England Under-21s captain Jordan Henderson wants Stuart Pearce to stay on as manager despite an early European Championship exit the Liverpool midfielder cannot quite believe.
After nine successive wins without conceding, the Young Lions arrived in Israel among the favourites for the title.
Instead, they became the first side to exit the competition after woeful defeats to Italy and Norway put the semi-finals beyond them with a game to spare.
It is hardly how Pearce had hoped the tournament would pan out, especially having spoken of his desire to stay on as Under-21s manager before the opening game.
Whether the Football Association extends his contract past the end of the month remains to be seen and, despite overseeing group exits in successive tournaments, Henderson hopes he stays on. Of course [I want Pearce to stay],” the Young Lions skipper said. “He has been a brilliant manager since I’ve come into the 21s.
“Obviously you can see his record - we got to the final a few tournaments ago and lost to a good team in Germany.
“He has been brilliant with all of us so I would love to see him stay on.”
Despite such backing, Pearce is odds on with the bookmakers to leave the Under-21s post.
It is no real surprise given England failed so miserably in a group many had expected them to qualify from.
“I can’t believe it,” Henderson said. “There was high hopes going into the tournament.
“It is very disappointing and all the lads were devastated in the dressing room, but I think we battled and kept on going to the end.
“I am not sure [why things have gone wrong]. I think the Italy game was really bad. We didn’t play well at all and got beat, which was really disappointing.
“I thought we played better against Norway, to be honest. I think we dominated the game, dominated possession of the ball but we have conceded very bad goals as well so we can’t believe it, really.”
Amongst the many reasons for the Under-21s’ failure is the fact key eligible players were unavailable to Pearce.
Instead of travelling to Israel, the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck played friendlies for the senior team against Ireland and Brazil.
“If you look at other countries they do bring their best players,” Henderson said. “Obviously we didn’t bring a few that were with the senior team. At the same time, that gives other people an opportunity to come in and show what they can do.
“You can say that but we can’t use that excuse, to be honest. We’ve got one more game left and have to go out with a bang.”
That final chance to restore some pride comes in the form of Tuesday’s Group A dead rubber against hosts Israel in Jerusalem.
“We’ve got to be professional, got to go out there because we’re still playing for England at the end of the day,” Henderson added.
“You are still putting that shirt on and you’re playing for pride. That’s what we will be doing for the last game.
“We will be going out there and we will be playing for pride more than anything. We will show that we still do care and it still means the world to us.”