Note: Yet another post not to be taken too seriously.
The Trial of the Mano Five
São Paulo, Brasil
Special to the Brazil World Cup Blog
The joint trial of Neymar, Pato, Ganso, Lucio, and Dani Alves concluded today. The five players known together as the “Mano Five” were given the chance to provide their own defense when called up to the stand.
It is an open secret that the five are being tried in place of one Mano Menezes, the dastardly mastermind who engineered the shocking quarterfinal defeat to Paraguay in the Copa America earlier this month. While calls for his indictment were made in almost every quarter of the Internet, President Ricardo Teixeira declared that Menezes has complete immunity.
“No one’s gonna lay a f***in’ finger on my Mano,” Teixeira growled, when asked for comment.
In Mano’s absence, justice had no choice but to turn to the players for retribution. The five players who, fairly or unfairly, were most expected to deliver a Copa America trophy were duly indicted by the Grand Jury of Knee-Jerk Opinions. The following is a partial transcript of the charges and indictments against them, followed by excerpts from their defense.
Charges of the indictment:
- Failure to deliver the performance expected of him,
- alleged to have abandoned all tactical discipline by ignoring the positioning required of a right-back,
- failure to attempt a single cross,
- alleged to have left his first touch in Barcelona,
- having a haircut unbecoming that of a grown man
To these charges the defendant has pleaded NOT GUILTY.
Summary of Direct Examination:
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dani, could you please describe for the court your name and occupation.
DANI ALVES: Sure. My name is Dani Alves, and I’m the best damn right back in the world thank you very much!
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you. Dani, can you please describe your relationship with Mano Menezes.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Objection! Mano Menezes is not on trial here!
JUDGE: Hmm. I’m going to allow it. Overruled. But you’re on a short leash, Counselor.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I understand, Your Honor. Dani? Your relationship?
DANI ALVES: My relationship? To be honest, there’s not much of one. He calls my name, I go on the pitch, the referee blows the whistle for time, and that’s it.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So you never talk? He never tells you anything but whether you are to play or not?
DANI ALVES: Not a thing. But why would he? What is there to talk about?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No discussion of tactics? He never tells you, for example, to play differently for Brazil than you would for Barcelona?
DANI ALVES: What are you implying? That I’m supposed to play differently for one or the other?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Some say that you have to, considering that Brazil and Barcelona are not the same thing, neither in terms of history, style, personnel, time allowed to train…
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Objection! Hearsay!
JUDGE: Sustained. Watch yourself, Counselor.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dani, what is your feeling about crosses?
DANI ALVES: Well, I’m not wild about them. I mean, I’m a Brazilian. I’d rather take on three defenders and dribble past every one of them. But I understand that sometimes you need to send in crosses. I’m actually rather good at it, when I try. That’s why I have so many assists for Barcelona.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But some say…sorry Your Honor, but what if, hypothetically, I were to say that you never sent in a cross at the Copa America!
DANI ALVES: Well, I figured, what was the point? There’s no one tall enough on the team to even collect a cross. Pato wasn’t going to do it. Neymar wasn’t going to do it.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you. Your witness.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Mr. Alves, you say that no one would have even been able to collect a cross even had bothered to attempt one. But isn’t it true that Pato scored on a cross sent in by Andre Santos?
DANI ALVES: Ah…um…yeah, I think so. I didn’t play in the Ecuador match. So I wasn’t really paying attention.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Yet you know that it took place against Ecuador.
DANI ALVES: Um…I think? That may have been what someone told me. Yes.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: I see. Mr. Alves, tell me…who cuts your hair?
DANI ALVES: I do. Why?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: I have no further questions.
JUDGE: Any redirect?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY (quickly): Yes, your honor. Dani, before you played in the Copa America, what were you doing?
DANI ALVES: I was training with the national team, playing friendlies and practice matches.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And before that?
DANI ALVES: I was playing the Champion’s League final.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And before that?
DANI ALVES: I was playing the Champion’s League semi-final.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And before that?
