Ready as they will ever be?

So after months of suspense as to who will be lining up in July to represent Team Great Britain in the Olympic Football tournament, the main focus of the “big reveal” a few weeks ago wasn’t on who had been included, rather who wasn’t. After Team GB Media Manager Andy Hunt read out the names of those selected on last Monday at Wembley Stadium, the floor was opened up to questions. Unsurprisingly, the first few were all about the exclusion of David Beckham, rather than any other subject. Betting companies like bwin had stopped taking bets on the inclusion of Golden Balls.

Team GB manager Stuart Pearce defended his decision immediately by saying it was down to “footballing reasons”. And so it should be – he should have picked a squad that is the best in his opinion based on the players at his disposal. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory with a follow up answer as to why there was a complete absence of Scottish and Irish players:-

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I bet we are all excited now!

“Ladies and Gentlemen.  Let me introduce to you our special guests who will be making the draw today….Ex-Welsh international and the most annoying man on the TV/Radio – Robbie Savage.  Next, another Premier League “battler”,  I give you Kevin Gallagher.  And finally, a very special guest.  World Cup winner, twice FIFA Golden Boot Winner.  A man who has played for the best teams in Spain and Italy.  Fat Ronaldo.”

Not only is the whole idea of playing the Olympic football in cities with nothing to do with the games, let alone different countries quite bizarre, but was that the strangest line up you have ever seen at one of these events.  Quite what Ronaldo thought of it all I do not know.  Did he, for just one spilt second think Savage was a girl and was going to invite him to one of his “parties”?  And Gallagher?  Was he simply called up at the last-minute because someone glamorous dropped out?

But for all the *cough* razzmataz, the draw brought home the reality that we will be seeming lots of games during the competition in half empty (at best) stadiums.  I may ultimately be wrong, but with hundreds of thousands of tickets still unsold for the event I think the brain wave of taking the Olympics to other parts of the British Isle will end in embarrassment for the LOGOC. Continue reading

The club v country row takes a new twist with Team GB

Thomas Rooney takes another look at the conflicting loyalties issue that bus many a player.

The age old club versus country row has taken a back seat of late. No managers have complained of the bum deal the club receive as their prize assets swan off around the world for a meaningless friendly. Instead the argument has been replaced by a new beast; governing body v countries.

This summer promises to be a bumper year for live sports betting pundits, with the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine taking place just before the Olympics in London gets underway, with football taking a more prominent role than most years thanks to the inclusion of a Team GB squad.

Although not exactly united – the governing bodies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are still protesting at the team’s existence – Team GB has been rubberstamped and is ready to roll, although it has already started to ruffle a few feathers among club managers as well as officials from football associations from all four corners of the British Isles.

Team GB boss Stuart Pearce has reportedly contacted over 200 players about represented Britain at the Olympics, while David Beckham, who has already thrown his hat into the ring for the skipper’s job, is rumoured to have had a clause written into his new L.A Galaxy contract that allows his to leave mid M.L.S season to take part in the London games.

There was something telling about Gareth Bale’s quoted when asked about Team GB and his potential participation.

When asked about playing for Britain at the Olympics, he simply responded: “As long as all parties are happy I don’t see any reason why not”.

The pressure being placed on players by the respective football associations of the countries outside of England is clear to see. Bale has been pictured in a Team GB shirt already but makes it clear there is a caveat to his participation – that the Welsh F.A are happy with it.

Scotland have taken perhaps the most aggressive stance, alluring to the fact that any of their players who accept the call could be omitted from future Scotland squads.

In a strange reversal, clubs that had previously maintained a frosty relationship with the respective F.A’s about releasing their players for international duty have been more than happy to offer their players forward for the Olympics.

West Ham and Aston Villa are just two clubs that have so far revealed they have had players contacted about representing Team GB  for the summer tournament, with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce saying he would be more than happy to release his players for the tournament, while Villa boss Alex McLeish says he has no problems with it.

Pearce says he has been ‘saddened’ by the farce so far that the governing bodies have contributed towards. The idea of unification between the home nation sides is something instantly appealing to fans – just glance at their rugby playing counterparts (the British and Irish Lions) for the type of spectacle a team from the British Isles can produce. It is unfortunate then, that player could potentially be reprimanded for taking part in what should be a spectacle. Unfortunately the row shows no sign of ending soon