Why Manchester United Legend David Beckham Should Have Been Picked for Team GB
Stuart Pearce has made a catastrophic error in omitting David Beckham from Team GB.
No current performing athlete has done more for the London Olympics than David Beckham. And yet he doesn't even find himself in the team.
If you cut him open he bleeds England, but he is one of those human beings who help make Britain Great. He is one of the finest ambassadors this country has ever produced.
Stuart Pearce is a proud and stubborn man, who was one of Manchester City's worst managers ever. It sums up his ability that he didn't get the England job.
Frankly, Team GB is a mere consolation prize, although he is qualified by having done quite a good job as England U21 coach.
His position on Beckham can be summed up by this quote:
"In regard to ticket sales or merchandising or whatever, I'm a football man. I pick solely on footballing ability and I have to back my opinion. I feel very sorry for David; I know how much it meant to him."
However, his boss's (Andy Hunt, BOA Chief Executive) opinion is captured by this quote from the same article:
"I think I learned the same time as everybody else, by the press release. In an ideal world I would have liked to have learned earlier but in all good partnerships, and this is a partnership, sometimes things don't quite go to plan."
His comments about ticket sales are unlikely to have been well-received by Mr, Hunt either:
"There are no nationalities in my eyes, these are all Olympians now," he said. "I'm not picking on personality, I'm not picking on ticket sales and I'm certainly not picking on nationality."
"In regard to ticket sales or merchandising or whatever, I'm a football man. I pick solely on footballing ability and I have to back my opinion."
Pearce reminded us what a hard man he is when dismissing the notion of sentimentality. It is a pity he has such a short memory, as in his last game for Manchester City, after four minutes of injury time, his manager and teammates gave him the chance to score his 100th goal from a penalty.
He blew it.
Sounds familiar? He's certainly missed an opportunity here to make the football a sell-out and connect to the same part of Britain's sentimental soul that reached out to Andy Murray after his Wimbledon defeat.
Anyone who has read my articles will know I'm a footballing man and a through and through winner. So of course I'm not defending Beckham just on sentimentality. Instead, here are the 10 reasons why Pearce is fundamentally wrong.
If he has to call Beckham up as a standby, he will look very foolish.
David Beckham has played 115 times for England; the last time was in October 2009 after which injury and then Capello's short-sightedness ruled him out.
Craig Bellamy has played 69 times for Wales and Ryan Giggs 64, the last time being in 2007. Micah Richards has played 13 times for England in the last six years.
David is an excellent coach, who has spent much of his spare time over the last several years working with young players.
Of course, Ryan Giggs is idolised by young footballers, but not as much as Beckham.
To win the tournament, GB will need goals and Craig Bellamy, although 33, has pace and goal-scoring ability, but he didn't get many starts for Liverpool last season and previously City had loaned him to Cardiff City. So much for his current ability.
Ryan Giggs is a footballing genius and much the same age as Beckham. He is however still playing in the Premier League, albeit with only 25 appearances last season. Beckham has 15 starts so far in 2012 for LA Galaxy.
What David offers, however, is all-round ability. He is arguably one of the best passers of a ball the world has ever seen; he is a consummate dead-ball kicker; he scores goals; he is a playmaker and can defend.
Above all, he is a leader, in ability and in the way he plays. He would have given his last ounce of strength to drive GB to victory.
The simple fact is that GB has no chance whatsoever of wining an Olympic Gold, indeed probably any medal. Since Sir Matt Busby took them to fourth place in 1948, they have won only one match.
Uruguay have just announced that Suarez and Cavani will be their strike force. GB's will be Bellamy and Sturridge if both are fit. It is questionable if Bellamy can play 90 minutes or whether Giggs can play three games in a few days.
And if the under 23 players of GB were asked to pick between Bellamy or Beckham, who do you think they would rather have?
No doubt Mr Pearce would say "this isn't a popularity contest." No, it isn't, Stuart, especially when it comes to managers, but it is when it comes to selling tickets.
Pearce says he has watched every other match Beckham has played on DVD. So how could he miss this goal, scored only three months ago, which sums up Beckham's extraordinary ability as a match-winner?
Did Pearce watch this match against the New York Red Bulls on May 5, where Beckham drove the team from central midfield, hit five pin-point centres and three superb dead-ball kicks, as well as tackling back among the last line of defence?
Oh, and he played 95 minutes 30 seconds.
If Pearce seriously wants to win an Olympic Gold, where on earth does he thinks the goals are going to come from?
Given that you would expect Team GB to be even inferior to England in the recent Euros, there will be precious few chances and GB may have to feed off the dead-ball scraps that Beckham specialises in.
When you compare him to Ryan Giggs, while Ryan is a great dribbler, Beckham is surely the better all-round bet...especially in central midfield?
But best of all, Beckham and Giggs know each other's game.
OK, I'm not going to argue with Ryan Giggs, even as captain, if Beckham isn't in the side, but he should have been--and captain.
But do you really want Craig Bellamy, or even any of the Welsh players, in the side after this extraordinary interview? And this was more than three years ago. Their own national Board didn't.
GB will be desperately short of goal-scoring ability, especially if Daniel Sturridge doesn't recover from meningitis.
Bellamy has scored 53 goals in 186 matches in his last six seasons. For Wales, he has 19 in 69 caps.
No of course I'm not saying Beckham should be playing striker, but what about Connor Wickham or Jordan Rhodes, with Beckham hitting them with passes?
If there's one thing Beckham can do, its score from free kicks.
Against the likes of Uruguay and Brazil, we aren't going to get many chances in open play. In fact it could be embarrassing.