DANI ALVES: I was playing the Copa Del Rey final.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And before that?
JUDGE: Get to the point, Counselor!!!
DANI ALVES: I played the entire season of La Liga, the entire season of the Champion’s League, the Copa Del Rey tournament, plus numerous friendlies for the Seleção going back till August. And before that, I was playing in the World Cup.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So you would say that you’ve played a LOT of football in the past year? That perhaps you are tired?
DANI ALVES: Hell, yes.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And is it true that you tend to run more on the pitch, farther and faster, than any other player in the world?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Objection! Speculative! Witness can only testify as to what he knows for a fact!
JUDGE: Mr. Prosecuting Attorney, save it. We’ve got four more players for Black Matt to write about and he can’t keep typing in objections all the time. They stop being funny. Overruled. Sit down.
DANI ALVES: Yeah, I think I run harder on the pitch than almost anybody. I have to, because you know…sometimes I get so far up the field that I’m almost playing as a center forwa-
DEFENSE ATTORNEY (quickly): Thank you, thank you. Dani, can you tell me about your performances for the Seleção before the Copa America?
DANI ALVES: Sure. I played pretty good against the US. Not fantastic, but pretty good. Linked up well with Ganso. And I was the best player on the pitch against Iran and Ukraine. I scored goals in both games. And I was great against Argentina, too. All of us defenders were, until the last 15 seconds. And against France, after Hernanes got sent off, I was the only player who could actually dribble the ball three yards and not lose it. Against Scotland, I got forward all the time and kept sending in passes into the box for Leandro, Jadson, Elano, and I almost scored a few times. Would have gotten an assist had Jonas not messed up. Against Holland I didn’t play so well, but like I said, that was after a year of playing almost non-stop football.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So you would classify yourself as the most consistent performer for Brazil up until the Copa America?
DANI ALVES: I would.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: With almost no tactical direction or instructions from Mano Menezes?
DANI ALVES: None.
BRAZIL WORLD CUP BLOG READER: Objection! Speculative! Black Matt can only write about what he knows!
JUDGE: Overruled! You’re out of order!
BRAZIL WORLD CUP BLOG READER: I’m out of order? This whole BLOG’s out of order!
JUDGE: Bailiff, get him out of here!
Charges of the indictment:
- Being slow as a stump,
- Not helping in defense
- Playing too high up the pitch,
- Not moving without the ball, not showing enough effort
- Misplacing passes, not controlling the game
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: How do you respond to some of these allegations? For instance, what is your explanation for your slowness?
GANSO: Everybody knows that the tortoise always beats the hare.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: I’m sorry?
GANSO: Everybody knows that the three-toed tree sloth always beats the ocelot.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: But not the logging industry. In any case, you admit that you are slow?
GANSO: I prefer to think of it as “thoughtful.”
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Your honor, the witness is being evasive and argumentative!
GANSO: Yes, I’m slow. But Zinedine Zidane was slow. Juan Roman Riquelme was slow. Lots of playmakers are slow.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: And what of the charge that you did not help out in defense?
GANSO: You think Zinedine Zidane helped out in defense? Zidane NEVER defended. Not once. He didn’t know the meaning of the word.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: But Zidane may have been the most gifted playmaker in the history of the world. His defensive deficiencies were more than offset by his extraordinary gifts on the pitch, his knowledge of how to use them, and his leadership.
GANSO: Right. And I’m the next Zidane. That’s what all the AC Milan fans keep telling themselves, so it must be true.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: But…
GANSO: Besides, I’m not normally THAT slow. I was out for six months with a knee injury. Do you know how long it takes to come back from something like that? And almost as soon as I got back, I had a thigh injury. I was out another month. I’m coming off two major injuries in less than a year. How fast do you expect me to be? And that’s the reason why I had no mobility, and the reason I played so high up the pitch. I’m not in shape yet. I’m not fit yet. And I don’t want to get hurt again, not until I know I’m healed.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: You are making excuses. The fact is, we don’t know that your injuries played any part in your performance, whether from a physical perspective or a tactical one. We only have your word on it. Or Black Matt’s word, rather…
JUDGE: That’s out of line, Counselor! Don’t make me hold you in contempt of court.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: My apologies, Bla…I mean, ‘your honor.’
