As Team GB recover from a limp, 2-0 defeat to Brazil in their first and final warm-up game before the men's football competition at London 2012, how the British Olympic Association must be regretting the choice of Stuart Pearce as manager of the squad.
First of all, Pearce declined to pick David Beckham, one of the sport's most famous and bankable stars. Second, the senior players he has selected for the squad are not exactly the sporting role models the BOA might have been hoping for: Craig Bellamy is known for having allegedly attacked a teammate with a golf club at Liverpool, while Micah Richards refused to participate in England's Euro 2012 squad after the gross insult of being put on the standby list. As for Ryan Giggs - ask his brother.
Thirdly, Pearce did the most unpolitic of things a GB manager can do: he didn't pick a single player from Scotland or Northern Ireland. A large majority of his squad are English, although the Welsh are also disproportionately represented.
Pearce has defended his decisions on the grounds that the game is no place for sentiment. Beckham - whose omission has attracted most controversy - may have worked tirelessly to help London win the right to host these Games, but only form on the pitch can justify a place in the GB squad
What utter rubbish. The idea that sport and sentiment don't mix is as laughable as it is wilfully ignorant. Sport is best when it is sentimental. Pearce should know this more than most - his neck-bulging celebration after scoring a penalty for England at Euro 1996 is one of the most emotional scenes of recent football history.
Besides, Pearce's choices are full of sentiment, only of a different kind. It is the sentiment of the macho, Mr Football traditionalism Pearce does so much to embody. Giggs has been picked so Pearce can show how much he respects the achievements of his long career - he no longer warrants a place on form alone.
A gold medal might change things. Managers can be forgiven their idiosyncracies as long as they are winning. But on the evidence of the Brazil game this is looking a remote possibility. Defensive lapses - including from the experienced Richards - accompanied both of Brazil's goals, in a first half when GB looked far out of their depth.
Going forward, Craig Bellamy looked the most prominent threat, but there was very little penetration from Daniel Sturridge, Scott Sinclair, Tom Cleverly or Giggs. GB exerted more pressure in the seond half as the Brazil players restricted their exertions to walking pace. The attacking left-back Danny Rose had some decent touches, although without really suggesting an end product would be delivered. The injured Gareth Bale seemed sorely missed.
Overall, GB played like this was a pre-season game rather than preparation for the Olympics - this may well be how this team full of Premier League actually view the tournmanent. Of course, they were facing some very fierce opposition in Brazil, the outstanding Neymar in particular. But such was the gulf in class, and so poor the coordination between GB's players, that even our first round opponents Senegal and the United Arab Emirates would have been encouraged.
And if it is Team GB's fate to depart early from its first Olympic football competition for several decades, then surely we should have done so being led by Beckham, who did so much to make it all possible, and certainly with representatives from across the UK.
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