At an early point in our lives, we were snubbed, repeatedly, by the prettiest girl in the school, the second prettiest, third prettiest, all the way down to… well, you get the picture: Getting a date to the big dance was outside our control, so we can relate to the way Jamie Maclaren must feel upon learning that he will not be attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament as a member of the Australian national side.
We recently reported that Maclaren’s prospects were excellent after he scored three goals for his Hibs side in a match with the Rangers, but as it turns out, his hat trick was in response to his notification that he would be omitted.
That display of strong character is rare in the modern times of privileged elite athletes and it shows that if Maclaren feels anything along the lines of satisfaction when the Socceroos are thrashed by France in their first Group stage match in Russia, he will keep it to himself.
On balance, it could be argued that Maclaren has fared poorly in the past while playing for the national team, that he lacks the sort of game that raises the level of the others and that the Scottish Premier League lacks the sort of competition that qualifies a player for the World Cup crucible, but on the other side of the equation, it could be argued that Maclaren deserves to be in Russia at least as much as Tim Cahill, who would have to be considered a legacy pick, based on his dearth of playing time.
In the final analysis, the reality is that 23 can go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, but the pool of potential players is much larger and the final choices often come down to the objectivity of a coin flip or the subjectivity of a selector’s intuition.