Luis Ojea: False dilemmas


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Bilardo or Menotti. With the permission of the Simeone, Bielsa or Bianchi, the truth is that Argentine football is still entangled in the old dilemma. The ‘Doctor’ and the ‘Flaco’ represent two irreconcilable styles, two opposite ways of approaching the parties and even of understanding life. One cares about winning and the other prioritizes form. One believes that you have to recover and attack immediately and the other defends having the ball to dominate the game. Water and oil. In their careers – first as players and later as coaches – they faced each other directly on very few occasions, but in the media they fought a thousand times during the last four decades. They are incompatible philosophies. Already in their 80s and long retired, both are still

symbolizing two football models. Even today, despite flourishing third ways, fans in Buenos Aires enjoy arguing which of the two was correct in their approaches. The old dilemma lives on.

Because, indeed, there is a real dilemma there. Not like the false dilemmas that arise in the Galician left. For example, the fight between Caballero and Formoso in the PSdeG primaries. Over the next month they will endeavor to highlight the differences that separate them, but deep down they both belong to the same school. And they share the same original sin, their obedience to Ferraz. One has spent four years reproducing the speech given to him by Pedro Sánchez’s plumbers and the other, although now he intends to recriminate it, he will do the same if he wins.

That is the drama of Galician socialism, which, from a failed leadership like Gonzalo Caballero’s, only seems to be able to aspire to pass another equally captive. Valentín González Formoso was busy this week to stage that no, that his candidacy implies a change of coordinates. That the PSdeG would go on the attack (“I am not resigned to being the third force”), that he is the candidate of the bases (despite having the support of important baronies and it even seems that the blessing of Ferraz) and that his style is different (“denying the evidence does not help to regain credibility”). Yes, it is true that the mayor of As Pontes is a more realistic, pragmatic and consistent politician than the current secretary general of the Galician PSOE, but it is also true that both, although with different forms, share the same doctrine, preach the same catechism and they assume the same vow of obedience (“a party that helps Pedro Sánchez”).

The dilemma of the socialist primaries will be settled on the terrain of tones, nuances and differentiated personalities of both candidates, but it is not a crossroads of antithetical sensibilities at the height of the old discussion between bilardism and menottism. Yes, one may play harder than the other (the letter in the summer of José Antonio Quiroga against Formoso and Besteiro or the accusation of inflation of the census in As Pontes dismantled by Ferraz) and that the other considers a more open tactic («open windows “,” flee from Caesarism “,” without sectarianism, “that represents all progressives”) but at the beginning and at the end both are and want to be standard-bearers of the same school, sanchismo.

In that dimension, regardless of the nuances – important, but nuances – that separate Caballero and Formoso, the crossroads of the PSdeG primaries is as unreal in essence as the one that socialists and nationalists strive to stage daily in Parliament. In each debate or in the control sessions they often cross reproaches and accusations (this week they have done it again), but the truth is that they continue to govern together in all the places where it is possible for them. Even when, like these days in Lugo, they show an absolute lack of harmony in the most basic aspects. In both cases, they are only apparent trade-offs. False dilemmas. A real dilemma is the one that Argentine fans continue to experience forty years later when facing Bilardo and Menotti in their discussions.

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