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Monday, December 12, 2005

"The World Cup is a truly international event."

TDH is in a philosophical mood today, so, loyal readers, pull up an armchair and lend an eye or ear.

Yes, TDH has been musing about what the football transfer market will look like, roughly eight months from today, when the big clubs chase after the stars of Germany 2006. Without a doubt, there will be a few more Costa Ricans, Togolese or Iranians playing in Europe's top leagues in 2006-07 then there are in 2005-06 - just like the Koreans and Senegalese who migrated after the last tournament.

The World Cup serves as a fantastic disseminator of football information. Most clubs don't send scouts to Angola, or even Australia, because it's hard to justify the expense when the likely yield is fairly low. Indeed, incomplete information is a constant problem on both sides of the football transfer market. When a certain team in Hong Kong's Yau Yee League posted a message seeking new players on the amateur association's own website, resumes flooded in from professionals all over the developing world.

But when unknown talents parade their skills in front of a television audience of billions, it's a scout's dream. Of course, only a few dozen of the best undiscovered players make it to the big show. That's too bad, because many others could probably find high-paying jobs in Europe's lower leagues.

Don't mention those leagues to Sepp, though. For years, he's been ranting that the transfer market robs the unique character from the various national games.

As anyone who watches football - which apparently doesn't include Sepp - can attest, his worries are overblown. It's obvious that the English, Spanish, German, Italian, Brazilian and Argentine leagues are just as distinctive as they've always been. The institutional memory underpinned by coaches, commentators, players and fans is a powerful force; new players adapt, or they move on to leagues that better suit their styles.

Still, TDH wonders how Sepp will reconcile his views with the showcasing of so many far-flung stars. The World Cup gives us a wonderful opportunity to glory in the diversity of world football. Should we then say, when it's over, "Go back to where you came from"?


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

hey, did you notice I completely forgot to include J. Cole in that lineup? I need to hand in my young joe appreciation society membership.

btw - I had a look at the Yau Yee thing, I noticed one Sam Cooper on it. You know him? he was a year older than me in school. He used to be on a team with a bloke called Brian Hammill who was one of the best players I ever saw.

appropos of nothin, SC is now persona non-grata among most of his old crowd, but thats another story....

and on the subject of World Cup discoveries, who wants to bet Houllier winds up wasting millions of Lyon's money on the new Diouf?

7:59 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Yes, I was wondering why you had Young Joe Cole in defense, until I realized the Cole was long-lost Ashley. You need to hand in your presidency.

Don't know Sam Cooper.

4:03 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

yeah. I should add that a simple way of rectifying my oversight (and attempting to win back presidency) would be to drop bent, move rooney up front with owen and play young joe in the hole. Result.

6:33 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Nah, that wouldn't work. Nobody on the front line would be tall enough to get on the rides at Disneyland. You need at least one big man to shake up defenses.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Great point about Sepp.
Very true how the institutional memory shapes the game and any change is very slow.

This topic is kind of appropriate with the WTO free trade arguments currently rumbling on in HK. Does the import of these players damage the production of local talent in the aforementioned countries. I would argue not.

8:04 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I'm not so sure. Why develop local talent when you can just import the finished article for a lowish price (note the cost of a Rio compared to that of Nesta or Walter Samuel)? The best talents will still come through, but the average level of home-grown talent will probably decline as spaces in top-flight squads are more often taken up by high quality foreigners. This may make little difference to the national team, where only the best should really be represented, and could improve the league by improving the average quality of player (especially if those players who are imported are chosen because they suit the country), but it probably does shallow the pool of home-grown talent.

11:33 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

You're not taking account of the dynamic aspect, Mara!

It's obviously true that the best way to guarantee the purity of every national game is to keeping every FA in quarantine. But it's not true that allowing international transfers reduces the number of valuable job opportunities for domestic players.

Here's why. Cast your mind back to what the third division of English football was like 10 or 20 years ago. Could any players have dreamed of making thousands of pounds a week? Yet today, in League One, they do. Incorporating foreign players has raised interest in the game around the world, leading to bigger television and merchandising revenue. It's also raised the standard by bringing in more talent and providing more cash for local academies.

