They say time can heal all wounds or can depending on which perspective we wish to subscribe to, time can continue to divide – to separate. Here we are in, what is it? The eleventh year of ‘El Proceso Tabarez’ … I cannot for the life of me recall how we got here and what exactly we should celebrate, that a man has held on to a job for eleven years, that Uruguay has improved its international standing? That Suarez is Uruguayan? After a while everything we wish to highlight about the ten or eleven years we have been privy to has become blurred. Surely there has to be a reason why we bought an overpriced Uruguay jersey to begin with? We’ve all fallen victims to identification and blind support of the Uruguay national team but the reasons why no longer seem applicable or distinguishable from what we’re really celebrating or what we should be celebrating.
It’s been over a decade since Uruguay played Northern Ireland in what was then El Maestro Tabarez’ first game back as Uruguay’s national team manager. I was there, at Giants Stadium (which no longer exists). I remember Fabian Estoyanoff’s wonder-goal, catching the keeper off his line. Now eleven years later I get to see Estoyanoff singing on a Uruguayan award show? Really? Has it been eleven years? Is this what happens in ten years?
I remember the chief architect of Uruguay’s rise to the international top was Diego Forlan, a dirty blonde goal-scorer who came from a footballing somewhat regal family, the son of el Boniato Forlan, as an aside, do you realize Boniato in English is Yam? How crazy is that? Anyway back to Forlan, Forlan was the slightly disinterested goal scorer who somehow was signed by Manchester United and then scored a spectacular goal against Senegal in the 2002 World Cup. From ’02 to ’08 he was still part of Uruguay’s national team but didn’t make them better or worse, he was just there. And then in ’09 he came alive against Paraguay in the 2010 WCQ match played at El Centenario, we won that match. And then more famously scored a penalty kick against Ecuador in the WCQ match played at Quito. Forlan’s rock and roll style of football rocketed Uruguay from their usual underwhelming role FIFA always ascribes to Uruguay to a side that thrilled in South Africa, scored cartoonish goals.
But then memory serves to be juxtaposed with reality, was it Forlan or was it Tabarez who got Uruguay there? Supposedly as per a post 2010 FIFA report, Uruguay employed the most unorthodox formation in the 2010 World Cup, a 4-3-3 with the two threes in the 4-3-3 played at an angle. Because if you recall, Forlan dropped back to act as a conduit link between the midfield and the offense, Cavani won his ticket to ride and Suarez inherited Forlan’s striker role after having been used as a winger for 90% of the 2010 qualifiers. And there were other innovations, Alvaro Pereira was used as a winger-back, he could go up or down depending on the game and the situation, Tabarez found two sparkplugs in Arevalo-Rios and Diego Perez, this allowed Mono Pereira – if that name confuses you, feel free to use the more politically correct Maxi, God forbid we wouldn’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings – to charge forward. Tabarez did away with the South American insistence of having to play with a playmaker, and so Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Gonzalez found his services unusable after the match with France in the 2010 World Cup. Tabarez it seemed played his cards close to his chest. No one in their right mind knew Arevalo-Rios would be so crucial to Tabarez’ double pivot, he had capped him as early as 2006 but then forgot about him and after Peñarol discovered him in late 2008, Tabarez rediscovered him as well.
And here we have what is scientific evidence going face to face with blind luck. Before Tabarez arrived on the scene, no one had seemed to get the best out of Forlan, which is why Carrasco and Fossati continued to make Recoba – who was already on the decline – the player to build around. Forlan was already there though, and Forlan was even there in late ’06, when we lost to lowly Georgia, 2-0 with Forlan in the lineup and with Tabarez as the manager. Arevalo-Rios having been recruited so early in ‘el Proceso’ is what confuses everything. Did Tabarez purposely hide him to use him later? Or was it just a sheer accident he had actually capped him before and then managed to incorporate him at the right time. Its probably due to luck that Peñarol had managed to ‘discover’ Arevalo during the time Tabarez was looking to reinvigorate the midfield which had mainly consisted of Walter Gargano, Sebastian Eguren and Diego Perez. If this is what Proceso means, then there is no proceso… period.
