So Palace’s Zaha Is Better Than Beckham?

Zaha is better than Beckham, and is going for gold at the Olympic Games.

It’s official, Zaha is better than Beckham! Well, this is what I was going to write if Stuart Pearce had included him in the Olympics squad.(at the time of writing both Zaha and Beckham are rumoured to be on the ‘backup list’.)

Golden Balls announced his own failure to make the Olympic team last week, usurping the official announcement on 1st July. I am a massive David Beckham fan, but was it really necessary to make it all about him, and gazump the announcement of the men’s team this week, and the ladies last week?

The cynic in me comes to two conclusions:

1. Either Beckham’s PR manager was working overtime, ringing around everyone from Jack Rodwell to Robbie Savage asking for support;

2. or Seb Coe is a genius in whipping up interest in an Olympic competition which the majority of Great Britain doesn’t give a monkey’s about (with the exception of Beckham, Bale, Pearce and a selection of officials from ticket sellers to sponsors).

It does beggar the question, what is the point of Olympics Football?

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” , or “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” for those of you that didn’t go to grammar school. I’m confident that there are several GB players that can surpass Becks in all three of those categories! Having tweeted last week, questioning the outcry over Beckham’s exclusion, and pedantically asking if they’ll be tears if Seb Coe is left out of the 1500m, it was pointed out to me that Coe hasn’t run for a long time. But Beckham hasn’t played elite football for a long time either!

For me the Olympics should be the pinnacle of the sport that is involved, and for the vast majority of sports, London 2012 will be the biggest stage since Beijing in 2008. Football however has the World Cup, and it really doesn’t need the Olympics does it?

In fact the Men’s Olympic Football isn’t even an elite tournament with the under-23 restriction and 3 ‘over-aged’/over the hill players, basically ensuring there are no players in their prime competing.

I know that other countries such as Nigeria and Argentina have used the Olympics as a springboard for future success at elite level, but with our weird English/Welsh hybrid team, will this really work for Team GB?

With Wilfred Zaha included in Stuart Pearce’s shortlisted squad of 35, and potentially on stand-by for the final 18, it’s another feather in the cap for Palace’s famous academy, even if he didn’t make the cut. It’s a shame that Nigeria haven’t qualified as Victor Moses could have featured. There was a slim chance that Nathaniel Clyne could have been included, and Antonio Pedroza could have been involved through his Mexican heritage too.

Zaha’s inclusion would have certainly meant more interest in the tournament for Palace fans, myself included. Like Beckham, Zaha doesn’t have the benefit of playing at the highest level at the moment, but if the Olympics is going to be treated as aid to developing young talent, then it would have been a great opportunity for the player. He broke into the England under-21 squad towards the back end of the season, and this was another opportunity to add to his experience.

With Senegal and Uruguay in the GB’s group, he would have been able to pit himself against some talented and developing teams, who might also be able to match him for flair. Not sure what sort of opposition UAE will present, but they are historically much weak at senior level.

It’s a shame Pearce did not pick him. Perhaps the Olympics came a year too early for Wilf. At least Palace can claim to have aided the development of one of those selected. Scott Sinclair made 6 appearance on loan from Chelsea in 2008, scoring 2 goals. In fairness, he’s not a dissimilar player to Wilf, but ahead in the development curve and age.

So Beckham is consigned to history, having made a significant impact on England’s football heritage. If Wilfred Zaha can have half the impact that Becks has done on the global stage, he’ll have done alright. But for now, Wilf will have to make do with destroying the Championship and Manchester United full backs instead.

Oh, and Psycho, if you’re reading this, “He’s just too good for you…”

For anyone that’s interested, check which countries will be playing the Euro2012-format here: http://www.london2012.com/news/articles/london-2012-olympic-football-tournament-draw-made.html

 


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