Ariel Garcé, say again? Argentina World Cup Squad Confirmed

On his CV one sees that he has played for Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central and he has played three times in the celeste y blanca. Marcelo Bielsa called him up back in 2003 to play against Honduras and the USA. He could not finish the first match as he was sent off; the second, he did. And the third was against Haiti, in Cutral-Có. It was his first game under Maradona. He played right back against a team far down in the world rankings that barely attacked. He sent in the cross for Palermo’s goal and was rewarded with the ‘good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ from the bench.

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Ariel Garcé, say Olé, will definitely be in the final 23 man squad. Say again? Garcé (30), has not been hiding under a rock his entire career. His brilliance has been recognised by the likes of Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central. Olé, in one of its most bizarre lapses of all common sense, of all dignity, is dancing like a giddy child at seeing what it seems to regard as one of its own, touched by God.

Once the decision has been made (or even hinted at) it becomes sacrosanct, ponderable only in terms of what it offers as a glimpse into the mind of an unquestionable genius. This mystical occasions are accompanied with the kind of vertiginous joy bloggers feel when their nappies are changed and the world to its very vanishing point becomes an avenue of freshness.

Even in a bizarre paragraph outlining his achievements to date, enthusiasm leaves doubt on its flabby ass: “Ariel Hernán Garcé is ‘el Chino’. On his CV one sees that he has played for Morelia de México, Colón, Olimpo and Rosario Central and he has played three times in the celeste y blanca. Marcelo Bielsa called him up back in 2003 to play against Honduras and the USA. He could not finish the first match as he was sent off; the second, he did. And the third was against Haiti, in Cutral-Có. It was his first game under Maradona. He played right back against a team far down in the world rankings that barely attacked. He sent in the cross for Palermo’s goal and was rewarded with the ‘good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ from the bench. And got himself in contention.”

Next time you feel tempted to complain about journalism in your part of the world, remember this. Both of pegamequemegusta’s hearts skipped slightly as the words struggled to align themselves to the globules of grammar and logic that supposedly float inside us. You’d swear this was a school report, a show and tell piece cobbled together from a Wikipedia entry written by a drunken, shell-shocked squirrel.  Besides the fact that it omits Garcé’s five year stint with a good River team (ten years ago), consider the reasoning behind the inclusion of this ‘quote’: ‘Good stuff, Chino, good stuff’ – the demented babbling seems to come in slow motion as if it were being spoken in that computer robot voice and dubbed over the denouement to Platoon.

Pegamequemegusta was sure that of all the nobodies – and we royally reiterate, they’re nobodies even in Argentina – called up to the provisional squad, Garcé had no chance.  Nonetheless it looks like the idea is that he goes as back up for Otamendi. It’s not personal, Masche, he just has no place being at the World Cup.  This isn’t a case of being such a Eurocentric that you can’t recognise a player’s good unless he’s not playing in foreign lands. After all, although he wouldn’t be in our squad due to the sheer number of awesome to semi-awesome players that have proven themselves in the ‘top flight’, pegamequemegusta does condescend to find Maradona’s selection of Sebastián Blanco quite interesting both for his qualities as a player and as an alternative left winger (though he’s no Maxi Moralez…). Diego’s taken the not-recognising-a-prophet worry and blown it into a complex that would make pegamequemegusta’s virgin though vicious and violent cat look like a vicarious vicar vying for veldspar in a Venezuelan valley (where said ore proliferates – and anyway, verbosity is not a vice).

Who cares, jaysus, we all knew really that this nonsense was going to happen. As chance would have it, though, just this evening pegamequemegusta was peering at the Guardian website and re-discovered an excellent Marcela Mora y Araujo article from last September. Yes, just after the spanking defeat doled out by Dunga’s Brazil.

One of the best parts is this: “The press, over whom descended a bizarre fear of stating the potential unmitigating disaster this could be, are beginning to suggest that soon they will become more critical.” Genius: they never said a thing when Basile started calling up random players and then discarding them nor when Maradona intensified the nonsense.

This goes to the black heart of the ‘Good stuff, Chino’ nonsense above – ‘uncle’ Julio Grondona is not only the head of the AFA but also an important stakeholder in Grupo Clarín, Olé‘s parent paper. While we hardly think Grondona was barking down the phone to big up Garcé, the reluctance to antagonise him in any way appears to have led to the craven bullshit outlined above.

Olé is a joke when it comes to what we shall tentatively refer to as editorial policy. Yet it’s the biggest-selling sports paper. The situation makes an even bigger joke of Diego and others’ claims of persecution by the media.

One more quote from the professional’s pen: “The clear lack of leadership within the squad needs to be resolved. The players are apparently suffering from the well-known social loafing syndrome, whereby in a collective enterprise each individual in the group underperforms relative to individual potential. Someone from within needs to redress this and bring out the best from each of the 62 young men who have been called up to duty and then left out to hang.” A slightly more sophisticated analysis than Diego’s somewhat simplistic players-in-Primera-have-balls-‘outsiders’-don’t, wouldn’t you say. And yet Maradona’s hopes appear to be resting on a sudden metamorphosis occurring in the chrysalis that is the tunnel in Johannesburg. Garcé is just one who’ll either be a butterfly or a Gregor Samsa.

