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.

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.

Bigmouth Strikes Again – and it’s not Maradona!

Ah yes, Argieball is a land where precious few opinions are kept to oneself, where the amount of exertion in just keeping schtum about all the really dodgy shit seems to provoke an equally intense outpouring of utter crap. There’s so much pressure from corrupt shit that they spout out inconsequential nonsense. It should be like when Homer turns up the radio to hide a smell but surprisingly enough, due to a complicit media, this strategy, despite having all the complexity of throwing a coin across the room to confuse a cat, tends to work. So while the paper and the TV are constantly braying about the internas that rack the fragile little skiffs that make up Argieball’s flighty fleet, the macro problems that determine their eventual destination – with the possible exception of fan violence, in which Olé, for one, has an admirable record – go ignored. It is surprising for a nation of people who describe themselves as “just off the boat” to have such unsound navigational principles – the equivalent of plotting a voyage by studying mess chat. Though perhaps that can be explained by the fact that the founder of their navy was a Paddy.

This week, in any case, was a particularly raucous week where it actually appeared that there was more substance to the flying insults than a mere desire to sell papers and give bored micro-journos something to talk about.

Caruso vs El Turco

It all kicked off on Monday, when serial club hopper Caruso Lombardi of Tigre had a burlesque exchange with el Turco Asad, of shock table-topper Godoy Cruz. The latter were winning 6-2 in Mendoza when the ball came to Caruso in his ‘technical area’ and he kicked it at Asad, hitting him in the back. As well as the genuinely ape-like mimes that accompany the ensuing fracas, thanks to the microphones on the touchline – and everywhere else – every word of their harpy-ish banter was caught on tape.

The match is nearly over but due to the need to show every single match on TV (Fútbol para todos) so as to not allow football succumb to the elitism of the market, it’s still only half three on a Monday afternoon. Therefore, the commentators are disgusted and repeatedly beg for the unedifying spectacle to end. Nonetheless, the producer continues to broadcast the sound:

Caruso: “You fat fuck, you fat fucking junkie.”

El Turco: “Yeah yeah yeah, you even beg your players for money, you cheap cunt.”

Caruso: “Go fuck yourself, you cokehead [makes coke-scooping gesture].”

El Turco: “Fuck you [makes money gestures].”

Etc.

While all the forums pegamequemegusta has had its minions read and summarise have been fiercely critical of Caruso in all this, no-one either knows or wants to say if there really is anything behind it. Some posters have been scoffing at the idea of Caruso calling someone else a ‘cokehead’, given the role Maradona played in him getting his first job in Primera. Nonetheless, he says he’s going to bring Asad to court to clear his name of the ‘accusations’ that he asked his players for money: “He’s going to have to prove that. He’s going to have to find some player of mine to back him up. And he’s got a load to choose from ’cause i’ve managed a lot.” This seems to be the root cause of poor old Caruso’s ire. Having recently been booted off the irksome village bike that is Racing, he now finds himself back at a small club being routed by someone who, despite boasting a much more successful footballing career than he – having been voted player of the tournament in the Copa Intercontinental in 1994, where Vélez beat a sexy Milan team – is a rookie in management terms: “Who the hell is he anyway? He’s a fucking illiterate, that’s what he is [….] He’s just starting as a manager, I don’t know who he thinks he is. All these young managers think they’re God’s bleedin gift,” he said the following day, once he’d cooled down.

If you’re looking for any cultural insights in all this, you might be interested to know that neither manager was sent from the dugout.

Palermo vs Riquelme

That same afternoon, Boca, fresh from the bimonthly colonic irrigation instigated by means of a manager change, also had an afternoon to set tongues a-wagging. Firstly, and perhaps most remarkably, they won for once, beating Arsenal 4-0 in the Bombonera (their first win in four, second in ten). Secondly, Riquelme and Palermo played well, the former setting up the latter for his 219th and 220th goals in a Boca shirt. With those goals el Loco had surpassed the record held by Roberto Cherro since the 1940s and become Boca’s all time leading goalscorer. This day had been heralded with enough fanfare to match that for Pelé’s thousandth, and in similar fashion it was served to Palermo on a plate by Román, who clearly could have scored himself if he’d wanted. However, watch what happens after he gives the assist (on the first goal):

Palermo has always been a more strightforward type of figure than the moody Riquelme, the Zangief to his Guile, if I may, and you can almost see his heart break as Riquelme runs away pointedly refusing to celebrate with him, turning what should be one of the greatest moments of his career into an embarrassing farce. Although Juan Román is always welcome here near the back of the car wash where pegamequemegusta spends most of its time, what he does here is downright evil.

