England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce believes the European Championships will be harder to win than the World Cup and says the Three Lions cannot afford to make a slow start to the tournament.
England, beaten 3-2 by the Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday, have just two friendlies left before their opening Euro 2012 game against France in June and have little time to fine-tune their preparations.
Pearce, who has indicated a willingness to lead England at the finals if a permanent successor to Fabio Capello is not found, said the concentration of quality at the Euros made it a tougher challenge than the World Cup.
"The French are in there, Ukrainians on home soil and obviously the Swedes," Pearce said, referring to England's first round opponents.
"The one thing a World Cup would probably throw up is a match against a lesser nation that would allow you to gather momentum by getting out of the group," he added.
"In the Euros you have to hit the ground running. And make no mistake, with France in the first game we have got to be running very quickly."
While France's Euro preparations got a timely boost in midweek with a 2-1 win in Germany, England's build-up has taken on a chaotic look, with the team still looking for a manager and a captain.
Football Association director Trevor Brooking has suggested England could wait until a few days before Euro 2012 before installing a manager for the tournament, a disclosure that has added to the sense of disarray.
Pearce however is adamant that England's situation is not as serious as has been portrayed.
"It's not the message I am getting from the public," Pearce said.
"They were a little bit excited by the team we put out (against Holland). How they view and decode the performance is down to them.
"I will look at the performance when the dust settles.
"Over-expectation always follows the England team. Under-expectation as well.
"We have to handle that within the group."