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I am looking for an equivalent of a Chinese saying "If there are no great generals left in Shu, Liao Hua (a military general of Shu) will be the vanguard."

It can be interpreted as "the state of Shu lacked great talents and new blood so that they had to let the elderly Liao Hua to fight in the vanguard". It is basically a situation where an unfit person is forced into a job because no one suitable can be found.

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    You could say, "we make do with what we have" but I don't think I'd call it an idiom, and not necessarily about only people. – user353675 Nov 30 '19 at 5:29
  • You could say "We had to take Hobson's choice". – WS2 Nov 30 '19 at 8:37
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    Possible duplicate of English equivalent of a Malayalam saying "In the land where no one has a nose, the broken-nosed one is the king" (where 'In the land of the blind ...' from Erasmus, and 'a big fish in a small pond' are given. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '19 at 17:08
  • @Edwin Ashworth Neither of those fit exactly. It isn't about one only one mediocre person being around amongst many totally inept people; many mediocre people may be available, it's just that no extraordinary people are around. And a big fish is an at least somewhat extraordinary person, around some ordinary folk. – user353675 Dec 1 '19 at 0:52
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    The French expression faute de mieux can be used here. – Global Charm Dec 3 '19 at 4:12
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“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

This is of great vintage and its similarity to that in the question should be self-evident, although it is not exactly equivalent.

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  • Thank you for your answer. I agree that it is not exactly equivalent, but I think this is the closest one I got so far :) – user2194027 Dec 1 '19 at 8:55

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