I realize I'm a little late on responding to this, but it still is worth a post. Brazil, like most World Cup teams, announced their final roster the other week. Not included in the final roster was once greatest player in the world, Ronaldinho. Brazil's head coach, Dunga (no last name of course), basically said that he selected his squad based upon their past performances together and believed that this squad had the best chance to win. Makes sense.
But Ronaldinho's absence from the final roster has caused quite the discussion and criticism. A lot of reporters and other analysts are criticizing the coach for omitting Ronaldinho. World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan criticized Dunga for the omission and said that "some coaches are "blinded" by a sense of power." And that "Ronaldinho is a "soccer genius" who had talents "enjoyed by few in the game, both past and present." He said that Dunga "should have selected the midfielder "as a matter of course."
Which brings up an interesting point. How much should a player be favored because of his name? And how much would it have really mattered to bring Ronaldinho? He's not going to be one of the starting 11. At best he would be a sub and maybe get in for a game or two. I find it hard to believe that he isn't as good as any other sub. Or that he isn't as good as the #23 person (the final spot) on Brazil's roster. So if he is likely as good as Brazil's worst player, why not bring him? Hasn't he earned it? Wouldn't his reputation and name alone be good for the game and for the cup?
But maybe that is the point Dunga is trying to make. He's not here to honor the past. He's here to win. No one made the team because they are dating the coach's daughter or some booster paid a lot of money to get them on the team. No one is on the team because of their name or their club team. They are on because he believes they are flat out the best 23 players Brazil has to offer. I think that message will be a bigger boost to the team than anything else he could have done. Knowing that their coach is so committed to winning that he is willing to do whatever is needed to win, even if it means leaving off the fabled Ronaldinho and taking criticism for it. It has to be inspiring to the players and let them know that Brazil is in it to win it and that anything less will be a disappointment.
I understand it, but I'm still bummed about it. Nike released their amazing World Cup ad this last week. Ronaldinho is of course featured in it. I say of course because Nike, like most of the world, probably thought Ronaldinho would make the Brazil squad. Nike probably also needed to get the most recognizable faces in soccer to sell to the world. Ronaldinho is one of those faces. He was the face of the game in the 2006 World Cup. He also left his cleats in Brazil and forgot how to play soccer for a month and went MIA. Still though, it's amazing that its only been four short years since he was king of the soccer world and he won't even be part of the team this year.
Frankly, I feel somewhat robbed of the Ronaldinho era. I feel like it should have lasted longer. Jordaan is right. Ronaldinho is a soccer genius. There was so much promise and so many good times. I'm sad it has come to an end. It could have been so much better and lasted so much longer.