After tormenting the world’s defences for many years, and then tormenting fast food joints and his own body for many years after that, and then tormenting hospitals for a few years too, Diego Maradonna is now about to torment opposition coaches, referees, and probably his own players, as manager of the Argentinian national team (he’s already had a bit of a fall out with their FA over coaching staff).
All in all, I reckon it’s a very interesting decision to appoint him. Aside from two brief and unsuccessful stints as a coach at Mandiyu and Racing Club, he hasn’t really shown much interest in getting involved in the tactical side of the game at all. Not that he’s ever strayed far from the football world, always quick to have an opinion on whatever issue is being discussed at the time, and of course assessing each new Argentinian to be labelled as the ‘new Maradonna’ as inferior to himself (except Messi I think).
So why appoint him? Well, the main reason I think, is because he publicly declared himself as a candidate for the job, and, due to his legendary status in football in general and especially the idolisation he receives in his own country in particular, the Argentinian FA would have been very unpopular indeed had they not taken him up on his ‘kind’ offer. You can’t just say no to the greatest (or second greatest, you decide) player who ever lived.
But despite the fact that I don’t see Maradonna as the greatest tactician ever (or even a tactician at all) and the fact that the AFA probably just crumbled to public will in his appointment, I do think he will be a success. And this is mainly because of his passion for the game, and his obvious patriotism and enthusiasm. As I said, he has always been in and around the football limelight, and it’s clear that he lives and breathes the game just like the rest of us.
And when you have a side as talented as Argentina do, and especially one that is so young and without too much experience, there isn’t a great deal that needs to be organised. To me international management isn;t about tactics, the format just doesn’t suit it. A get together every couple of months just doesn’t let a manager craft a perfectly functioning tactical masterpiece. No, I think the key to international management is to bring a group of players together, get them fighting for one cause, pulling in the same direction. They already have the talent and the skill, the international manager just needs to harness and direct it.
And Maradonna can do that. He is Argentinian football’s greatest icon. He won them the world cup single-handedly (pun definitely intended). So if any man can inspire Argentina’s current squad to be world beaters it is him. He has such a great passion for the game, he has the experience and he has the authority. In essence, Diego Maradonna could be set to inspire Argentina to another world cup.
So while I hardly think he will be marching into the dressing room with ‘the Tactics board of God’, he will be walking in there with the experience and inspiration to be a truly great manager, more a motivator, for what is already a supremely talented squad. Argentina will, I think, be a force to be reckoned with come the World Cup in 2010, the only thing with Diego is, you never quite know what is going to happen next, and I for one wouldn’t bet on him behaving himself long enough to still be in the job come the World Cup. Argentina fans might want to hope he is though, as I think Diego Maradonna could be The Creator of a world-beating side.