GANSO: Look, the fact is, I had TWO major injuries and I just barely came back from them. I only had time to play one match for my club, and then I’m being called to the national team after only playing for them once, almost a year ago? And not just the national team, but the Copa America, too! So I’m being asked to start and excel for a team I’ve barely ever played for, after barely playing at all for months and months, in an extremely prestigious and demanding tournament? And people are surprised that I didn’t do well? I still had three assists, you know, and I would have had more if Neymar hadn’t botched not one, but two different chances where he was 1v1 with the keeper.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: These are still excuses. The fact is, there are too many question marks about your game.
GANSO: Yeah well, there are also too many question marks about whether I was even ready to play in the Copa America or not. It’s not my fault Mano called me. What was I supposed to do, refuse?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: But what about all the times you misplaced a simple pass, or were easily dispossessed?
GANSO (hesitates): Okay, that was my bad.
Charges of the indictment:
- Made too many mistakes
- Will be too old by 2014
- Is too old now
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Lucio, why –
LUCIO: Hold on a second. Why am I here? What the hell is this?
JUDGE: You are on trial for the crime of –
LUCIO: I’m on trial? I’M on trial? Seriously? And who is going to declare me guilty? YOU?
JUDGE (wilting): I, uh…well, that is, I mean…
LUCIO: Come on, man. Be serious.
JUDGE: Defendant, do not make me hold you in contempt.
LUCIO (narrows his eyes): Don’t make me hold YOU in contempt.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY (quickly): Lucio, how would you characterize your performance in the Copa America?
LUCIO: I’d characterize it as pretty freaking terrible. I’d characterize it as complete bullshit. The team sucked.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, but what about YOUR performance?
LUCIO: I don’t understand. My performance? What does that mean?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: How do you think that YOU performed?
LUCIO: Like I said, we played like crap.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, but at this point, I’m not interested in the team, I’m interested in you.
LUCIO: There is only the team. Period. We all sucked, every one of us, one through eleven. It’s not about individuals, man. You play for the name on the front of the shirt, not on the back. My own performance? I have no idea. But WE played terrible and that is all that matters. And I’m a part of that. I’ve got nothing to prove anymore. I’ve proven everything. I’ve won just about every single damn thing that there is to win. And the only thing I care about is winning more. How do I think I played? I think WE sucked and WE have to do better.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So there are no individual moments that stand out?
LUCIO: Sure, maybe I made a couple mistakes. But who didn’t? Who hasn’t? I still worked my ass off. Isn’t that what counts?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So as to the charge that you will be too old in 2014?
LUCIO: Who wants to say that to my face? Who wants to come up to me in person and say, “Lucio, you are too old.” Who really wants to bet against me?
That’s what I thought.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have no further questions. Your witness.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Mr. Lucio, what about –
LUCIO (standing): Fuck this shit. I’m going on a run.
(Lucio runs out of the courtroom, knocking the prosecutor over on his way out. Doors close to thunderous applause.)
Charges of the indictment:
- Is not a proper center forward
(Throngs of adoring women fill the courtroom, tossing flowers, kisses, phone numbers)
JUDGE: Order! Order in the court! (Bangs gavel)
JUDGE: Order! Order in the court! I will have order! (Bangs gavel harder)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alexandre, what position do you play?
PATO: I’m sorry?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What position do you play? Are you a winger, a second striker, a center forward? Would you work best in a traditional 4-4-2, playing in a strike partnership?
PATO: I mean, at this point I have no idea. Nobody does.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You were asked to play as a central forward for Brazil, were you not?
PATO: I was.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And whose idea was what? Mano?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And what was his reasoning?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Objection!
