With Stuart Pearce naming his 18-man squad for the Olympics, the former Manchester City manager opted against picked any Scottish or Northern Irish players. One player, after an impressive Huddersfield Town campaign, can feel very hard done by the decision.
The furore surrounding Team GB began to bubble up nicely last week when it emerged that David Beckham was to miss out on a place in Stuart Pearce’s 18-man squad. Beckham had been expected to take his place in the team following his work in helping London to secure the 2012 Olympics. However, Pearce opted against including the 37-year-old, instead choosing Micah Richards, Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively.
Many have argued that the LA Galaxy midfielder should have been picked on merit, whilst others suggest it was footballing reasons that saw former Manchester United team-mate Giggs picked ahead of his former team-mate. The fact that the Welshman is still plying his trade at the highest level may have edged it for the 38-year-old. Many speculated as to who would be selected for the final 18, one that was to not include Tottenham Hotspur duo Jake Livermore and Gareth Bale, both of whom were ruled out through injury.
Nevertheless, once the announcement had been made on Monday afternoon, many were shocked to find there were to be no players from Scotland or Northern Ireland in Team GB. The former Manchester City manager, instead, called upon 13 England players and a further five from Wales. A talking point to say the least, especially with the likes of Scottish duo Matt Phillips and Barry Bannan and Northern Irish pairing Shane Ferguson and Corry Evans just four players that warranted a place in the team.
The former Manchester City manager, instead, called upon 13 England players and a further five from Wales.
However, one player above most justified their call for selection under Pearce – Jordan Rhodes. The Huddersfield Town striker enjoyed a highly prolific season for the Terriers, netting 40 goals in 45 appearances. His impressive strike rate ensured Huddersfield secured promotion to the Championship via the play-offs, Rhodes himself netting twice in the three games on the path to promotion.
At just 22 years of age, many felt he was to be a shoe-in for spot in the 18-man squad, despite his lack of experience on the international stage (Rhodes has won just one cap for Scotland). Yet, Pearce felt differently about his inclusion, selecting Chelsea front-man Daniel Sturridge and Bolton Wanderers striker Marvin Sordell.
On the other hand, selecting Liverpool’s Bellamy along with Sturridge and Sordell leaves Team GB without a natural number nine. Granted, Rhodes hasn’t netted for Scotland, but the striker ratio, Sturridge aside, isn’t that impressive from the trio. Between the three of them, they have an international return of 44 goals in 121 games, 21 of which came through the Chelsea striker.
A striker of Rhodes’ natural finishing ability could’ve been exactly what Pearce needed in his 18-man squad. Overall with Huddersfield, he has netted 71 in 122 games, a strike ratio of 58%. His qualities could have been utilised by 50-year-old, especially if they are pushing for a goal or in an encounter where chances are limited.
Overall with Huddersfield, he has netted 71 in 122 games, a strike ratio of 58%.
Yet, there are two sides to the coin with the Team GB selection. Pearce has worked with a majority of the England players whilst in charge of the Under-21 side, meaning he already has a good rapport with 13 of the 18 players. Furthermore, he understands their strengths and weaknesses of the players at this disposal, whilst they would have developed a working relationship with the English participants.
Furthermore, prior to last season, Rhodes had netted just over half of his total from last season, 23 and 22 in 09/10 and 10/11 respectively. Nevertheless, he still warrants his place in Team GB and it must’ve been hard for Pearce to have not included him with his 40 goal haul.
On top of that, the 22-year-old has more first-team experience than the likes of Danny Rose and Sordell, both of which mustered just 23 appearances between them, almost half of Rhodes’ total. Whether Pearce has been swayed by the ‘false 9’ approach of Spain this summer, it remains to be seen. However, it could come back to haunt him by not choosing an out-and-out striker for the Olympics.
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