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Dunga shows way to Maradona

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Tim Vickery | 08:00 UK time, Monday, 14 September 2009

Dunga and Diego Maradona - two World Cup winners as players, who are going through contrasting fortunes as novice coaches.

Dunga has steered Brazil through to World Cup qualification with matches in hand, and has picked up the Copa America and the Confederations Cup along the way. Maradona, meanwhile, is sitting in the hot seat with his Argentina in danger of missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1970.

So why has one of them taken so easily to coaching and the other is floundering?

Of course, in one important sense this is an absurd comparison. Dunga has had far more time to get his feet under the table. Maradona took over with Argentina already in trouble in their 2010 qualification bid. As I pointed out in last week's blog, his predecessor Alfio Basile resigned after a run of one win in seven games, with fixtures easier than those Maradona has had to face.

Diego Maradona and DungaMaradona shakes hands with Dunga before the World Cup qualifier in Rosario

Dunga, meanwhile, was appointed straight after the last World Cup, and enjoyed nearly a full year of experiments before his first competitive game. Maradona was thrown in at the deep end, while Dunga could pick up momentum from the shallow.

Dunga has also enjoyed a couple of key moments of luck. The first was in the 2007 Copa America semi-final when Uruguay's Pablo Garcia struck his kick against the inside of the post in the penalty shoot-out. Had it gone in Brazil would have been eliminated and Dunga may well have fallen.

As it was they stayed in, went on to win the shoot-out and came home in glory after beating Argentina 3-0 in the final.

Just over a year later, though, the scores were reversed when the two great South American rivals met in the Olympic semi-final. Brazil were having a bad time in World Cup qualifying and it was widely felt that only by winning the elusive gold medal could Dunga survive.

But the next rounds of qualifiers came so soon after the Olympics that there would have been no time to bring someone else in. Dunga was given another life, and took full advantage.

Perhaps in comparison with Maradona, Dunga's greatest stroke of luck is that he can count on a goalkeeper like Julio Cesar and a centre-back like Lucio. Argentina have nothing similar. It has been years since they produced a world class goalkeeper, and since the international retirement of Roberto Ayala they have a glaring lack of a top-class centre-back.

Not conceding goals increases the coach's margin of error and serves as an excellent confidence booster. Time and time again Dunga has had cause to thank his two defensive giants.

Some five months ago Argentina went down 6-1 to Bolivia at the altitude of La Paz. Brazil's trip to the highlands to face Ecuador a few days earlier could have been equally humiliating. The entire game seemed to be played in their penalty area but Julio Cesar stood tall and Brazil came away with a point.

Putting all of Dunga's success down to luck is clearly a nonsense. A long unbeaten run like the one his side have put together is clearly the result of competence and commitment. Perhaps, with time and the odd favourable wind, Maradona will be able to do something similar.

But there is an important difference between the two men. Maradona has been told that he is something special ever since he was an adolescent. Dunga has grown accustomed to hearing exactly the reverse.

The holding midfielder at the 1990 World Cup, Dunga was pilloried and held up as a symbol of the limitations of failed team. He gritted his teeth and developed his game. Recognising that he had grown too comfortable in the position of ball winner, he worked hard at improving his passing until he became the key link between defence and attack in the side that came out on top in USA '94.

As he held the trophy aloft as the World Cup-winning captain, he had some choice words for those who had written him and the team off.

Dunga lifts the World Cup in 1994Dunga lifts the World Cup after Brazil's win over Italy in 1994

This seems typical of the man. Named after 'Dopey' from 'Snow White', his nickname has always struck me as right film wrong dwarf. 'Angry' might be more appropriate, or perhaps 'Downright Truculent.' He stomps his way through life seemingly fuelled by the desire to shove it back in the faces of all his detractors.

That is the spirit he has taken into the job as Brazil coach. Boo him, call for his sacking, criticise his team selections, dislike his team's style of play - millions can do it and it won't change his course by an inch. He'll keep doing it his way, come what may.

Such strength of conviction helps explain why Dunga qualified Brazil for the World Cup using 36 players in 15 matches. In his six rounds in charge, Maradona has already used 30 - with more changes likely.

Early in his reign, Dunga said that one of the most difficult aspects of making the switch from player to coach was acquiring patience. This, for Maradona is almost certainly even harder. Firstly, he was clearly the far better player, secondly he is a man who seems to run on emotion.

In his box at Boca Juniors' stadium, if he wanted to take his shirt off and swirl it round as he led the chanting, then off it came, caught up in the emotion of the moment.

As a player Maradona was a great strategist, but his game was undoubtedly aided by the capacity to channel his emotion into physical activity. As a coach he can't do this. So what does he do? He changes the side - three goalkeepers in six games, strange substitutions, some players selected on emotional grounds, either because he seems too close to them or the consequence of a nationalist folly that home-based players will give more for the cause.

All these changes are not leaving him any closer to having a team. It might be different in South Africa when he will have to restrict himself to a squad of 23. But first he has to get there.

Comments in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

In all the excitement of World Cup qualification, last week I forgot to give out the e-mail address - and while I got some great comments, I didn't get questions in. Normal service should be restored next week.