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I’ll restate. What were his reasons as expressed to you?
PATO: Well, he said I was the next Ronaldo. Over and over, he said that.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The next Ronaldo. Let the record show that we are talking about the real Ronaldo.
COURT STENOGRAPHER: (Types frantically)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He also said you played less like Careca now, did he not?
PATO (uncomfortably): Yes, I think he said that.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Your honor, this is ridiculous. First it’s Ronaldo, then it’s Careca…might we actually get to the point of this trial, which is Pato?
JUDGE: Move it along, Counselor.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Your honor. The point is, no one knows really who you play like, do they?
PATO: I play like myself. Like Pato.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, of course. But what does Pato like to play?
PATO: You’d have to ask Barbara.
(Crowd whistles, titters)
JUDGE: Order! Order!
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alexandre, what position do you play for Milan?
PATO: Well, it depends. Is Ibra playing with me?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let’s say that he is.
PATO: Well, I could be playing as a second striker. Or sometimes they make me play as a right winger. Or sometimes it’s no position at all, and Ibra and I just scream for the ball and do our best to ignore each other.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I see. And if Ibra is not playing?
PATO: Well, then I’d probably play as a center forward, if Cassano is starting.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And if it’s Robinho, with both Cassano and Ibra on the bench?
PATO: Then I would probably play alongside Robinho, with Boateng on my right.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So basically what you are saying is, you can play in multiple ways, is that right?
PATO: I guess.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But you are not strictly suited for one way over the other. You have both qualities and flaws inherent in every position. These qualities and flaws might change, depending on where exactly you play, but you still have them.
PATO: Sure, I guess.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And these qualities or flaws can be magnified or decreased depending on who is around you, correct?
PATO: Yes. Like, with Robinho, I know I’m going to get a lot of rebounds because he misses EVERYTHING. And with Cassano, I can really use my first touch to get space to score because he is good at slipping in through-balls. And with Ibra, I know I can use my speed because everyone just starts booting the ball long and Ibra and I have to race each other for it.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alexandre, how old are you?
PATO: I am 21.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That’s a very young age. An age where most people are still figuring out who they are. Are you still trying to figure out who you are, Pato?
PATO: I think so.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And in Milan, are Robinho, Cassano and Ibra trying to figure out who they are?
PATO: No, they know exactly who they are. Robinho likes to miss chances. Cassano likes to move as little as possible and make a fool out of himself. Ibra likes to be an asshole.
(Commotion in the audience. Goal.com writer seen leaving the courtroom in a hurry)
JUDGE: Order! Order!
PATO: Um…I mean…crap. What I mean to say is, “I have no problems playing with Ibra. I am willing to do my best for Milan. Ibra is a wonderful player and I have no problems with him at all. We have an excellent misunderstanding.”
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You mean, you have an excellent understanding.
PATO: That is what I said.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your Honor, I move for these last three responses to be stricken from the record.
(More commotion. Second Goal.com writer seen leaving the courtroom, probably to write an article completely contradictory to the first)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alexandre, do you think Neymar and Ganso are still trying to figure out who they are?
PATO: Probably. They are even younger than me.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So in Milan, you have no set way of playing, but are playing with players much more experienced than yourself. But for Brazil, you are expected to play one single way alongside players who are as inexperienced – if not more so – as yourself. Is that right?
PATO: That’s right.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, while it would be fair to criticize your performance in the Copa America, it would not be fair to come to any conclusion as to whether you are good enough for the national team?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No further questions.
Charges of the indictment:
- Didn’t lead the team to a trophy
- Didn’t score a goal in every game
- Missed chances
- Horrible hair
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Before we begin, Neymar would like to say something.
NEYMAR: I would just like to announce that I’ve chosen to go to Real Madrid.
(Courtroom erupts. Judge fails to call order. He is too busy refreshing Goal.com for the latest news on this stunning development)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What? That’s not what you told me. You said you were staying at Santos.
NEYMAR: Did I? Oh. I guess I’ll do that, then.
