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Pipe dreams versus pragmatism
26 May 2010, 12:12 PM | Source: Robert Grasso, SBS
In the end, that midfielder Nicky Carle was among three players dropped from Pim Verbeek's 28-man Socceroos World Cup squad was probably the worst kept secret.
Carle himself had admitted that his season at Crystal Palace was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. And Verbeek had conceded as far back as two years ago that the 28 year-old never fit into his 'system'.
It was a subject one always approached with trepidation when dealing with the Socceroos coach.
Any mention of Carle's name and why he should be given a regular start in the national team was often met with a grunt, a shake of the head and a look of disdain at anyone who dared question the Dutchman's omission.
Unfortunately, what creative flair the recent Sydney FC signing may have brought to Australia's World Cup campaign has been cancelled out with a callous stroke of a pen.
I remember seeing Carle play for a NSW representative side against Libya back in 2005.
Even then, he displayed an outstanding ability with the ball, the culmination of years spent as a junior playing Futsal where time and space is severely restricted.
His close ball control, dribbling, vision and passing were all second to none. To this day, he remains one of the most skilful, exciting Australian players I've ever seen.
It's a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. Pick a side according to your rigid formation instead of forming a side around your players strengths.
For Verbeek's sake, we'll all be hoping he got it right come World Cup kick-off next month in South Africa.
Indeed the latest player selection controversy hasn't been limited to the Socceroos as the leading nations rolled out their provisional World Cup squads over the past few weeks.
As expected, pragmatism won out over the fans pipedreams.
The Italians have a word for a player possessing creative brilliance.
A fantasy footballer. One who can change proceedings with a moment of individual brilliance. An incisive pass. A slalom-like run. An amazing goal.
In Italy's case, that player was someone like Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano, the man whose fragile temperament is in direct relationship to his colossal skill.
Coach Marcello Lippi apparently can do without him despite an attacking line-up that will most likely struggle to hit the side of a barn.
And then there's perhaps one of the greatest players to ever grace the game, Brazil's two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho.
The AC Milan star may be good enough for Nike to promote the 2010 World Cup.
Brazil Coach, Dunga obviously couldn't care less.
There can be no question, in my mind at least, that a World Cup missing some of the globe's most skilful players will be all the poorer for it.
Pragmatism against pipe dreams.
Winning ugly selected ahead of skill.
Weep not Ronaldinho and Cassano.
Lionel Messi is carrying the flame.