Thomas Bjorn hopeful 12 will become one at Ryder Cup as Europe prepares to face USA's frat pack

Bjorn, 46, has 21 professional wins as a golfer himself. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Times change. In 1971, the year of Thomas Bjorn's birth, Great Britain and Ireland captain Eric Brown led a singsong on the plane home from the Ryder Cup. The cause for celebration? A five point defeat, the "closest" the visitors had ever come to an away victory.

Forty-seven years later the Dane completed his European team line-up for a match which will take place in Paris and, if anything, geography is the factor that has changed the least over these five decades.

Bjorn's wildcards were handed to Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, four men who have never had cause to rejoice in failure. In contrast, each of them has contributed to Europe's 21st century dominance of the Ryder Cup.

Perhaps even more remarkable is how carefree supporters have become with this wealth of successful experience. Far from it being a comfort to many fans, it was swiftly deemed somewhat controversial.

The fact that Matt Wallace, in particular, was overlooked caused outrage on Twitter as fans argued that the 28-year-old Englishman's daring last minute bid to force Bjorn's hand (thrashing seven birdies in his final eight holes last Sunday in Denmark, to complete a fourth win in just 15 months) had been heedlessly spurned in favour of the misfiring Spanish veteran.

Imagine telling British and Irish Ryder Cup fans of the early 1970s that a major champion who had compiled 22.5 points when contributing to five Ryder Cup victories would one day be deemed expendable.

Times really have changed and Bjorn knew it. Team news was once revealed in the following morning's newspapers. This week his picks were leaked and social media was immediately abuzz.

When the television cameras began to roll on Wednesday afternoon Bjorn's initial hesitancy hinted that he knew of the growing unease. Perhaps memories of having to phone the unlucky candidates were also playing on his mind. He admitted they had been the toughest aspect of his role so far and he had been "sick to my stomach".

But the minute he started to argue the case of those he had promoted the Dane quickly grew in confidence and on the subject of Garcia, Poulter and Stenson he was particularly bullish.

"Sergio is the heartbeat of the team," he said of his most contentious pick. "People who have experienced Sergio around the team room know that. He makes everyone around him better. I have watched him as a player and also as a vice captain. It's not just about what he brings on the golf course, it's what he brings off the golf course."

This theme was maintained when he discussed Poulter, the one wildcard who absolutely no-one doubted would be in Paris.

"When he won in Houston I knew he was on track," Bjorn said. "I met him at the parking lot in Augusta and he told me he was going to make the team. Both him and Sergio, they maybe should have been footballers because they love team sport and that's what they bring to the Ryder Cup. Winning golf tournaments is important, but frame of mind is vital and Ian does it probably better than anyone else. His drive and motivation are out of this world."

Stenson's qualities were similarly praised: "The stature he brings to the team room is enormous. He's just a really, really good guy to have around."

Five rookies qualified by right and Bjorn's wildcard intentions were becoming clearer by the second. The experience he seeks to blend with them is distinct. He wants those newcomers to look across the team room and be energised by characters who not only burn with desire themselves, but who demand and inspire it in others.

"This is probably the best set of rookies we've had," he said. "But they are still new to the environment and I've been in that situation. You don't only turn to your captain when that happens, the players turn to each other so I need guys I know can fulfil that role.

"Look at Sergio. He makes everyone around him better. I think, and I truly believe, that if we are to beat this American team those are the people we need.

"Sergio is the one who delivers a rallying cry to the troops on the eve of the match. He's the one who stands up on a Saturday night if you are leading by four shots and reminds everyone that the job isn't done yet.

"People tend to just judge a player's suitability [for a wildcard] on performance alone and that's understandable because it is easy to measure. But Padraig Harrington explains it best: It's not about picking the best players, it's about picking the best team."

What everyone agrees is that the European team will need to be at their very finest because the American team is a powerhouse. Nine of the eleven players already confirmed are major championship winners. Few would be surprised if by the end of their careers Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau, the odd men out, have joined them.

Is this fear quite so straightforward however? How quickly we forget that the renaissance of the Ryder Cup post-1983 has been built upon a plucky band of underdogs uniting to defeat their supposed betters. It is the strength the continent has boasted of.

American domination of the majors this year (Brooks Koepka has won two of them, Patrick Reed another, only Francesco Molinari has halted the flow) is supposed to offer further proof of Europe's troubles yet history actually suggests otherwise.

Since and including the 1985 match the major scoreline for that year has indeed predicted the result 11 times out of 16, yet the it is the "loser" who has gone on to claim Ryder Cup success not the "winner".

It is a statistic Bjorn would appreciate, a reminder that this match is about more than 12 individuals.

"You need to make the team work," he asserted. "Europe is about the whole team and always has been. Twelve players, our wives, our caddies, the backroom team, the European Tour. Everybody we are, we are behind this team and we do it together."

And then he sat back. Two days of tension were at an end. His team was complete and he was satisfied with his decisions. Many will continue to disagree with them, but a modern captain is inundated with information so the coherence of his strategy was striking: He will take on Team USA's frat pack with contagious youth and energetic experience.

"I've always said it," he concluded. "12 becomes one. Achieving that is what will make this team successful."