But what about Cavani and Suarez, yes, this is what Tabarez will continually look back to, he plucked Suarez out of thin air. Insisted with him all throughout the qualifiers, readied him, but again this was luck. When Recoba retired in ’07, Tabarez’ hand was forced, so he had to look towards his youth players as options. Suarez had not been used in the 2007 Copa America because he was already a part of the 2007 Under-20 side that was participating in the Under-20 World Cup. Cavani had been more or less ready to be incorporated, and here Tabarez ‘waited’ on Cavani to mature a bit more, if Suarez was ready to play by October of ’07, Cavani would have to wait until the Quito match to really participate in the Uruguay NT. Ditto for Muslera, a player who had won a Coppa Italia with Lazio, but who Tabarez continued to overlook in favor of team favorites Sebastian Viera and then Juan Castillo. Those two followed the keeper in decline Fabian Carini who was a shadow of the player he was in 1999. Again proceso.
But what is that word… proceso? Maradona once famously said he hated that word, equating it to Argentina’s dirty war, and the way its citizenry were “processed” and sent to detention facilities to then be tortured. Proceso is really another word, and no it doesn’t mean Yam. Proceso can be understood to mean ‘project’ – so what we have here is a ten plus year project.
I’m lost though as to what the project’s ultimate goal is? Supposedly it was created to identity Uruguay players and incorporate them into the national team and once upon a time Tabarez had announced in 2006 that Uruguay would be playing 4-3-3 going forward. But now what is it we’re playing? This ridiculous hysterical power we attribute to game formations has nothing to do it with either. A 4-4-2 can be just as offensive as a 4-3-3 and so can a 3-4-3 God willing. What I mean is what are we playing? This is not South American football we’re playing; it’s at best a South American’s misunderstanding of European football. One of the qualities of a Tabarez side is how well Uruguay defends the set piece and how well we take corner-kicks. Tabarez like Peter the Great also modernized Uruguayan football to a certain extent he introduced ‘pressing’ or at least how to do it correctly before anyone jumps in to tell me that Ricardo De Leon introduced ‘pressing’ in Uruguay. ESPN commentator Ricardo Mayorga once said of Tabarez’ Uruguay that Uruguay plays to the limits of the rules, meaning they’ll do anything that is allowed which can then be understood as playing tough or defensively shrewd for 90+ minutes. But this isn’t proceso or a project.
In ten plus years under Tabarez, we went from a somewhat daring manager who FIFA said used the most unorthodox playing formation in the 2010 World Cup, who waited on Suarez to become Suarez, who waited on Cavani and hid Arevalo-Rios from sight until he absolutely needed him, who insisted with joke goal-keepers until Muslera was ready to play… who brought about ‘pressing’ and used winger-backs and allowed his fullbacks to plunge forward to a manager who has insisted on protecting older players, who has turned his back on offensive football and instead adopted a dry frugal offensive approach, his players can score but off an opponent’s mistake, which is why so much emphasis is placed on the corner-kick situations. This is what ten years of managing has given us?
But no one dares question Tabarez, who cares if his tournaments post 2011 have been spectacular train wrecks, see Uruguay’s exit in the 2014 World Cup or the 2015 Copa America or 2016 Fake Copa America. Uruguay was on top of the Qualification table and as of today is still in the top 4. But what the hell are we playing under Tabarez? Somebody explain it to me. Tabarez has now turned into the great Ignorer, he ignores talents like he once famously ignored Nery Castillo, then El Pollo Olivera, then Santiago Silva and now Giorgian De Arrascaeta – proceso gave way to “equipo de memoria” and who am I to disagree with this old fossil, Tabarez shits football plain and simple. He knows, I don’t know.
