Wednesday 1 July ~
There are two types of articles written about Stuart Pearce these days. The first focuses on how the man known as "Psycho" in his playing days still applies the same level of intensity and competitiveness to his job as a coach. The second claims that there is a side to Pearce that we rarely get to hear about – the thoughtful, quietly spoken man who always takes a keen interest in the cultures of the countries he visits.
If the FA's public relations department has their wits about them, we can expect to hear a lot more about the "other side" of Stuart Pearce soon as a corrective to the negative coverage of his conduct at the European Under-21 Championship. "Psycho" has been made to look a bit of a fool lately.
England did well to reach the final in Sweden, although once they got there some of the old failings asserted themselves, notably a lack of creativity in midfield and an inability to retain possession. Meanwhile, Pearce's own behaviour on the touchline suggested that he wasn't coping at all well with the pressures of the job.
During England's 4-0 defeat by Germany, he ranted in the face of one of the fourth officials and made as though to punch one of the opposition players – but this won't have come as a surprise to anyone who had seen his surly performances at press briefings, where just about every question was treated as an impertinence.
"He is very excitable but he doesn't lose clarity," says Pearce's assistant Steve Wigley, who then went on to illuminate an aspect of his boss's playing style: "He'd kick you but it was with an icy glare. You didn't see Stuart Pearce punching or elbowing people." So he was fundamentally honest when dishing out the rough treatment – old-fashioned English violence rather than any of that sneaky continental stuff.
You would expect managers to be immersed in their jobs – Fabio Capello is as intense as they come. But Capello also knows how to conduct himself in public. Pearce, by contrast, still comes across as a petulant adolescent. "He is the first to admit that he has a lot to learn," says the FA’s director of football, Trevor Brooking. Pearce hasn't said as much because he flew out of Sweden without attending the post-tournament media conference. That sort of stuff is for wimps, you see. Carl Hawkins