It makes little difference which players were named or left off national teams’ provisional roster for the 2010 World Cup.
There was always going to be two managers who would be at a different level of pressure with their selections and their nations’ expectations.
It was always going to be about England’s Fabio Capello and Brazil’s Dunga.
Yes, there are 30 other managers out there all of whom have their own issues and pressures going into the tournament.
Why would Capello and Dunga stand out among all the other managers who must answer to their football mad countries?
What about Italy’s Marcello Lippi, the winner of the 2006 World Cup, or Argentina’s Diego Maradona or France’s Raymond Domenech or Spain’s Vincente del Bosque? They all face enormous pressures.
Indeed they do and if their teams do poorly, they will all pay a price. But Lippi ignored calls to make his squad younger and quicker and did what everyone expected ... he named many of his old standby players in the hope they had one more good tournament in their legs.
Domenech has nothing to lose. He knows that anything less than an outstanding World Cup will leave him looking for work. He too did the expected and opted for some strange choices that have earned him the appropriate handle of the Absent-Minded Professor.
Maradona has made himself a coaching legend in his own mind and did the expected. He named a bizarre squad, leaving out battled-hardened and still serviceable veterans for some of his personal favourites. It has earned him the appropriate handle of simply The Absent Mind.
Del Bosque didn’t have the same challenges. His squad almost picked itself and while he faces pressure to win what happens is almost out of his control.
But Capello and Dunga are in a different category.
Capello has inflated the expectation of a nation that has been starved for World Cup success. Anything less than a visit to the final is going to be considered a failure. England will be one of the most closely watched nations in South Africa.
Capello continues to wave the magic wand with this team. His provisional roster shows Capello’s ability to select on merit and chemistry. His inclusion of Manchester City’s Adam Johnson was necessary. England fans should pray he makes the final roster. Tottenham’s Ledley King was a must, despite injury problems.
Both are the type of players England has needed in the past but didn’t name.
But with all this anticipation comes enormous pressure on his team.
Dunga has stepped away from the Samba-rhythm, free-flow football Brazil is known for.
His team has become pragmatic. The so-called magic square of Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka in 2006 is down to only the Magic Corner, Kaka, and even that has not shown much magic of late.
There is no young Neymar or Pato.
Instead, Brazil and Dunga will rely on goaltending and defence to win this World Cup with Julio Cesar in net, Maicon, Daniel Alves, Lucio and Thiago Silva on the backline. Dunga has pinned his hopes up front on the inconsistent foursome of Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Nilmar and Grafite.
Not surprisingly, the debate is raging in Brazil about Dunga’s selection. Brazil is a nation that knows it must lose occasionally and is willing to accept it only if the loss comes with the flamboyant style of play that is Brazilian football. Win and everything is forgotten
Brazil and England, two countries who come from very different places when it comes to World Cup success but whose managers share the same boiling cauldron of a nation’s expectations.