Team GB - Was it worth it?
As the curtain falls on what has been a glorious Olympic Games in London, it is time to assess Team GB’s performance in both football competitions.
In my view, the men flopped and the women met expectations and changed the face of their game forever.
While athletics, cycling and rowing are among the sports to have taken the main Team GB headlines at these Olympics, does football deserve a mention in the final say?
The men: A waste of time
Deep down, I always believed that the Team GB men’s football squad weren’t going to deliver a medal and ultimately, they lived up to the country’s expectations; failing miserably.
Aside from Craig Bellamy, Neil Taylor, Jack Butland and Joe Allen, nobody came out of the experiment of having a Team GB football team with any reputation gained or creditable notice.
Steven Caulker showed naivety on the top stage, which suggests that Tottenham should be looking at alternative options at the back after Ledley King’s retirement.
He was given the captain's armband but Ryan Giggs showed signs of his age catching up with him. He has been such a great servant for the game and deserved his place in the squad but younger talent is now required at Manchester United.
Stuart Pearce believed the goals would come from Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge did net twice but lacked the confidence of a natural goalscoring forward, like an Aguero, Rooney or Van Persie.
His selection of Marvin Sordell was an utter waste of a pick, Scott Sinclair was totally marginalised and as for James Tomkins, I’m out of words to describe his hideous performances.
While Giggs and Bellamy merited selection as overage players, Micah Richards did not. I always believed that he should have made the Euro 2012 squad but his anger at not being selected for that might have been more evident here, than was apparent on the field.
The cynics will say why was David Beckham not selected? Football isn’t a sentimental game but I do feel that had Beckham just been part of the squad, it would have given the football competition a huge lift.
Although I lost total respect for Gareth Bale’s non-selection due to ‘injury', some could probably see why now he decided to play for Spurs on their American tour. Again, had he been man enough to play, it would have helped the team’s chances a lot.
Pearce himself hasn’t done many favours. His management career doesn’t have many highlights. He struggled at Manchester City, underachieved with the Under 21’s and done very little in this tournament, to put himself in the window for higher reputation jobs.
It is understandable why the fans didn’t get behind the team so much, I think they were just fed up and bored of players not playing for the cause. At times, the atmosphere seemed more akin to a quiet day on the high street, not a football match.
The women: Proud of their achievements
It was a completely different story for the women’s football team. Despite a same stage exit, they left the tournament gutted but proud of their achievements.
Manager Hope Powell managed to get the squad to gel fully and enjoy the experience of playing at the Olympics, something Pearce simply couldn’t manage with his overpaid ‘superstars.’
Although the occasion might have got to some of them in the quarter-final exit to Canada, the atmosphere for all the games was fantastic.
To see 70,000 turn up at Wembley to beat Brazil, will be one of the overall highlights of these games.
On her blog for the Arsenal website, left back Steph Houghton said: “In a tournament like this, you have massive highs and massive lows.
“We hope that we have inspired a generation who want to play and watch women’s football more often.
“It was even better than we expected because every day there was something new. I can’t really put into words how good it was – it was just the best time of my life and something I will never forget.”
Houghton was the star of the side and in my eyes, one of the unsung heroes of these Olympics.
She scored in every group game, attacked with such passion and did a superb defending job too in her natural position.
She is the new golden girl of women’s football and she had great support from the likes of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, Captain Casey Stoney and midfielders, Karen Carney and Jill Scott.
Before this tournament, I wasn’t the biggest advocate of women’s football myself but I really got into it and enjoyed every game involving the team, whereas the men, sometimes it felt like watching paint dry would have been more fun.
Spirits have risen, the profile of the game has increased and I hope this has fully ‘inspired a generation.’ I wonder what TalkSport presenters, Richard Keys and Andy Gray now think of women in football?
Although the final result was slightly disappointing, considering the maximum points in the group stages, Powell and her side have nothing to be ashamed of. They should be proud of themselves and I know most supporters were.
The final verdict
The Olympics is all about taking part, competing and doing your best.
I’m afraid the men’s team failed miserably and missed a great opportunity, especially when you think of Spain and Uruguay’s early eliminations.
It was a sorry excuse for a football team. As far as I’m concerned, don’t bother with Rio 2016, it just isn’t worth it.
On the other hand, I hope that efforts are made for a Team GB’s women side in the next Olympics in Rio.
It would be easier to get players interested to play, it would be exciting to see how the women’s game develops and there would be realistic hopes of a medal.
You have to show passion in these big events and the women, certainly did that throughout.
So, it’s a case of Team GB’s women’s squad: Hold your heads high and Team GB’s men’s squad: Hang your heads in shame.
By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88
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