As the England Beckham played for showed, his set pieces can be priceless. Remember Greece....?
Here is another video that Pearce seems to have missed.
Once again, Beckham is in the 'playmaker' role, but look at the set-piece goal he creates. And his energy, all across the park.
Pearce will surely play a conventional 4-4-2, so did he consider playing Beckham alongside Cleverley in central midfield, with Tom having the more forward role?
And what about Becks pinging Scott Sinclair or Ryan Giggs with balls into space, or Danny Sturridge upfront.
Maybe Pearce has a mindset that Beckham is a winger, but wherever he plays in midfield, you can never convince me that Danny Rose, who spent last season at Bristol City, is a better player even on current form than David Beckham, for goodness sake!
I was at this match. Aaron Ramsey was awful.
OK, Jack Wilshere and one or two others were missing, but this was Ramsey's opportunity to show his potential and flexibility.
David Beckham is beyond question a great passer of the ball and wide player. For LA Galaxy, he plays much more through the middle, almost as a "quarterback."
He is the conductor of the orchestra. He can be ghosting into the penalty area one minute and clearing up in his own backyard minutes later.
He is intelligent with a great "game head." He sees the whole picture.
When I go through the squad that Pearce has picked, I cannot think of one player who can do this, although one day Tom Cleverley will.
Age and Fitness
Here's another match from the MLS on May 26. Not a great result for LA Galaxy, but Beckham again played until the end.
He may be 37, but he can still cover the ground for 90 minutes, which may not be true for either Giggs or Bellamy.
So then people say the MLS is inferior to the EPL. Of course it is, but its routinely played in hotter weather than the latter.
No one can deny Beckham's fitness, and you can bet your life he was working flat out to be in Team GB.
What About the Welsh Five?
Swansea City haven't been in the Premier League for years. Although they were many people's favourite second team for the way they played last season, they still await second season syndrome.
Gareth Bale, if he'd been fit, would have been arguably Team GB's most dangerous player. Once he wasn't, why didn't Pearce go to Beckham?
Maybe Pearce really is unsentimental, a "spoilsport."
It seems bizarre that Scotland and Northern Ireland, without any representation in Euro 2012 have no players in the squad whatsoever. And Wales were one of the nations whose FA Boards objected to participation by their nationals.
So is Pearce sticking two fingers up to everyone?
The point is that Pearce's choice of five Welsh players makes just as much a point about the paucity of English players.
It has long been said that Ryan Giggs is the only Welsh player who would get in the England team, so why is Craig Bellamy there?
And if Pearce was struggling to find English players good enough...well you know the rest...
Which still begs the question about how Danny Rose in the Championship gets in ahead of Beckham in the MLS?
David Beckham had as big an influence in us winning the 2012 Olympics as almost anyone. He is a globally recognised sportsman.
He has more outfield caps than any other player and played for Real Madrid on merit.
He and his wife Victoria have raised millions of dollars for charity all over the world. He is strongly associated with youth development.
He is also a British national treasure who, unless he carries the torch at the Opening Ceremony, will be sorely missed in all the brouhaha.
He should have been in Team GB, which means he would have walked on the track on merit as one of our top athletes of all time.
He is and will be an Ambassador for Manchester United, for England, Team GB and the British nation. After the Games, he may well be knighted by the Queen.
If he had played for the football team, the nation would have been glued to their screens, watching his every move. If Team GB had made the Final, there would have been national celebration no less than Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
That Final would have been second only to the Athletics Finals for national and indeed global appeal.
Instead, GB will finish nowhere--quarter-finals at best. Football will remain a big yawn at the Olympics unless you want to watch the Spanish, Brazilians or Uruguayans.
Opportunity missed and Pearce is too stupid or pig-headed to recognise that.
In 20 years time, David Beckham will still be a national hero and our Team GB manager? Stuart who?
In late June, more than one million Olympic football tickets remained unsold. Since then, Team GB has been announced.
If David Beckham had been in the squad, there would have been a last-minute rush, at least for the England tickets.
Potentially GB men could have played up to six matches, even if they only made the semis, with half at Wembley and the rest at Old Trafford or the Millennium Stadium.
That is up to half a million tickets.
With David Beckham in the side, you could almost guarantee a sell-out.
Will the seats be sold out for Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy? Even in Cardiff where the Welsh FA strongly objected to any players being picked?
In fact, in his pig-headed shortsightedness, Pearce, in his blind belief that a scratch team of under 23s can win a tournament where other top sides are packed with talented professionals, has shot himself in the foot.
The public is very upset.
The media doesn't get it, here or abroad, and as the tournament approaches, or especially if Team GB founders, there will be a roar of "we told you so."
It is a PR disaster, more than an opportunity missed.
The Welsh and Scots didn't want in anyhow, but Beckham is England's darling.
Pearce may say he picked the team on footballing merits, but frankly that doesn't stand up.
He may say he wants a chance of winning the competition, but we haven't a prayer. Ye Gods, look how ordinary the full England squad looked in just the Euros.
With the weather and general apathy, there is a serious risk that, outside of the athletics, cycling and swimming, the London Olympics may be a great big yawn.
The BOA must have groaned in unison when Pearce announced his squad. He says he was given carte blanche, but that is frankly naive in one particular respect.
Maybe he envies or even resents Beckham's wealth and lifestyle. Who knows?
Whatever the circumstances, it was a dangerously naive and potentially damaging decision. GB has little or no chance of winning, Stuart, so what would it have cost us to pick Beckham?
At the very least there would have been a passion and a fervour at every GB match.
I have tickets for the semi-final and the Final at Wembley. Frankly, I'm now looking forward to Uruguay, Mexico, Spain or Brazil...