(JUDGE FRANTICALLY TRYING TO UPDATE TWITTER)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So –
NEYMAR: Hold on. Getting a text message. (Looks at phone.) Huh. It looks like Manchester City just said they will outbid every other club in the world to get me.
DANI ALVES (rising in the audience): You jerk! You told me you were coming to Barcelona!
PELE (appearing from nowhere): You told me you were staying at Santos!
LEONARDO (rushing in): Wait, Neymar, wait! Come to Paris St. Germain!
ROBERTO CARLOS (rushing in): Wait, Neymar, wait! Come to whoever I’m playing for in Russia!
GANSO (rising): I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be joining AC Milan in January!
ADRIANO GALLIANI (via conference call): I can neither confirm nor deny this!
MURICY RAMALHO: Everybody sit the hell down! Enough distractions! Why can’t my players just play in peace?
JUDGE: Order! Order! Order! Order!
BRAZIL WORLD CUP BLOG READER: What the hell is happening to this article?
JUDGE: I don’t know! They all just started taking over! Er…what I mean is…ORDER! ORDER! ORDER!
TELE SANTANA (from the grave): JOOOOOGGGGGOOOOO BBBBBBOOOOONNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTOOOOOOOOOOO……
(The prophet has spoken. Commotion subsides. Order is restored.)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Now, Neymar, how old are you?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Is that the normal age for a player to be handed over the reins to a national team?
NEYMAR: I doubt it.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And even if it were, is that the normal age for a player to be expected to lead his team to an international championship?
NEYMAR: Probably not.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your witness.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: My “learned colleague” is obviously trying to drum up sympathy for the defendant. A most amusing and transparent tactic. But we who are not blinded by fan love know that Neymar’s age, while certainly young, is not without precedent.
JUDGE (rumbles angrily): Careful, Counselor. That’s one of my favorite players you are talking about. Where are you going with this?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Apologies, Your Honor, this will only take a moment. Mr. Neymar, how old was Pele when he won the 1958 World Cup?
PELE (rising): How old was Maradona when he won his first World Cup? Answer me that!
(No one listens)
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: And how old was Ronaldo when he won his first World Player of the Year award?
NEYMAR: I think he was 20.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Thank you. I have no further questions.
(Murmurs in the audience at this damning, damning evidence)
DEFENSE ATTORNEY (rising quickly): My “learned friend” the prosecution is known for making defendants state the obvious. I’ll do the same. Neymar, who was the greatest player to ever play the game?
PELE: Damn right.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If you were to rank Ronaldo among all the Brazilian players that have ever played, where would you put him?
NEYMAR (tactfully): Second or third. All the old-timers say Garrincha was something else.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We’ll say second, then. So then, ladies and gentlemen, are we really expecting this young man to be held to the standard of the two greatest players Brazil has ever known? Not even Zico was held to such a standard. Not even Romario. The defense rests.
JUDGE: Re-cross exam?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Mr. Neymar, what is your current market value?
NEYMAR: $30 million.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: $30 million. Is it not fair that, for a man worth $30 million dollars, that the Brazilian public should have the right to expect more than a brace against Ecuador? To expect more than a quarterfinal defeat against Paraguay?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY (rising): Going back to the age issue…
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Hold on –
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Pele and Ronaldo may indeed have been extremely young players who led their teams to greatness, but also consider the players they had around them. Pele had Didi, already a legend with vast experience, not to mention Garrincha. Ronaldo may have been young when he first started scoring for the Seleção, but he partnered with Romario in ’97 and with Bebeto in ’98. Neymar played alongside Ganso and Pato, two other youngsters. He had no experienced legend to help take some of the burden off of him. Only Robinho, who, let us be frank, is not the stuff of legends.
BRAZIL WORLD CUP BLOG READERSHIP: Amen!
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Your Honor, this is outrageous! The defense is making a mockery of this article! He is making what amounts to a closing statement!
