Olympic GB Football Team heading for disaster
Stuart Pearce didn't even make the best of a bad situation when picking a sub-par group to challenge for the olympic title on home soil.
After decades of campaigning, we finally had the chance to put together an indomitable force. Though Great Britain hasn't fielded a team since the 1960s, how sorely England has been lacking people in positions that the Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish could have filled with ease. Since the mid-90s, the often vacant left-midfield position has been staring Ryan Giggs in the face, and was replaced by Gareth Bale as his successor.
But then came the revelation that those competent enough to play in the Euros were ineligible to play in the Olympic team. Well, never mind, we still have a lot of players around. Rio Ferdinand wasn't picked, after all, and Jamie Carragher would be handy. Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy are great players, and Adam Johnson, Bobby Zamora and another load of over-23s could still play for a world-class England side, so they can bolster the numbers, right?
No. Stuart Pearce's team looks like this. J Allen (Swansea), R Bertrand (Chelsea), J Butland (Birmingham), S Caulker (Tottenham), T Cleverley (Manchester United), J Cork (Southampton), C Dawson (West Brom), A Ramsey (Arsenal), D Rose (Tottenham), S Sinclair (Swansea), M Sordell (Bolton), J Steele (Middlesbrough), D Sturridge (Chelsea), N Taylor (Swansea), J Tomkins (West Ham), C Bellamy (Liverpool), R Giggs (Manchester United), M Richards (Manchester City).
Sure, Richards and Bellamy are good players, but many fans wouldn't have included any of the over-23s in the squad. David Beckham, had he played in Europe, might have been a good option, but sadly has been out of good action for too long now - and yet he still might be called up. And excluding the overage players, of 15 footballers there are 12 Englishmen and 3 Welshmen. Scotland and Northern Ireland, despite the excellence of Christophe Berra and a few other older players, were completely missed out. James Forrest would have been a good inclusion from Scotland (hailed recently by teammate Georgias Samaras), but he was ruled out through a combination of minor injury and simply not wanting to play. Oliver Norwood from the Northern Irish squad could have made the cut, but has little international experience and has been finally removed from the Manchester United backbench.
So maybe, despite its poor effort, the squad is close to being as good as it can be, including bending its own rules to allow Jack Butland the goalkeeping role. Ramsey, Sturridge, Rose and others make for a moderately good team at the very least - but don't forget that we're competing with the best teams in the world.
Uruguay are our toughest opponents in the group stage, having not lost a match since May last year (against Germany), and progressing could lead us to face Spain or Brazil, and both teams have taken things a little more seriously than us. Spain's squad includes two players that bagged goals in the Euro 2012 final - Juan Mata and Jordi Alba - and are likely to impress, whilst Brazil see players like Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Neymar, Pato, Marcelo and others looking set to win Brazil's first ever gold medal.
And with players that are virtually unrecognisable to the majority of Brits, the matches look set to be less remarkable and less watched than it could if we just took the competition seriously for once.
Oh well, at least our women's team is taking things seriously.