The Olympics have not yet started, though Stuart Pearce, the coach of Great Britain’s ad hoc Olympic Soccer team, is already presenting excuses for the inevitable failure. Pearce is already whining about the English FA’s selection policy, blocking him from taking eligible players who played at Euro 2012. Once describing said policy as “sensible,” he now blames it for forcing him to field a weakened squad.
“When I’m expected to debrief my employers after the tournament I’ll make it clear that there are one or two individuals not here who should be,” said Pearce.
“I’ll continually send the same message out that we have to take our best players to every tournament. Not just for the sake of the manager or the coach but for the players themselves; they have to experience tournament football.”
England’s policy places “Team GB” at a disadvantage. Mexico and Brazil, having not played a major international tournament, field full strength age-restricted squads. Spain, in a similar situation to England, permitted the Olympic team to call up Juan Mata, Javi Martinez and Jordi Alba who played at Euro 2012. Only the latter featured prominently.
Pearce was only allowed to bring reserve goalkeeper Jack Butland to the London Games. Players such as Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck and Jordan Henderson would have been helpful. What we would dispute is there is some intangible benefit accrued by players “experiencing tournament football” at the Olympics when they just “experienced tournament football” in Euro 2012 and have experienced a higher standard of “tournament football” in the Champions League.
Theo Walcott experienced Pearce’s “take our best players to every tournament,” when despite already featuring for the full national team in 2009, Walcott was called up for England’s U-21 World Cup. He suffered an injury early in his training for Arsenal, never found his footing that season and missed out on England’s squad for South Africa. This time around Walcott likely would be best served spending a few weeks on a beach allowing his hamstring to heal.
The only person the “take our best players to every tournament” policy is likely to benefit is Stuart Pearce, now auditioning for a job after being dumped from his England role by Roy Hodgson. The true villain is fate, knocking out players Pearce thought he would have such as Gareth Bale and Jack Rodwell.
[Photo via Getty]