But then I begin to question him again, what does he know? I go back to his greatest triumphs in this era (I’m not drifting back to 1990… you can keep 1990 thank you very much!) – the 2010 fourth place finish and the 2011 Copa America conquest but then what has followed it? How many tournaments have we disappointed in, the 2012 Olympics, the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2015 Copa America… followed by the 2016 Fake Copa America. We can cheapen each tournament, I mean really who gives a shit about the Confederations Cup and who gives a flying fuck about the MLS sponsored Copa Centenario but these were tournaments (except the last 2 Copa Americas) which featured the most gifted soccer player all of Uruguayan football has known. One Luis Alberto (feel free to add another Spanish sounding middle name) Suarez. I’m missing something here.
How do we have Suarez and Cavani and then we still can’t get over the hump? How and why is Uruguay still dependent on that trash collection of footballers on the other side of the River Plate, in fact Uruguay’s chances going forward rest on whether Messi’s ban continues or is lifted? Seriously is this what el proceso means? Argentina, which has been a mess ever since 1990, this is the side that is so much better than us? They change managers every other day. This dejected, spoiled rotten supposedly world’s best player who has no idea what the lyrics of the Argentinean national team are, this is the team we dread? Mascherano belongs in an Argentine butcher shop or moving shopping carts from the parking lot to the store, this is a player we dread? Seriously??? We have a player who scores goals out of his ass in Barcelona and another who does the same in Paris and the only way we can score is off a corner-kick? Ten years has come to this??? There’s something I’m missing here.
I’m missing what the objective here is or has been for a while. This can’t be it. Surely Tabarez is playing a joke on us. He sat down, wrote a massive thesis about how to identify youth players, how to get them incorporated into the national team and we still have that box of chocolates called Arevalo-Rios on the national team setup? I don’t understand ANY of this anymore. I’m lost. It’s like I’m playing scrabble with only two letters F and Q and expect to get a word out of it.
The mind should be allowed to drift, to go back in time… Forlan was on that team in 2010 and 2011. Was the reason why Uruguay fared so well in 2010 and 2011 due mainly to Forlan having been a part of the team? Why has Suarez at his worst instincts been allowed to self-destruct with the whole world watching and not one recrimination from the NT manager? Gustavo Varela, Walter Gargano and even Recoba were banished for lesser offenses. Now with the passage of time, we can argue that maybe Forlan was 50% responsible for what Uruguay accomplished in 2010 and 2011, despite what FIFA’s post 2010 report said or all the accolades we wish to bestow upon Tabarez. Thankfully for us, we no longer have to watch Forlan’s eroding football skills, and he’s not embarrassing himself on national television like Estoyanoff is, he’s hidden away somewhere in India where he writes a column for an Indian newspaper and sometimes plays football, maybe instead of looking towards the next Sampaoli or Mourinho, we should seek out the services of Forlan and make him the next Uruguay NT manager, maybe now rather than later. I don’t know, I really don’t know nothing about football, soccer, futebol or whatever you want to call it – all I know is we played two World Cup Qualifiers, one at home and the other abroad but could not get a single point. Nada! Ten years of listening to Uruguay’s alcahuete media, which includes Segio Gorzy and his stupid fucking camera, all the brain dead writers at Ovación, Referi and Diego Muñoz at 180.com telling me how much better we are for having Tabarez as our NT manager.
We haven’t faced Brazil at home in World Cup Qualification since 2009 and the result is the same, in fact once again after absorbing a pornographic score line at the hands of the Brazilians we went back to Lima and lost to the Peruvians who are still a shit soccer side. Am I missing something, did I not get that Podesta email which explains everything? Obviously I didn’t.
Tabarez is still here because he trusted Luisito when nobody even knew who he was. Tabarez is still here because Argentina cannot maintain a coach that’s worth a shit for more than 2 years. Tabarez is still here because in-between qualifier matches we forget he’s there. Tabarez is still here because Uruguayans don’t like rocking the boat… but simply put Tabarez is still here because we forgot to replace him after the Olympics. And Tabarez will still be here after all is said and done because how could we have a national team without Tabarez, shame on us for even thinking that out loud.
And now dear friends, readers of this Blog, I must leave you again… I must continue my self-imposed exile, be well, continue to support Uruguay, heck continue to support Tabarez if it brings joy to your life.
Hasta la Victoria and hopefully Messi’s Ban is not reduced!