England, Stuart Pearce and the pressures of interim management
Interim management can sometimes be a bit of a poisoned chalice. It can be an exciting challenge to temporarily manage resources through a period of transition, crisis or change, but always around the corner you know the final whistle will be sooner rather than later.
So how has Stuart Pearce stacked up against the management theorists? The Institute of Interim Management suggests there is a need for clarity on objectives for his role as well as significant analysis of the current situation.
I believe Pearce has clarity on his role in terms of a clear focus on succession planning and talent management – particularly how uncapped players respond to the pressures of international football.
So we should not be judging Pearce on the results on the pitch, but how effectively he has created the right environment for the players and the rest of the England team for the future manager.
Interim management requires Pearce to present a detailed proposal of his analysis and understanding of the current challenges England face in the forthcoming European Championships.
So despite losing the one match he has had in charge so far, there’s an argument to say it’s a case of ‘so far so good’. He has showcased the talent available for the Euros and has tried to give his successor as much evidence as possible on which to base his selection for Poland and Ukraine.
Yet we should also ask the question how independent is Pearce remaining as interim manager? He is involved in the players’ development, friendly games, planning for the Euros and generally holding the fort.
But there will always be key decisions he is making as interim manager that are around the long-term performance of England that he should or should not be addressing.
Not all of the challenges he faces will be black and white, only he will know if he is truly aiming to make himself indispensible by dealing with the more serious long-term issues in the England camp.
We must also ask the question of whether the Football Association (FA) have thought about managing his exit more effectively than they did Capello’s, or whether they even need to? Do a good enough job and he may get the post – in fact Pearce did not attempt to play that prospect down recently.
Electing to name Scott Parker as his captain for the defeat against Holland, rather than go for the safe option of Steven Gerrard, was a significant step and a decision supported by his peers.
In conclusion the job of an interim manager is to ensure his/her objectives have been met, that the organisation is satisfied with performance and complete a general knowledge and skills transfer to their successor.
Going back to England, Pearce may well be involved in the selection panel for the new manager, but time will tell which side of the interview table he will be sitting.