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Friday, 03 August 2012

Team GB: Four positives but one big negative

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Stuart Pearce's scratch squad made it through to the group stages of the Olympic football tournament by beating Uruguay on Wednesday night. It's not quite the same as watching England or Wales, but the crowds have turned out in their droves and there are certainly some positives to be taken from the exercise.

1. British players can pass the ball

Stuart Pearce's claims to the England job were somewhat dismissed, but he stacked his midfield here with players who are comfortable on the ball - and gave them licence to play with their instincts. Yes, the standard isn't World Cup level but it's been good to see Premier League players looking after the ball.

2. Farewell 4-4-2

The players have been able to play because they haven't been overrun in midfield. The manager has lined his team up 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 and his team have been able to hold on to the ball. While Pearce took some ridiculous stick for not picking Beckham he stuck to his guns and unlike Roy Hodgson he's prepared to remove the 4-4-2 comfort blanket.

3. Chris Coleman should be happy

Chris Colemen may have to follow his FA's party line but he must be secretly delighted to see Welsh players getting this kind of exposure. Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsay and Neil Taylor are all enhancing their reputations and, if he can persuade Craig Bellamy to hang around, the future of Welsh football looks bright.

4. Learning to love Craig Bellamy

For most of his career Bellamy has been a stormy petrel, viewed as mouthy and touchy with a sheen of arrogance. He famously fell out with Alan Shearer at Newcastle United, but it's worth remembering that the other modern Geordie legend Sir Bobby Robson had a lot of time for him. Sir Bobby felt the chippiness came from a desperate desire to win.

The mature Bellamy still whinges but there's a great end product there and he's really bought into this tournament. If Team GB go further, he's the key.

5. Defensive problems

For all the positives, Team GB look like an accident waiting to happen at the back. Micah Richards has again demonstrated that he has natural talent, but not the concentration to be a top class centre back. Much better as a full back but James Tomkins and Steve Caulker have also had shaky moments.

A possible semi-final with Brazil's stellar attack awaits and it's difficult to see this defence keeping a clean sheet.

Calling all Team GB fans: Do you agree with Hugh's analysis? What have you made of Stuart Pearce's side? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you. - Football News & Transfers

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Hugh Larkin



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