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Thanks but no thanks

Britain’s Olympic coach, Stuart Pearce, has been explaining his decision to leave David Beckham out of the Team GB side.

Beckham, who was credited with helping bring the Olympics to London, was a surprise omission when Pearce named his 23-man provisional squad last week. Pearce, though, claims he made his decision based purely on footballing reasons.

“When I was given the opportunity to manage this team I looked on form, fitness, availability. In that respect I deemed this was the best squad available to take this tournament on. I’ve got a vast amount of respect for David and what he has done in bringing the Olympics to these shores,” said Pearce.

“I have to be comfortable that I’ve made decisions on footballing grounds alone. Not on personality, or who I like as individuals. This is the strongest squad that’s available to me to select.”

“In regard to ticket sales or merchandising or whatever, I’m a football man. I have to back my opinion. I feel very sorry for David, I know how much it meant to him. I do understand that.”

Pearce also revealed that he intends to adopt the Spanish template for his youthful side. Included in the 18-man squad are four players from Swansea, a side that garnered a reputation last season as a team adept at retaining possession.

“Swansea play out from the back and we have a lot of good football technicians in this squad,” said Pearce.

“The likes of Xavi and Andres ­Iniesta have been playing together for years so it will take time for ­British football to reach that level.

“But after this tournament there will be 18 individuals who have pushed their experience levels that little bit further against some of the top opposition in the world.”

Barcelona estimate that it takes 8000 hours of practice to attain the technique required to play their style of possession football. I’m not sure what Pearce can achieve in a fortnight at the Olympics, but he can’t do any harm I suppose.

Nice guys come first

Iker Casillas, or Saint Iker as he’s known in Spain, cemented his reputation as one of football’s good guys towards the end of Sunday’s Euro 2012 final, when he called for the game to be ended early to avoid humiliating opponents Italy.

The Spain skipper called to the referee’s assistant and said, “Respect for the rival.” “Respect for Italia,” he repeated. He then said the score to make his point that enough was enough and that ten-men Italy should be spared further punishment.

Turkey shoot

Aziz Yildirim, the president of Fenerbahce has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for match-fixing.

Yildirim was convicted of fixing six matches and offering payments to players or club officials, although he insists he is being used as a scapegoat in the broader corruption scandal sweeping Turkish football.

“They are trying to use Fenerbahce to clean the dirt in the matches. I say now as I did at the start: even if we are on the gallows, our last word is Fenerbahce,” Yildirim said before the verdict was announced.

Fortunately for Yildirim, he spent a few months in jail awaiting trial and as a result of the quirks of the Turkish justice system, the rest of his sentence has been commuted. That’s right, a six-year sentence reduced to a few months behind bars. Inevitably, there have been whispers of political interference and also suggestions that the reduced sentence is both a compromise, deemed to satisfy those who believe justice should seen to be done, and those who think Yildirim really is no more than a scapegoat. Given the partisan nature of Turkish football, perhaps a compromise of this sort is the best we can expect.

Yildirim was also fined 1.3 million lira ($458,000) and was banned from club management and watching matches. Other Fenerbahce executives were also convicted, as were a former coach and executive from rival Istanbul club Besiktas.

Fenerbahce were banned from the Champions League last season, but UEFA said last week that they would be eligible to participate in next season’s competition, pending a final decision by the their disciplinary board.

Staying put

New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that he has not intention of selling Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez.

The controversial forward, who last season served an eight-match ban after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, has been linked with a move to Juventus.

“I’ve had a brilliant chat with Luis. He’s really looking forward to being here,” said Rodgers.

“We are obviously hoping we can get him on to another new contract. He’s really looking forward to the new season.”

As for his plans for the forthcoming season, Rodgers said that he will look to strengthen, but did not anticipate making wholesale changes.

“I’m looking forward to bringing in three or four players that can really affect the group. The reality is there are very few players who can come and make a difference to Liverpool.”

No, with that 8th place last season they really did hit a glass ceiling. Not much room for improvement there.

Here comes the Sammer

Bayern Munich have appointed Matthias Sammer as their sporting director to replace the sacked Christian Nerlinger.

Sammer recently extended his contract as director of the German football federation (DFB) until 2016, but the president, Wolfgang Niersbach, said the federation decided to let him go “with a heavy heart”.

Nerlinger, who had been appointed to replace former manager Uli Hoeness three years ago, had been under fire for a number of months, not least as a result of the club failing to win any silverware for the past two seasons.

“On behalf of the club I wish to thank Christian Nerlinger for his work in the last four years at Bayern. I really hope that our good personal relationship continues,” Uli Hoeness, now the club’s president, said.

The appointment of Sammer, himself a qualified coach, also puts pressure on coach Jupp Heynckes, whose role has come under scrutiny following another trophy-free season. In 2002 Sammer guided Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title. He also had a spell at another of his former clubs, Stuttgart.

Wenger says non

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has turned down the opportunity to coach the French national team following Laurent Blanc’s resignation.

