x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Olympics: Lack of hype serves well for Stuart Pearce's men

Coach believes side representing hosts have benefited from public's focus on other sports ahead of quarter-final match against South Korea.

Stuart Pearce, left, the Team GB coach, is desperate for a win, more for the players than himself. Glyn Kirk / AFP
Stuart Pearce, left, the Team GB coach, is desperate for a win, more for the players than himself. Glyn Kirk / AFP

Stuart Pearce, the Great Britain coach, believes being part of the Olympics has helped his side to avoid being burdened with the sort of expectations that have hampered England at major tournaments.

Pearce was assistant to Fabio Capello, the former England manager, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when the Three Lions crumbled under the weight of expectation with several poor displays.

But Pearce is enjoying a more successful major tournament experience with Team GB, who play South Korea in the last eight at the Millennium Stadium tonight after topping Group A thanks to Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Uruguay.

And he says the sheer size of the Olympics and the number of sports taking place is benefiting his squad by allowing them to grow into the tournament without the full glare of the spotlight being upon them. "I think it has helped us," he said.

"There has been a level slant in the expectations on this team, probably the expectation should be like that with England in some ways. It's been good for us to keep our heads under the radar a bit.

"We know the magnitude of what is in front of us. We have achieved in getting out of the group what people outside our group expected of us. We would have been written off if we didn't get out of the group.

"We have a scenario now where we need to advance further. The players are excited by the challenge of it and can see the truths of the training pitch in Spain two or three weeks ago bearing fruit during matches."

If Britain were to go on and secure the gold medal, it would be the first honour of Pearce's coaching career.

The 50 year old hopes an Olympic triumph would be a big boost to his fledgling career, but was quick to add that he is motivated more by the idea of his players winning a medal than by his own aspirations.

"At this moment in time I have won nothing as a manager," he said. "I still feel as though I am a young, developing manager with a lot to learn.

"When the dust has settled on everything you look at what Sir Alex Ferguson has won, what Arsene Wenger has won, you look at their CVs. I am no different to that. I am desperate to win, maybe more so for the players than myself. I am quite unassuming when it comes to the accolades being thrown out, I am not interested in that.

"It is more for the players to step forward and if they end up with a medal in their pockets I will be delighted."

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