Team GB's men's football team have improved markedly in each of the first three games of their reincarnation. Although the opposition faced has been progressively weaker every time, the growing understanding among Team GB players has been very encouraging. After last night's match against the United Arab Emirates, they also have their first win.
That is a testament to manager Stuart Pearce. Although I have criticised him heavily for his squad selection, his qualities as a coach and man-manager have never been in doubt. Most evident has been the emergence of Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Tom Cleverley - who started together for the first time against the UAE - as GB's midfield trio. They have shown the control in possession that British teams - think England at Euro 2012 - are supposed to lack.
Further improvement will be needed, however, if GB are going to progress from their group. Senegal's shock victory against group favourites Uruguay - as well as their late equaliser against GB - means that qualifying for the quarter-finals is going to be more difficult than first assumed. GB now need at least a point against Uruguay themselves.
Several issues need to be addressed. The most pressing is up front. Daniel Sturridge began the competition as GB's first-choice centre forward, but looked desperately out of sorts against Brazil and Senegal. Although this might be a result of suffering meningitis shortly before the tournament, he was also poor throughout the latter half of last season for Chelsea - he scored only two goals after Christmas.
It was not a surprise to see Marvin Sordell starting ahead Sturridge against UAE. When Sturridge came on in the second half - quite mysteriously, given Sordell's strong performance - it looked like more of the same. The outstanding Craig Bellamy created several excellent chances following raids down the left, which were crying out to be finished by a poacher in the box - Sturridge never got close. But then he went and scored a peach of a goal to make it 3-1 - like Roberto Di Matteo at Stamford Bridge, Pearce must be frustrated that he doesn't do this more often.
Ryan Giggs presents an even bigger headache - Pearce's captain simply isn't performing well enough. Despite scoring against UAE, Giggs has shown little threat going forward. For instance, while Senegal's Saliou Ciss was to blame for his horrendous challenge on Bellamy, it was a mistimed pass from Giggs that forced his fellow Welshman into a position where Ciss could get to him.
Giggs has looked most dangerous from set pieces - his free kick led to Bellamy's goal against Senegal. But if that justifies his inclusion in the squad, then surely David Beckham would have been a much better choice. As a ball-playing holding midfielder, it is hard to see what Giggs brings to the team that Michael Carrick or even Charlie Adam would not have offered.
The smart money would be on Pearce starting with Giggs and Sturridge in our final group game against Uruguay against Cardiff. Both will need to manage the kind of sustained improvement their teammates have shown if our medal hopes are to stay alive.
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more