So while the number of teams in the pyramid, and hence the number of playing slots, may not have changed, the number of slots from which a player can earn a living has. And my guess is that the number of playing slots overall has improved, too, as cash-rich teams expand their rosters.

It's the same old story on trade - the losses are easier to trace than the benefits, but the benefits are bigger.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Newcastle fan I would like to point out the number of our old academy players who are in our first team squad - Ramage (outstanding on Saturday), Taylor, Chops, Ameobi (The solution to England's problems on the left side? ahem...). All Geordies as well.

I find those who worry about the influx of foreigners into the English game to be motivated enitrely by xenophobia though.

Also I would nominate the peerless Scott Parker for the 4th spot in the England midfield. For one I am still yet to be convinced by Joe Cole. He's simply one of the most awful finishers I have ever seen. And for all his oppurtunities at international level he's never put in a good performance. I also loathe his diving and portuguese-esque play acting. As for Parker, i was just blown away by the shift he put in on saturday. He was everywhere. I'm astonished that people continue to place that flouncing Geordie traitor Carrick ahead of him as their pick for the WC squad. I wouldn't have Bent anywhere near the starting 11 though. Crouch is definitely one to bring on with 20 minutes to go to mix things up. You saw the look of horror in the argentinians eyes when that 6 foot 8 freakshow came on against him. They had no idea how to deal with him. Beckham has to on start. I have always been adament about that. Let Gerrard and Lampard does as they please. so I'd have: 4-1-3-2

Robinson, Cole, Terry, Sol, Neville, Parker (The new Matthaus '90) Becks, Lampard, Gerrard. Rooney, Owen.

2:19 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

very good point re: dynamics. I think the crucial difference with trade, however, is that local industry in football (academies, talent spotters etc) has had time to establish itself. Internationally, the countries most at risk of cheaper imports haven't had time to establish industry and large-scale agriculture as domestically viable yet. That needs to precede the full opening of borders.

Re: Anon, above, I'm a big and biased fan of Young Joe, but I have to point out that he's actually scored quite a lot this season, and I think he's been between decent and excellent in each of his games since his goalscoring performance against Northern Ireland.

On the Parker issue, Carrick is an entirely different player. while they both operate in central midfield, Carrick resembles Pirlo or Xavi more than any English players. He's a deep-lying playmaker, something England haven't ever really had. Parker was ok on the weekend, but he needs more than 4 or 5 decent club performances before I'd put him in against Argentina.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Carrick and Parker are completely different players but they're fighting it out for one particular spot: the deep lying midfielder. Parker has the steel combined with the skill that you don't usually get with someone who is supposed to do the dirty work in that midfield. At the end of the day Sven is going to take either MC or SP though.

As for mister Cole. Sorry, not convinced. He has played strictly one convincingly good game for England and that was against Northern Ireland. i could probably do a job on the left hand side aginst N. Ireland. his other appearances for the national team have consisted of his usual showboating followed by giving the ball away, scuffing it wide or into the arms of the goalie, or falling over. He is a much better player for Chelsea though I grant you. But out of his depth at international level.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parker was OK at the weekend!?!? What does the man have to do, kill himself? Half a season in and he has been our outstanding player in the majority of matches (not saying much I know). It's a crime that in all likelihood Jenas will be in that final 23 while Parker stays at home.

Quite frankly England have enough players who can do the same job as Carrick.

4:31 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Carrick probably gives you a bit more on offense, but that's not so much what England need in the holding position. They need a calm passer who will also protect the back four (or back two, with Cole and 'tache taking their usual jaunts).

And that's what Parker gives you. Carrick has a five-inch height advantage, but only 11 pounds more in weight. Scottie's built like a brick, and he never gives up.

Sven doesn't necessarily have to leave Jenas out. He can be #23, assuming Dyer's not healthy.

7:54 PM  

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