Stuart Pearce was adamant from the start that he wanted to be his own man when selecting his Team GB squad for London 2012. But, his decision to overlook David Beckham for the Olympic football team is idiotic, even by his own standards.
The Football Association's judgment to allow Pearce a free hand when selecting 18 participating players from the home nations - 13 English and five Welsh - has sensationally backfired, following the former England captain's exclusion.
After everything Beckham has done for this country in the build-up to this summer's Games; from his influential lobbying during the Olympic bid, to his presence as the primary torch-bearer, the assumption was that Pearce would have read the script, without it needing to be spelled out to him.
The La Galaxy star's omission is now an understandable source of tension between the FA, the British Olympic Association and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who had all hoped to cash in on Beckham's celebrity and profile, as well as reward him for helping win the bid for London 2012.
Pearce, though, was unapologetic in his staunch defence of the decision to disregard the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan midfielder, unsentimentally insisting Beckham's recent form did not merit a place in the first British squad to enter the Games since 1960.
The 38-year-old was in contention for one of three over-age slots in the under-23 squad, but lost out to former Old Trafford teammate Ryan Giggs - who is set to captain the Team GB side - Liverpool forward Craig Bellamy, and Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
"My starting point with all the players was that there were no guarantees," explained Pearce. "I'm more than happy with the three over-age selections I've picked and I think they stand up to any scrutiny because of the seasons they've had in the Premier League.
"You have to make big calls and whilst I would say David not being in the squad is a biggish call, from the offset I was only ever going to pick on what I see with my own eyes in regard to footballing reasons.
"Right through this process I have had carte blanche to pick whatever players I regard as best. Form plays a big part and I don't think there is a manager around who picks on sentiment."
He added: "We mustn't be sidetracked into thinking that David is a stand-alone professional who is desperate to play in the Olympics above anyone else who is on this sheet of paper. That isn't the case. He has a burning ambition, but along with 18 other players."
Any hope that Beckham could still play some part in the Games has been all but extinguished, after Pearce ruled out the possibility he could be handed a role within Team GB's coaching set-up, adding that it made no sense whatsoever to place an over-age player on the four-strong standby list, either.
"We only have seven passes for that," he continued. "We have no passes for anyone else. The players have to be prepared to come through the door on form alone and that happens to be the case with staffing too. They have their role to play.
"[And] unless an overage player gets injured, I can't bring another one in. More sense might be to make all four standby players underage so that we will have more of an option."
Commercially, the omission of the world's most famous footballer makes no sense at all. And it's a decision that can only prove to be politically futile, given the poor treatment of one of England's most revered sporting stars, and the strain on the relationship between the FA, BOA and LOCOG.
'Footballing reasons' seems to be a term that is increasingly used to justify a controversial ruling or selection - a euphemism to mask a negative outcome. Beckham deserves his Olympic swansong. Pearce shouldn’t deny him that.
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