While he may have been wise to not mention the incident at all, Palermo allowed himself to be drawn on the matter during the week as he attended several press briefings throughout the week organised to celebrate his consolidation as an a living legend: “Let’s be clear, we’re not friends, we have no relationship, the only thing we have in common is that we wear the same jersey and that both of us, as senior players, are obliged to help Boca get out of this situation. [….] Before in the dressing room it was difficult; now it’s changed – it actually is how they say.”

Unlike the previous scuffle, theories abound as to the wherefores of this dispute. Principally, however, it comes down to a couple of things: wage differences between the two (Riquelme is playing for free), control over the group, their contrasting relations with the media (JR little or nothing; Martín, always ready) and, moreover, both Palermo and Riquelme’s contracts are up this summer and it is not clear whether either or both will be renewed. Meanwhile, the man touted as Boca’s next manager is another club legend currently plying his trade with Columbus Crew in the MSL, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Palermo, who’s good buddies with Guille, would not be ill-disposed to the idea; while Román, who did not want either Basile or Alves to go, has stated publicly that he would not be at all happy with the idea of a former teammate “telling me what to do”. (More on this here, for Spanish readers, though there are as many dodgy statements as good ones). Again, it has to be said that Román looks like the moe childish but the real fault is with the inertia and incompetence of the Boca board under Ameal, who pointedly failed to nip the crisis in the bud, have rowed back and forth on several issues, undermining their own authority and repeatedly firing managers, thus creating a power vacuum in a dressing room even tenser than when JT refuses to sing at next years Man City X-mas party.

He stands where it is steep,
oh I guess he thinks that he’s the very first one,
his hand upon his leather belt now
like it was the wheel of some big ocean liner.
And she will learn to touch herself so well
as all the sails burn down like paper.
And he has lit the chain
of his famous cigarillo.
Ah, they’ll never, they’ll never ever reach the moon,
at least not the one that we’re after;
it’s floating broken on the open sea, look out there, my friends,
and it carries no survivors.
But lets leave these lovers wondering
why they cannot have each other,
and let’s sing another song, boys,
this one has grown old and bitter.

Bonilla vs Fuertes

"The Black Hole" - Olé's charming take on Boca's defence

And that wasn’t all at Boca this week: there was an even more bizarre story involving their centre back, Bonilla, and el Bicho Esteban Fuertes, of Colón. In a match played last Wednesday, Boca were 3-0 down when their Colombian centre back launched a two-footed lunge on man of the match, Fuertes. It was a horrendous challenge and Bonilla rightly got a straight red, however, today the story reappeared as the defender broke down during an interview on TyC Sports, claiming that he had been racially abused, by two players: “You black bastard, go back to Africa you fuckin chump!” Upon hearing about this story, I had my doubts. After all, Bonilla was the aggressor, had played horribly and may have been looking for an excuse. Moreover, despite being reprehensible, casual racism is extremely common here; in fact, anyone with skin that is in any way dark is referred to as negro, often affectionately – as with me, a bottle-white Paddy! Yet when you watch the video, despite his insistence that it was hardly even a foul, I think you can only side with Bonilla. He speaks convincingly about only having come to this country to work and how he couldn’t understand it since “we’re all South Americans”. The Colón players deny the allegations. Bonilla says he did not mention the incident to the disciplinary committee but that he has now as  “I just want to see the rules of the game upheld.” In the media there has been nothing along the lines of Aragones/Henry, but at least the story was publicised to some extent.

And finally, to round off this week of fiery bigmouthery and spleen-bursting bitterness, Lanús were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores tonight after drawing 0-0 at home with Universidad de Perú. As fine representatives of Argieball, they did not go down without a fight.

She said, I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
A wedding dress or something white
To wear upon my swollen appetite.