Something tells me their wax wings will neither be slain by shadow nor by the sun. O sea, they’re coming back in the quarters, as usual.

*No-one’s feelings were hurt in the drafting of this post, though the cat did scratch the missus quite badly. Usual prize for last line reference(s).

………………………..

Later that day, squad confirmed:

-Romero, Andújar, Pozo

-Otamendi, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze, Burdisso, Garcé, Clemente Rodriguez

-Mascherano, Jonás, Verón, Di María, Maxi Rodriguez, Pastore, Bolatti

-Messi, Tevez, Diego Milito, Higuaín, Aguero, Palermo

Yes, there are almost as many strikers as defenders.

Maradona’s Provisional Squad: A Reflection

By the time pegamequemegusta came to, the names Juan Mercier, Sebastian Blanco, José Sosa, Juan Insaurralde, Clemente Rodriguez and Ariel Garcé were swimming around our poor contaminated mind with a nausea and discombobulation akin to that of a Sperm whale with the bends. Why, oh why not pick good players? Why this blind devotion to the local league? No-one else in the world would have picked this squad! It doesn’t make you a greater patriot! These aren’t even the best players in the league!

Los grandes ausentes and Gago
“Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!”
Moby Dick, Herman Melville

By now you’ll all have read the list, I imagine. Despite the talk of ‘no surprises’ that was coming from the telly and most of the media, the surprise was enough to provoke pegamequemegusta to the dramatic gesture of actually getting out of the plastic piece of garden furniture on which rests our ample behind before our legs, in an advanced state of atrophy after an extended ‘Summer of George‘, gave way and the long-suffering cat licked its face.

By the time pegamequemegusta came to, the names Juan Mercier, Sebastian Blanco, José Sosa, Juan Insaurralde, Clemente Rodriguez and Ariel Garcé were swimming around our poor contaminated mind with a nausea and discombobulation akin to that of a Sperm whale with the bends. Why, oh why not pick good players? Why this blind devotion to the local league? No-one else in the world would have picked this squad! It doesn’t make you a greater patriot! These aren’t even the best players in the league!

Yet after sucking on some stones, pegamequemegusta felt revived. Maradona did not call up 108 players to his various squads heretofore because he thought that his selections were worth a damn. Well, maybe he did, but his actions proved otherwise. Even the lesser offences, such as Maxi Rodriguez, Dátolo, Lavezzi and Coloccini, bear witness to this: Maradona has time and again called up players only to discard them immediately, with as little cause for their appearance as for their dismissal. The for-one-night-only appearance of 36-year old Rolando Schiavi playing up front Robbie Huth-style against Paraguay was, perhaps, the apotheosis of Maradona’s farcical call-ups.

Where Dátolo picked up the ball against Brazil last September

For a more illustrative case, however, let’s look at that of Jesús Dátolo. Given his competitive début against Brazil, he had such little participation in the game it appeared his teammates had not been made aware as to his presence, let alone his role, on the pitch. Nonetheless, in the second half, he got the ball somehow and blasted in a screamer. For the next game he was not even on the bench, and he was not called up again. Go figure.

The answer to the question, then, of whether these players have any chance at all of going to the World Cup appears to be in the negative. This raises the further question of whether it is not rather cruel to give these, for the most part, young players false hope. Judging by their delighted grins on TV this evening, it seemed to be an unqualified boon. Sebastián Blanco, in an interview with Olé speaks of goosebumps, about God, about his faith and hard work, about how he rang his dad when he was on the subway on his way home from work to tell him the news, of tears and laughter with his family. Best day of his life. But will their performances over the next seven days (the final list is due on the 19th) really carry the weight of one of Trap’s legendary training camps? Blanco seems to think so: “I understand there’s a training session on the 19th of May where the final squad places will be decided.” Yet it’s unlikely; the six players from Primera are probably just fillers, chosen for the very fact that they are such lightweights in order to make discarding them easier.

According to canchallena, however, they do have some chance. “Several of the names cut themselves,” they say on their mini podcast Destino Sudáfrica, referring to those named above. Yet after the Germany match Maradona said he had a list of twenty players in his head. It would appear that that list has not changed at all and that besides the six players above there are four more who do not have their places assured: Coloccini, Maxi Rodriguez, Dátolo and Lavezzi. So all is not lost for the locally based players. They could yet pip any of the above four for their place in South Africa.

Yet one could hardly believe, no matter what he says, that Maradona is really waiting to see how the players look in the jersey to  make his final decision, that he’s waiting to see if they put it on back to front or try to stuff their legs through the neck hole. He must know who he’s going to bring. And for the players he’s chosen and the obvious starters he’s left out, either he’s named those locally based players for no reason whatsoever or he’s going to bring them for no reason whatsoever. We’ll see next week yet in the meantime the thought that ran so many times through pegamequemegusta’s yellow fingers yesterday seems more justified than ever: why not just name the bloody 23 man squad first time out?