According to a report on L’Equipe’s website, Wenger was approached by French Football Federation president, Noel Le Graet, but declined the offer as he still has two years to run on his contract at the Emirates.

“There are a lot of names,” Wenger told Telefoot. “But me, I will be very busy with Arsenal where my contract still runs for two years.”

Wenger’s announcement has coincided with the departure from Marseille of Didier Deschamps, and appears to open the door for the former World Cup winner to succeed his former team-mate, Blanc.

Well, in a perfect world that would be the case, but reports emanating from France indicate that Deschamps is in two minds whether to take the job. It remains a prestigious appointment, but as recent tournaments have demonstrated, it brings with it a fair amount of baggage.

Deschamps has been given until the end of the week to make his decision.

Trouble and strife

The French Football Federation has opened disciplinary proceedings 
against players Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jeremy Menez and Yann M’vila 
for misbehaving at Euro 2012, the FFF said today.

“Hatem Ben Arfa, Yann Mvila, Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez are summoned to appear before the disciplinary committee,” Noel Le Graet told a news conference.

Nasri insulted a reporter after the 2-0 quarter-final defeat by eventual champions Spain while Menez verbally abused captain Hugo Lloris.

Ben Arfa was involved in a dressing-room argument with Blanc and M’vila did not shake the coach’s hand when he was replaced by Olivier Giroud against Spain.

Le Graet also announced that the players’ Euro 2012 bonuses had been frozen.

He said: “I don’t like to punish, by nature. I don’t like to deliver a hasty opinion. But our players should be punished or sanctioned.”

“I don’t want them thinking they are victims. They are not.”

Just so long as you don’t pre-judge them.

Kerzhakov spots an open goal

Russian striker, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, whose profligacy at Euro 2012 resulted in the Guardian newspaper coining a new term “to kerzhakov” – which means to miss from a perfect position, has responded to the jibe, by criticising the paucity of the English language.

When asked whether he knows that he inspired the appearance of a new word, Kerzhakov said: Yes, I’ve heard something about it.”

“What can I say if they have a lack of words in their vocabulary?” he told Zenit Saint Petersburg’s official website. “I can also add that it doesn’t trouble me at all. That’s what the papers are for. I don’t compare myself to anybody, but I saw Cristiano Ronaldo miss seven times in his last game – and no new verb has appeared.”

The 29-year-old stressed that he doesn’t think he played that badly in Euro 2012 as he was “doing his best” to help the team.

“I don’t know. It happened so that I didn’t score,” the striker said. “I had a couple of good chances with the Czechs, but there were plenty of goals in that one without me (4-1). As for the rest of the games, I don’t think I missed 100 per cent opportunities. This is football.”

There must be other players at Euro 2012 whose performances warrant their names being used as verbs. “To Given” to give a goal away; “To Balotelli” to exasperate your team-mates; “to Rooney” to fail to deliver on the international stage; “to Nasri” to walk around like a wet weekend; “to Robben” to do the same thing over and over again, with the same results.

Russian roulette

Sticking with Russia, or the the republic of Dagestan, to be more precise, and the news that Anzhi Makhachkala will not be allowed to play their Europa League matches at their home ground in the Caucasus republic, because of fears over safety.

“In regards to this, Anzhi FC management is preparing a proposal about a reserve stadium on Russian Federation territory that complies with all UEFA’s demands, where the team will host their opponents in UEFA Europa League 2012/2013,” read a statement on the club’s website.

The club will send their proposals to UEFA for their agreement. At the moment four venues are considered: Arena Khimki and Saturn stadium in Moscow region, Spartak stadium in Vladikavkaz and Kuban’s stadium in Krasnodar, All these grounds have hosted Europa League games before and should be acceptable to UEFA.

Several deadly attacks have taken place in Dagestan in the last few years. As recently as May 14 people were killed and 122 wounded in suicide blasts in Makhachkala.

Earning his Spurs

Just four months after being fired by Chelsea, Andre Villas-Boas has sealed his return to the Premier League by taking charge at Tottenham.

The Portuguese, one of European football’s bright young managerial things until he came face to face with a Chelsea old guard unwilling to adapt to his methods, gets a second bite at the cherry in England. His reputation may have been sullied by his Stamford Bridge experience, but at the age of 34, he is young enough to rebuild it, and Tottenham, a club permanently on the cusp of ‘going places’, might well benefit from his youthful exuberance.

“He has an outstanding reputation for his technical knowledge of the game and for creating well-organised teams capable of playing football in an attractive and attacking style,” Spurs chairman Daniel Levy told the club’s website.

“Andre shares our long-term ambitions and ethos of developing players and nurturing young talent, and he will be able to do so now at a new world-class training centre.”

Unfortunately for Villas-Boas, although Spurs do have a reputation for ‘developing players and nurturing young talent’, they also have a reputation for selling them on at a profit.

“For me, this is one of the most exciting coaching positions in the Premier League,” Villas-Boas said.

“This is a squad any coach would love to work with. Together I believe we can bring success in the seasons ahead.”

The new manager’s first task will be to persuade Luka Modric to resist the temptations of Real Madrid.

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