Pearce picked to manage GB Olympic team


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The Independent Football

Stuart Pearce has been chosen by the Football Association to manage the Great Britain Olympic football team at the London Games next year, ahead of the likes of Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson.

The FA general secretary, Alex Horne, said yesterday that it "would be logical" for Pearce to take charge of what will be an Under-23 side, with the addition of three over-aged players, but which still looks set to be boycotted by the FA's counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Come next season the fixtures of the England Under-21 team, of which Pearce is the full-time coach, will be suspended in order that the Olympic team can use those international dates to play games to prepare for the following summer's tournament.

The 2012 London Games team will be the first that has played at an Olympics under the Great Britain flag since 1972 and is expected to have a high profile. Sir Alex Ferguson was originally mentioned as a potential manager and other top English coaches such as Redknapp and Hodgson have also been mentioned.

However, Horne said yesterday that the FA wants the role to be full-time from this summer and said that it made sense for Pearce to take the job, given that there will effectively be no England Under-21 team until the following August.

Pearce has been the FA's pet coaching project since he was appointed Under-21s manager in 2007. He has been taken on to Fabio Capello's coaching staff when his responsibilities with the Under-21s have allowed it. He was alongside England's Italian manager in South Africa last summer.

The FA has been impressed with his work in general with the Under-21s who, under Pearce, have qualified for their third consecutive European Championship this summer in Denmark. There were reservations, however, about his behaviour at the most recent tournament in 2009 when he appeared to lose his temper on the touchline during England's defeat to Germany in the final.

The FA is under pressure from the British Olympic Association to bring its Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts on board. They have proved resistant because of fears that throwing in their lot under a British banner would lead to a loss of their historical independence in the eyes of world football's governing body, Fifa.

The relaunch of friendlies with the home nations, which accompanied the FA's new three-and-a-half year sponsorship deal with Vauxhall announced yesterday, is another way in which the English FA is trying to persuade the other nations to come on board with the British Olympic team.

Asked whether Pearce would be the 2012 manager by default, Horne said, "Stuart is an employee of the association and the current Under-21 manager... I think it would be very logical [for him to be the Olympics team manager]."

It is the English FA's prerogative, of all the home nations, to select the manager and Horne said that he was working to bring the other home nations into the Great Britain fold. It is understood that they are unlikely to change their minds, despite assurances from Fifa that participating would not change their status.

That would mean the likes of Wales' Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey would be prevented from playing. Horne said: "There are individual player issues and there are home nation sensitivities... We need an appropriate selection policy that cannot be prejudicial to individual athletes."

Horne added that he expected to have appointed the second young English coach to Capello's staff by the end of next month. The Vauxhall sponsorship deal is thought to be worth more than £5m a year and was, Horne said, worth more than was offered by previous sponsors Nationwide to renew their contract.