Ferguson against playing Euros and Olympics

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson warned on Friday against letting England players appear at both Euro 2012 and next year's London Olympics, saying they needed more rest after an intense Premier League season.

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce was named on Thursday as the coach of the British team at next year's London Games and while he will select mainly Under-23 players, the rules allow for three over-age players to be included.

The English FA, operating the British team under the auspices of the British Olympic Association (BOA), said on Thursday that Pearce could pick any eligible players for his squad, and while it is doubtful that any players involved in the European Championships would also play in the Olympics, it remains a remote possibility.

The Euros run from June 8-July 1, with the Olympic football tournament beginning on July 25 and ending on August 11 and United have several England players who could conceivably be involved in both competitions, including youngsters Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and even striker Wayne Rooney.

British media widely reported Rooney, who is banned for the group stage of Euro 2012 after a red card in their final qualifier, could be involved in the Olympic team but those reports were strongly denied by the FA in a statement on Friday.

The newspaper reports were based on a loose interpretation of what Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, said on Thursday when Pearce was named as coach.

Bevington commented: "We are aware of the challenges that playing in the Euros and the Olympics would present to any player, but we are not going to lock ourselves into a situation where we say if you go to one, you can't go to another."

However, the FA moved quickly to clarify their stance.

"At no time during Thursday's media conference to announce the Team GB Olympic Coaches did The FA representatives at any stage suggest or propose the names of Wayne Rooney, any Manchester United player or Jack Wilshere as possible members in the Olympics squad," a statement said.

"Furthermore, The FA did not say players would be selected for both tournaments, but stated clearly the organisation would not be locked into a policy of ruling it out.

"We also made it very clear the need for sensible dialogue with clubs, players and representatives and that everything would be handled with common sense."

Other United players, who do not play for England, could be called up to the British Olympic team which would put a strain on United's pre-season preparations.

They include Scotland's Darren Fletcher, Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and Welsh veteran Ryan Giggs, even though the Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland FAs have all said they do not want their players involved in the British team as they fear it will compromise their independent status within FIFA.


Ferguson told reporters on Friday: "This is spurred by Argentina in the last Olympics, and Nigeria, playing their strongest teams, that's where it's come from."

"It's given the British Olympic team an opening to start thinking in the same way.

"But we have a different type of football to abroad, as everyone knows the intensity of the English game is second to none, it's an exhausting and exacting season."

Unlike many other European leagues, the Premier League does not stop for a winter break and the game is often played at a higher tempo than in other countries.

"That's why I keep saying I never expect England to do well at a European Championships or a world championship because the players have gone through a hell of a season," Ferguson said.

"It's exactly the same with the Olympics - I don't see how they can possibly get players to raise the bar after the season they have in our game.

"They need the rest, they need the pre-season training, they need the recovery and recuperation from injuries, small injuries they carry right through the season.

"I am sure what I am saying won't make any difference but it is a fact."

Ferguson was briefly touted as a possible coach of the British team but the idea never materialised unlike in 1948 when Matt Busby, another Scot who managed United, coached the British team in the last London Olympics.