By the time Stuart Pearce stepped out for his first official engagement as England manager yesterday, the only outward part of him that was still "Psycho" was the haircut: a surprise switch back to the tried and trusted side-parting of yesteryear. As for the rest of it, this was Pearce the England manager – or at least Pearce the caretaker England manager.
Of course, "Psycho" is never too far from the surface. Certainly Fabio Capello never managed references to the 1966 World Cup, Afghanistan and Euro '96 in one press briefing. Pearce has been through modern coaching education but his background is in English football, from non-league to the Premier League.
He made a strong pitch that he could manage England at Euro 2012. He based it upon the argument that he has been to three European Championships as an Under-21s coach and has the experience of tournament football that no other candidate possesses. It was an interesting point for a man who looks a caretaker and no more.
The FA has been good for Pearce after his departure from Manchester City in 2007, leaving him in charge of the U21s and inserting him into Capello's staff. Despite this, leaving Pearce in charge for Euro 2012 is very much the last option on the table. He will be manager on Wednesday and then return to the U21s.
When Pearce made clear that he would not put himself forward for the job full-time, it probably told you everything you needed to know.
"I don't sit here and pretend I've got the answers to all the ills in football," Pearce said. "I'm learning. I'm a pretty lightly-raced coach, if you like. I retired as a player when I was 40 and in some ways that held my coaching back. I've picked a team on about 160 occasions. The one thing I have got is a lot of tournament experience."
Pearce batted manfully for his employer. He discussed everything from his apology to Paul Ince in 1994 and his feelings of inadequacy at the 1990 World Cup to why he thought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should stay in the U21s. There was a touch of Uefa coachspeak to his description of the FA as a "federation" and when he said "talk and delivery is quite a different module".
"I don't think this [friendly against the Netherlands] will be a defining moment," he said. "I've a plan for myself, which is a continual slow process of education. Boom and bust won't come about. I took the U21s to the final against Germany for the first time in 25 years. I was lauded before the game and vilified after a 4-0 defeat. But in my mind it was another step in my education."
That passing mention to being "vilified" was a hint towards Pearce's attitude towards the press.
For better or for worse, non-engagement is not an option over the next five days . He had no problems with it yesterday. Convincing the FA he is the man to lead the team into Euro 2012 might be a little trickier.
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