Monday, 19 May 2014

The Corinthian Ideal

Over the weekend I spotted a comment on a blog somewhere around the net suggesting that at each World Cup that the 32nd team should be a FIFA select squad or, as the commenter put it, a Corinthian team which would be a staffed by men of nations who didn't qualify. (NB: I can't recall where I saw this I'd be most grateful if anyone can help so I can credit them properly).

Some may say this goes against the point of the World Cup claiming the World Cup shouldn't be 'prizes for everyone'. There is something in that but let's remember that the World Cup doesn't seek the best 32 teams from around the planet (as, in theory, the best 32 might be overwhelmingly concentrated in three continents) but, rather, balances a need to find the best teams with a need for worldwide representation. We accept that having additional representation from some arguably weaker regions means having lower representation from other arguably stronger regions. We accept, therefore, that some times we sacrifice quality for other matters.

Others may note that even so this should be nation against nation and the introduction of a non-national actor is problematic. There is something in that, admittedly. Then again, we have put men on the moon, found the Higgs-Boson and solved the Schleswig-Holstein question. 
If the footballing community wanted something like this to occur then it would happen. Hell, if it makes FIFA a penny more in revenue one would imagine that the idea would be rather more seriously considered!

Sadly though, clearly any such magical, whimsical idea which would add a bit of joy and mystique to the World Cup will never occur. No team would back it because they may, one day, be the unlucky 32nd team that missed out. Other teams who routinely qualify wouldn't like such an obvious threat to their success. It is the sort of odd idea that our footballing forefathers might have dreamt up in the 1880s but these days imagination is something sadly lacking in administration. If such an idea had occurred in 1930 and happened ever since we would likely cherish it as a glorious tradition but if foisted upon the hulking beast that is the modern World Cup it would be viewed in an entirely different light.

The beauty of such a team is that it acknowledges that some players will never play at a World Cup simply because they happened to be be born in a country that will never, or rarely, qualify for a World Cup. In a short career that is the sting of footballing life.

The World Cup is poorer for not having had players such as Giggs, Best, di Stefano, Weah, Litmanen, Kubala, Baxter, Rush, Erico and the like.  The World Cup would be better for their inclusion. There are others who were unlucky with selection - Cantona, Schuster etc - but there is a distinction between not being selected by a team who qualified and playing for a team that doesn't qualify.

If there were such a team, to use the unknown commenters name, who would play in the Corinthians squad this summer?

1. Samir Handanovi
ć (Internazionale and Slovenia)
2. Łukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund and Poland)
3. David Alaba (Bayern Munich and Austria)
4. Neven 
Subotić (Borussia Dortmund and Serbia)
5. Mehdi Benatia (Roma and Morocco)
Nemanja Matić (Chelsea and Serbia)
7. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal and Wales)
Marek Hamšík (Napoli and Slovakia)
9. Zlatan  Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden)
10. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland)
11. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid and Wales)
12. Aleksandr Kolarov (Manchester City and Serbia)
Petr Čech (Chelsea and Czech Republic)
14. Daniel Agger (Liverpool and Denmark)
15. Branislav Ivanovi
ć (Chelsea and Serbia)
16. Christian Eriksen (Spurs and Denmark)
17. Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid and Turkey)
Henrikh Mkhitrayan (Borussia Dortmund and Armenia)
19. Yehven Konoplyanka (Dnipro and Ukraine)

20. Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid and Turkey)
21. Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City* and Montenegro)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund and Gabon)
Wojciech Szczęsny (Arsenal and Poland)

Amongst others unlucky to miss out: Baloy (Morelia and Panama), Salah (Chelsea and Egypt), Ljajic (Fiorentina and Serbia), Farfan (Schalke and Peru), Coleman (Everon and Republic of Ireland), and Buruk Yilmaz (Galatasaray and Turkey). There are no doubt many, many more.
A strong team and a strong squad. Probably good enough to make a tilt at the cup itself although likely to be hurt with the same problems the British and Irish Lions have - unifying many factions quickly against more united opposition. One wonders what the odds on them would be in the 2014 FIFA Betting?

If the idea is utterly reprehensible would a 'Rest of the World XI' like the above playing against the newly minted World Champions be a nicer idea? 


*Amended as I'd neglected to put Jovetic's team at all!


dearieme said...

Marshall (Cardiff and Scotland)

dearieme said...

If you are a very, very good boy I'll tell you who number 21 plays for. Here's a clue, it ain't ManU.

dearieme said...

Is there a Rest-of-the-British-Isles side that could give England a game?

There's a strong spine of Marshall, Ashley Williams, Ramsay, and Bale. Colman plays right back, Johnnie Evans as the other centre-back. I've liked Snodgrass this season: play him on the right of midfield. How about the half-mad Steven Ireland? We need a left back, a left sided midfielder, and an eleventh man, whose position depends on the chosen formation.

Rob Marrs said...

Marshall was certainly up there in terms of consideration for goalkeeper but I think the three I've selected are ahead of him. Naismith probably the form Scottish player but a wee bit back.

Rest of UK would definitely give England a game.

Now, if we had a Team GB I reckon it would be in with a chance of getting pretty far in the World Cup... put Marshall, Naismith, Bale and Ramsey in the England squad and things are looking slightly tastier.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea - I'll put proposing it on the list for when I get a time machine.

As you say, if only it had been done when Corinthian values were on a high.

What makes it better than a "World Champions vs Rest XI" is that it wouldn't be just another uncompetitive friendly...

dearieme said...

But none of them would agree to play for you unless you bought 'em a birthday cake. Respec'!

dearieme said...

Actually, why leave it there? First the plonker complained that he didn't get enough respect because he's African, then he has his amanuensis make a fuss about a bloody birthday cake. What a megatwat.

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dearieme said...

Now Rickie Lambert wouldn't fuss about a ruddy birthday cake, would he?

I thought Lambert produced the pass of the season in one of the England games. Good player.

dearieme said...

Last night's game: lovely goal from Sturridge. What was Rooney for? Why would you select him when Lalalala or Sterling looks a better bet in that central position?

dearieme said...

Come on, Uncle Woy, field Lambert in place of Rooney, and Sterling in place of Wellbeck. Says Brendan, I don't doubt.

By the by, should one of the EPL clubs buy Fabregas? They've all already stocked up on attacking midfielders, haven't they?

Oh what fun it all is.

dearieme said...

Would the England team be stronger without Rooney and Gerrard?

Rob Marrs said...

I wouldn't start Rooney. I think they can't but not start Gerrard.

dearieme said...

It's odd that there isn't an English defensive midfielder as an alternative to Gerrard once you've decided against Barry.

Am I overlooking anyone?

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