Team GB can be stuff of fantasy

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The task of a manager prior to any major tournament is rarely an enviable one, as they attempt to select a squad most capable of representing their country to distinction.

Criticism comes with the territory as a manager whittles down the names on his list into one final squad, and Roy Hodgson felt the full brunt of that when he revealed his picks for Euro 2012.

Yet, as Stuart Pearce makes final preparations to announce the squad that will compete under the Union Flag this summer, his brief is surely one that would transform any international manager into the proverbial green-eyed monster.

Firstly, the Great Britain football team are not burdened by a weight of expectation, but almost to the contrary, with fans appearing either nonplussed or genuinely excited at the prospect of seeing a conglomerate side for perhaps the only time ever.

Although Pearce will certainly argue conversely, winning gold at Wembley stadium is a thought not oft contemplated, while a Team GB failure will represent no great catastrophe.

Should Great Britain fail to progress from the group stages of the competition, no tears will be shed, no inquests will be held and no jobs will be lost. Pearce and his players are immune to any post-Games retribution.

How often can a manager be afforded such a privilege, particularly given the tournament in question will take place on such familiar soil?

However, the most intriguing aspect of Pearce's job remains his squad selection, and once navigating the specific age regulations, the England under-21 coach has an assignment not too dissimilar to fantasy football.

It will be the three players that make up the 'over age' places that will garner the most attention when the squad is announced, and Pearce can be forgiven for allowing sentimentally rather than practicality to cloud his thought process.

Is it realistic to expect that, aged 38 and 37 respectively, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham have the required fitness levels to compete sufficiently in tournament football? Age aside, the former has never featured in an international tournament, while the latter has not done so for six years.

Yet Giggs and Beckham could be supremely effective in a supposed second rate competition, and the opportunity for Pearce to name two icons in his squad is surely one he will be unable to refuse.

Giggs, for his part, is intent on playing alongside his former teammate once again, even if the Manchester United veteran does have mild fears regarding the frequency of contribution their ageing bodies can provide.

"Becks is obviously a friend," Giggs explained. "And he remains a great player. If [featuring in the GB side together] was to be, it'd be great.

"I started my playing career with Becks in the [United] youth team. Twenty years later, to be still doing that would be great."

He added: "I don't think it'll be like 20 years ago when we were both up and down.

"We might be able to get up but we won't be able to get back down again."

Sir Alex Ferguson remains the only manager to have been able to select both Giggs and Beckham in the same team, and the fact now Pearce can do the same really is the stuff of fantasy.

The prospect of Giggs and Beckham operating in tandem once more was one related only to testimonial matches, but given the insignificance of the Olympic football tournament, as far as Britain is concerned, will soon become a reality.

Rarely has the process of squad selection for a major tournament meant so little, and being relatively unshackled must seem such a novelty for the Team GB manager.

Pearce can live safe in the knowledge that he is able to indulge in some real life fantasy football - the repercussions of which will not see him forced to manage behind a keyboard in future.

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