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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"The 33- or 34-year-olds will be 36 or 37 by the time the next World Cup comes around, if they're not careful."

So, the Netherlands and the US have missed out on seedings in the World Cup. This travesty - especially, TDH will grudgingly admit, in the Dutch case - has occurred mainly because FIFA believe results that occurred a dozen years ago will somehow impact performance in Germany. So group runners-up France (are you kidding?) and Mexico (debatable) get the seeds, and group winners Netherlands and the US miss out.

Genius! TDH will be shocked if you can't count on one hand the players who will have lasted long enough to appear in 1994 and 2006. And world football is changing more rapidly than ever these days; witness the four debutantes coming from Africa, plus Trinidad and Tobago. Surely it's time to update the silly seeding procedure.

All that said, it's clear from looking over the teams that competition is improving. There will probably be several groups with no easy matches; imagine Brazil-Netherlands-Korea-Paraguay, or Argentina-Czech Republic-US-Australia. It should be a very entertaining tournament.

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The Special One may be getting the better of him in England these days, but Le Professeur sure knows how to dick the Espanish around. After Florentino Perez sent Arsene a lovenote in his transparently calculated but supposedly off-the-cuff remarks, the Alsatian had this to say:
"It is an attractive job certainly to everyone who has no job! But, on the other hand, it looks to be not a stable job.... When rotation within a club becomes too quick, that means the problem doesn't always lie with the manager, but somewhere else.... I'm under contract until 2008 and I always try to respect my contract. That's not disrespectful to Real Madrid or anyone else, it's just my line of conduct.... I love Real Madrid as a club, they were the club of my childhood when they won the European Cup five times in five years but I'm 100% committed to Arsenal and I want to do the job well for as long as my contract lasts."
TDH would now like to offer a translation, for those loyal readers who do not understand French:
"Sure, for enough money I could be convinced to move to Madrid, even if I had to work for a football dunce like Perez. But you'd better give me an ironclad guarantee of a multiyear contract, or there's no way I could develop players the way I do at Highbury. You remember when Madrid developed players, right? I think it was at about the same time the team won all those big silver shiny things. Anyway, if you're serious, I think I could persuade Thierry to come, too. His contract's up just before mine."
What would the Gooners do without Wenger and Henry? Not be able to pay for their new stadium, that's what, and then have to go begging to yet another American or Russian bazillionaire for a bailout.

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And finally, to TDH's brother-in-law from East Kilbride, here are congratulations for Rangers' achievement in reaching the round of 16 in the Champions League. The only downside for TDH is that Alex McLeish's resume may not show up on Tyneside quite so quickly now....

6 Comments:

Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

Not to be a pedant, but the 1994 tourney wasn't counted in the seedings this time around.

I'm also not too fussed about a group runner up being seeded when a group winner isn't - these groups are very uneven. Some teams virtually had a bye into the tournament. One good tournament is not enough to convince me the US deserve a seeding. By that reasoning, South Korea should be seeded as well. And the fact remains that for all their talent, the Netherlands rarely perform well in the tournaments, and as such shouldn't be seeded ahead of less talented teams who have outperformed them.

BTW - if Brazil win, as many think they will, Cafu will extend his own record of appearing in four consecutive World Cup Finals.

11:58 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

You're right, I misread the news story. Actually, they were thinking of using the 1994 results but didn't in the end. Still, how many 1998 players will be returning for this cup? Probably a few on the big squads, but no one else. And how many coaches? Call me crazy, but I think the only thing that should count is the team's current ability to win, judged by the quality of its players and recent performances.

2:24 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I do see your point, and the case of France surely shows the weaknesses of the current system.

The problem is that the current ability to win is very difficult to gauge - how does one compare the qualifying record of Ghana to that of, say, Ukraine? they're both unknown World Cup quantities, and both are reliant on one talismanic individual, and came through wildly differing qualifying groups. Ukraine have shown they were capable of beating a physical and organised Greece team, but what would happen if they were pitted against a technically gifted, but physically weak team like Japan?

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really have a problem with the seedings. Obviously they're not cast-iron assessment of the football hierarchy (England second?!?) but I don't think they're meant to be. It is the World Cup and taking into account previous World Cup performances makes perfect sense. You should be rewarded/punished for how well you do on the biggest stage, which is really the only way you sort out the men from the boys when it comes to world football. Sure the last world cup was a bit of an anomaly (the european teams just didn't show up. And has a final been contested by two poorer teams than 2002's Germany and Brazil sides?). Holland didn't qualify for the last world cup and the result is that they weren't seeded for this one. Seems fair enough to me.

It's certainly fairer than having the FIFA bods sit in a room and argue about the relative merits of each national team. ('England? Come on! they've got no left side and if Rooney gets injured they've got no chance.") It's not a bunch of guys debating down the pub.

Also you have to consider how unfair the World ranking are (they don't take into account the relative strengths of each continent). No offence A.G. but the US aren't one of the top ten sides in the world. If FIFA used a system based solely on those rankings people would be a lot more upset. so by combining two arguably two flawed systems things even themselves out a bit. I think...

But as an England fan I would be happy with the system though, wouldn't i?

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that should have read: in my humble opinion the US aren't one of the top ten sides in the world cup. Opinions are like arseholes though, everyones got one. Which is sort of my point.

6:57 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Hey, I know the FIFA rankings are a load of crap, and I'm not suggesting that anyone use them, either. They also rely on far too much old data for my taste.

But I don't see what's wrong with the lads down the pub. In the annual American college basketball tournament, the guys at the bar seed 64 teams from a variety of different leagues... and almost no one complains.

And sure, you can go on about the US team lacking Ronaldinho- or Rooney-like ability, but the fact is that they have solid players plus better-than-average stability in the coaching staff and the lineup. Does that mean they overachieve relative to their talent? Probably yes, but I'll take it. I feel a new post coming on....

3:04 AM  

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