There’s a great line in the movie “Contagion” where someone, I forget who, says “Blogging is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation.” Something which we can also apply to comments but there are certain comments that stay with you. And there was one comment said here on this Blog a while back, I forget who said it (geez what’s going on with my memory?) but anyway someone once said that Diego Forlán will be our Roger Milla in the 2014 World Cup. Hmmm…
Its an interesting comment, regardless of who said it. Milla who scored 4 goals in the 1990 World Cup, did so at the ripe old age of 38 – Forlán will be 35 assuming he is selected for to play for Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup. So the idea is that Forlán, 3 years younger than Milla was in 1990, will have a special World Cup in 2014 – and why shouldn’t he? This is a player who twice led La Liga in scoring, this is a player who played in the Brasileirão and whose been an intricate part of the Sky-Blue since 2002.
And then there’s a lot of things when it comes to Blondie that many people take for granted, many historical moments – he scored on his debut with the Sky-Blue jersey, scored in his first World Cup appearance (45 minutes against Senegal) and went on to score 5 goals in his first complete World Cup (2010) – besides the Golden Ball trophy he bagged for his World Cup performance, he went on to become Uruguay’s all-time most capped player and was the first to break Hector Scarone’s 80 year old most goals scored for Uruguay (a record now held by Luis Suárez). Forlán for the longest time was a special player, the records he went on to achieve with Uruguay were well deserved and should be applauded.
The Forlán most of us remember however is not so much the Diego Forlán who put the team on his back and almost willed us to a World Cup final, that talismanic Forlán has been replaced by an aging player – slower, stubborn… not quite the electrifying player most of us discovered in the 2002 World Cup.
Down 3 goals to Senegal in the 2002 World Cup, who in their right mind would turn to a youth player to reverse the tide? But that’s exactly what occurred. In came Forlán in the 2nd half and brought a whole different dynamic to the game. Suddenly a win was possible. Say what you want about Victor Púa, but it was a different era back then, everyone got a chance to play, of course that being said, everyone got to come back home early as well. But there was hope. Hope that youth players could contribute. Something Forlán did thanks to Púa, a dozen years back.
Not quite the sentiment nowadays, under Oscar Tabárez, the youth option is an evil word. Forlán will probably be taken but at what cost? And to preserve what exactly? A memory? A legacy? This is a different era. If there are youth players who could contribute on this World Cup squad – especially the number of players that can be plucked out of the Under-20 Side – none will get the chance that Forlán got in 2002, that much is clear.
Lets assume of course that there is a chance, that Uruguay’s upcoming friendly matches will feature maybe one or two players (besides Gimenez) from the Under-20 side that reached the Under-20 World Cup Final? Unless Tabárez is playing his cards close to his chest, it’s highly unlikely he’ll cap a player like Nicolás López, De Arrascaeta, Laxalt or Diego Rolán. Two games, especially against Slovenia and Northern Ireland won’t tell Tabárez much unless he’s grading on a scale.
Now lets consider another opinion, is capping Forlán the worst thing out there? No, certainly not. If Forlán is inheriting El Loco Abreu’s elder statesman role, OK, I guess we can all live with that call-up. But what if, what if a catastrophe occurs? What if we lose Suárez or Cavani, or maybe both, is this our Plan B? Diego Forlán? And can we live with that?
Well this is where we have to consider some other variables: this will be Forlán’s third World Cup, had Uruguay qualified to the 2006 World Cup, this would have been his fourth World Cup! And then we have to consider all those accolades that are associated with the global Forlán brand. Uruguay never had a player like Forlán, Cameroon did, they had Milla; he set the bar pretty high, in Cameroon at least. In Uruguay, taking Forlán is a double-edged sword. You take him, you know he has the talent but does he have the goods anymore? Good question… Does he?
Forlán can be our Roger Milla, no question about it but he can also be our albatross, does this Uruguay side even need an elder statesman striker anymore? Tabárez has always found room for at least one fogey on his World Cup rosters, in fact all of his World Cup squads have had at least one: Alzamendi in 1990; Abreu in 2010. But in 2014 is that idea even practical? The basic idea of “El Equipo de Memoria” is that the players who took part in the 2010 World Cup will have had the experience of 2010 on which to recall on, in other words the foundation has been set. Does Cavani need a referential point at this moment in his career? Does Suárez? I doubt it. Forlán represents a nice idea, perhaps a romantic one and in a perfect world he should be rewarded for the time he’s put in for Uruguay but think about this… in 2014 a younger Forlán wouldn’t even make this team because an older player already took his spot, even though that old player is named Diego Forlán.