask, if there is enough desire to be here, if it means enough for big players."

Much has been said over Stuart Pearce’s inability to pick the best available players, with many plying their trade in the senior squad.

Blackburn forward Josh King, who has featured for Norway’s senior side, took part in the competition and believes a team should use the best squad available.

King was one of four players in the senior squad who flew straight from a  World Cup qualifying match in Albania to join up with the Under-21 side, and that is what he believes is the difference.

"We landed at four o'clock in the morning and didn't get much sleep, but the boys beat England with only one of us four needing to come on,” he said.

“We have our best squad here. And if you want to win, that's the way to do it."