Football Psychology: Stuart Pearce – Whatever Happened To Psycho?

Football PsychologyHe was a club legend. A man who defined his career as a player with character, tenacity and a fighting spirit, that endeared him to fans of all clubs. But as a manager he is falling well short.

Stuart Pearce’s sacking as Forest manager came as no surprise. A home defeat to struggling Millwall put an end to his brief reign at The City Ground.

The image of Pearce on the pitch in euphoric celebration after the late winner at Derby, was a reminder of what might have been. The driven passionate punk rocker…putting all his emotions out there. Managing on the edge. That’s the Stuart Pearce we wanted to see. So where did he go? Whatever happened to Psycho?

You would imagine that a Stuart Pearce team would be in opposition faces; never letting them get time on the ball; be physically committed; passionate and hungry to win; courageous on the ball; working at a high intensity; a team full of leaders. These would be basic traits.

Yet Forest seemed a dull lifeless team. As if Pearce had suppressed his natural instincts. to create a team in his image. Suppressed Psycho. When in fact a ‘Psycho-Mindset’ would be perfect for the Championship.

Perhaps Pearce had been indoctrinated at management school. Following a managerial textbook rather than trusting his instincts and being himself. Exactly the leadership mistake rugby’s Martin Johnson made. Johnson took a contradictory softly softly approach to leadership during the 2011 World Cup, when in reality his players were desperate to be led by Johnson’s own brand of ruthlessness.

Or maybe Pearce wanted to mature beyond his Psycho image. Show the footballing world that he had more about him than that. More than just strong emotions. More than fearlessness. But if thats so, it looks like he has deserted his own core values, that served him so well as a player.

It is often said that top players don’t always make top managers. That their talent is a gift. And so they don’t know how to transfer what they know instinctively to others. But after his failure at Manchester City, you would have thought Stuart Pearce would have worked out what was missing in his leadership skill-set But like so many managers, he appears to have failed to undertake that critical self-examination.

In football management, the sacking and the failure is never the issue. It’s the failure to learn from it that is.

Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.