Today Team GB manager Stuart Pearce announced the 18 footballers who are now officially Olympians – The players he has picked to play in the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament.
As a passionate football fan, especially when it comes to my nation, in recent years it has really frustrated me, the lack of our best players appearing in the so called lesser competitions, and I do believe that this is a big factor in why the senior side always disappoints
Team GB have a glorious chance at winning something in the Olympic Football Tournament, something that is rare for all four nations that make up Great Britain. We should be taking it seriously, like other teams have done in the past, and those teams have tended to be successful in doing that.
Calling up Championship standard players however is not the way to go about winning a tournament, and my optimism for our chances has reduced dramatically.
You look at the European Under 21 Championships last year, key players Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere didn’t go and we failed to qualify from the group, whilst Spain, who ended the tournament champions, had two World Cup winners in their side.
Did those three players benefit from missing out on tournament football, despite it being at Under 21 level? I wouldn’t really say so, and in Wilshere’s case, not representing his country was the worst thing to happen to him. He’s still months from returning from an injury picked up in the pre-season following.
And in my eyes there is all sorts wrong with Phycho’s Team GB selection. Our best Under 23 players are nowhere in sight. That’s because they went to Euro 2012 (needlessly in my opinion) and there’s a rule in place that those players aren’t available for selection.
Players like Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Martin Kelly, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Butland, who all contributed very little or nothing at all to our European Championship hopes, yet would have had plenty to offer our team at the Olympic Games.
Had we taken players such as Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Micah Richards, Adam Johnson to the Euros instead, not only does the England squad look much stronger but it would have allowed these younger players this once in a lifetime opportunity to play for Team GB and enhance our chances of success there.
Obviously players such as Carrick and Richards turned down standby positions within the England set up, but many argue both should have been in the squad originally.
I think those Under 23 players should be in the squad, they were deemed good enough for the England squad so the ability is there, and the experience would have done them the world of good. Perhaps if we were to win the competition, those players would become hungry for more success in the senior side.
Going back four years, Barcelona at first refused Lionel Messi the chance to play at the Beijing games, however new manager Pep Guardiola agreed let him go. He won gold and you can argue that kick-started his dominance of football.
I’m not saying we have a Messi in our ranks but teams like Argentina and Brazil last time round took the Olympics very seriously, and both finished with medals.
English clubs also deny the national team any success and that’s why those players haven’t been selected for Team GB. Birmingham City have given Jack Butland permission to play at the Olympics, but I can only assume other managers have not. Not that Pearce needed these clubs permission anyway.
The Olympic Football Tournament is a FIFA recognised competition, meaning no club can prevent an Under 23 player from being called up. The FA give clubs far too much respect, and it’s why we struggle so much in tournaments.
To me there is no greater honour in football than representing your country, and it’s clear, and very sad to see, that these days that the former wins the famous argument of Club v Country.
A lot needs to be done before England become a nation capable of winning things, and clubs need to help with that. The FA need to stand up to these clubs. They need to put a foot down and so should the players, should they be passionate enough to play for our country.
There’s nothing that can be done now, the squad’s been announced, and by all means I’ll support Team GB as far as they go in the Olympic Football Tournament, but unless we win the thing I’ll always believe we could have done better having called up our best 18 players.
I’d complain about the overage players as well, and the lack of David Beckham but our future is in our youth and they’re the ones who would have got the most out of this event.
I had a ticket to see Team GB in their opening game v Senegal at Old Trafford. Having seen the players called up, the likes of Marvin Sordell and Jack Cork and James Tomkins who were all playing in the Championship last season and without star attractions Beckham and Gareth Bale, to me the expenses of attending the game aren’t worth it anymore. I don’t believe I’m the only one to have lost some interest; some weren’t bothered in the first place.
I want the best for my country and I want to see us win something, at whatever level. I would have thought that with the help of Welsh players (and Scottish/Northern Irish had they been selected) we’d have grabbed this opportunity with both hands, especially as it’s on our turf too, as it looks like it’ll be quite some time before England host another tournament like this. I really don’t think we have though, and it’s such a shame.
Quite simply, we need to start taking competitions such as the Olympic Football Tournament and the other youth events seriously before we’ll ever challenge at senior level. Other nations have done it to great success. It’s about time we learnt from them.
Trying to think positively, there are still some great names in the squad and I guess we’ve no choice but to back the team now. I just hope in future tournaments we take our best players, like I’m sure Brazil and Spain will for London 2012, and they’ll probably be successful.
I very much hope Team GB prove me wrong though. I’ll be delighted should we win a medal.
That said, has any team managed by Pearce done particularly well?