JUDGE (checks word count): You know, we’re over 4,000 words. We really should start winding this down…
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Excuse me, Your Honor, but I’m on re-re-direct. Neymar, what was Lionel Messi’s tournament like?
NEYMAR: 3 assists, no goals, lost to Uruguay in the quarterfinal.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And what was Falcao’s tournament like?
NEYMAR: 2 goals, lost to Peru in the quarterfinals.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And, say…Diego Forlan?
NEYMAR: He had 2 goals, though both were in the final. Before that he missed an embarrassing amount of chances.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So it would be fair to say that you had no worse a tournament than many other of the leading lights, all with more experience than yourself?
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY (interrupting): But regardless of how others performed, or how old Neymar is, or who he’s playing with, none of that excuses his misses. He had numerous opportunities to score, some golden, where the only person he had to rely on was himself. And too often he came up short.
JUDGE: Alright, I’ve heard enough. It’s time for my summation.
There’s no doubt that the five defendants all had poor tournaments, especially by their lofty standards. But there are two traps when rating a player, and most of us, as fans, fall into one of these traps all the time. We are constantly having to ask ourselves not only what a player has done but what a player can do. Those who focus on the latter often neglect the former. We talk ourselves into thinking that a player had a good performance when in reality they didn’t, by only focusing on the good moments, since these good moments are somehow “proof” of the player’s quality, and justification for our liking them. Or else we look at stats, which can often be deceiving. After all, saying a player had 3 assists in 4 games, or 2 goals in 4 games, sounds impressive, but those who actually watched know otherwise.
The opposite trap is focusing on what the player has done over what the player can do. When a player puts in a poor performance, especially in a tournament setting, it tends to sour our opinion of that player, sometimes irreparably. But often there are extenuating circumstances that must be considered when judging whether a player should be called up again, when deciding whether a player has what it takes to win. No amount of rationalizing can hide the fact that Ganso, Neymar, Pato, Ganso and Lucio had poor tournaments. But neither should a poor tournament obscure the fact that Ganso, Neymar and Pato are extremely young playing with other extremely young players, and in Ganso and Neymar’s case are being expected to lead the most storied national team in the world to victory on their very first try. Or that Ganso is coming off two major injuries. Furthermore, a poor tournament, even by a veteran such as Dani Alves, should not make us forget what a player has done in the past. True, the right back’s performance was of extremely low quality. Almost nothing good can be said about it. But that should not diminish his past performances, which were usually very high, nor should we forget the long road that got him here and the toll that road can take on him.
It is true that a consistent run of poor performances, over an extended period of time, should be given far more weight than the brief flashes of genius we are occasionally privy to. But to my mind none of the accused have displayed a consistent run of poor performances.
So why should not all players be given such latitude, you ask? To that I answer, Player A should not be given as many chances as Player B, if Player A does not have at least one single attribute that stands head and shoulders above the rest. For Player B to be given numerous opportunities, he must demonstrate at least one characteristic – be it passing, dribbling, scoring, tackling, work ethic, intelligence – that Player A cannot provide. Simply being “good” is not good enough. This is why, say, an Andre Santos does not belong on the national team, or why a Jadson does not belong on the national team. These are men of a certain level of ability, but they do not offer anything special that cannot be found in half a dozen other players. A Ganso or a Pato or a Neymar, however, have given us glimpses at something far more unique, and this is why we not only heap far greater expectations on them, but why we must afford them a greater level of tolerance.
Again, there is no doubt that the Copa America was a poor tournament filled with poor performances. But that does not mean all the players themselves are poor, and we should take care that judgments should not be made to hastily. For judgments made in the disappointment of defeat are as likely to be unsound as judgments made in the temporary euphoria of victory.
This is why I find all five players to be NOT GUILTY on all accounts of the indictment save where their hairstyles are concerned. These players are to be granted their immediate freedom, with the caveat that all five are to be placed under a period of strict observation so that we may know in due course whether the mercies tendered by the court were, in fact, justified.
This court is now adjourned.