  • Comment number 1.

    i think Argentina will qualify and be at the world cup - even despite their current "difficult" situation.

    Maradonna was also an "alledged" huge drug addict and alcoholic... i don't know if that has helped him... whilst he was a genius as a player he is clearly a man who has a weak character... and that is where he ultimately will fail in the same way that people like Keegan have in the past - at the top level of sport it is the string characters who do well in management

  • Comment number 2.

    I can understand why a lot of people of having a go at Maradona but in reality what can he do.

    A proven coach had a terrible (an even worse time than him) before leaving and Maradona replacing him. At worst Maradona has merely continued the form as before. The reason i think he was appointed was to get the players to start playing with passion - to stand up and be counted.

    However, at what point will people stop blaming the coach and start questioning the players. Whilst there have been some questionable selection decisions, Maradonas team is pretty similar to what most people would pick and should be more than good enough to get favourable results in the majority of games they play.

    I think a major problem Argentina have is that a large number of their quality players over the last few years have had/developed major injury problems that has severely limited their playing time and also a significant number of them have been willing to play bit part roles at clubs rather than making a move in an aim to prove themselves. This has most probably hurt Argentina's prospects more than anything else.

    Anyway i was wondering your opinion on that - are there other factors involved?

  • Comment number 3.

    It was clearly an insane emotianally driven decision to appoint Maradona (note correct spelling) as national coach. His previous managerial experience is laughable compared to the many talented Argentine managers around the world. It's hard to blame the man himself, a man with an ego the size of his would never have turned down the position, even though it seems obvious to anyone that he is unqualified for the job. Argentina are in real danger of missing the World Cup, despite having a multi-talented squad incuding Messi (undisputably the best player in the world). The team seem to be playing without passion and commitment, Maradona is seen to unfairly favour particular players damaging the dynamic of the team to squeeze in his favoured players and exclude other against which he holds personal grudges. The responsibility for this mess lies with AFA for making such an ill advised appointment in the first place.

  • Comment number 4.

    The fact Dunga is doing better than Maradona might be something to do with the fact Dunga was a leader of men when captain of a workmanlike World Cup-winning Brazil back in 1994 whereas Maradona was (allegedly..!) a narcissistic, cocaine-snorting nutcase. The latter personality profile is unlikely to appear on many successful CVs other than in the world of professional football. Mind you Maradona is still the greatest footballer ever, so he does have that in his favour!

  • Comment number 5.

    To me, recovering from drug and alcohol related near death experiences to come back and take charge of one of the toughest, high pressure jobs in football indicates strong character, but there you go.

    I think the problem is a lack of experience. In England, coaches have to do these pro-licences before they can get a job. Is there anything like that in Argentina/South America, or are no qualifications necessary for the top jobs?


  • Comment number 6.

    It appears to be the classic case of a hugely talented player not being ablle to communicate with lesser players. Maradona has always found everything in football to be easy and cannot understand why others do not. He can perform but cannot explain how to perform.

    Dunga, as a player, had to work at his game, he had to understand how to improve. He can now explain to others what to do, clearly.

    Think of English players who have been outstanding on the field but not made it as coaches/managers - Boobby Moore, Bobby Charlton etc. It is not a given that a great player becomes a great coach.

    Maradona a great player who lacks insight into how to play the game. He could get a job as a pundit on TV?

  • Comment number 7.

    Maradona a great player who lacks insight into how to play the game. He could get a job as a pundit on TV?

    I'd have to disagree with that comment, as one of the many reasons maradona was the best footballer of all time, was not just his incredible technical ability with a football, but also as Tim mentiones a great strategist on the field. Maradona also possessed an incredible football brain as a player...

  • Comment number 8.

    Being from Argentina I just scratch my head and slam my table every time we gave up a goal and lost. Now I am getting tired of scratching my head and my hand has started to hurt from slamming the table because of the WCQ. We started 3/3 in our games in the WCQ. A perfect 100% margin. Then going to Colombia for a goo part of the game Argentina were doing well and went up with a beautiful 1-2 between Riquelme and Messi from a quick fk. Then Tevez gets red carded and Argentina end up losing 2-1. More bad signs started to show, when it took a LAST second goal from Rodrigo Palacio to save us from a 1-0 loss to Ecuador. If Argentina had dropped that game, right now that would of left us in the 6th spot right now because of GD with Uruguay. The game vs Brasil in Mineirão, Argentina could of won that game. They were by far the better squad but the game ended 0-0. Around this time the country wanted Dunga's head of a silver platter. Back to back draws vs Paraguay and Peru(which the Peru game they scored a last second goal). After beating Uruguay and getting another loss vs Chile it was time for Basile to go. Yes Mr.Vickery you are very much correct this team was not doing that great before Maradona came and took over. But lets face it, the team has been just horrible in the WCQ since then. Game after game, the team has looked smaller and smaller. No heart, nothing. Since the the last 2 rounds have ended, I have all but said qualifying for the WC seems a bit slim. Maradona right now is traveling to parts of Europe to exclude some players. Milito,Lisandro,Heinze,Gago,Maxi,Zanetti will all be excluded from the team. I understand Gago,Maxi and Heinze they have been horrible but Lisandro,Milito and Zanetti? I do not know. With those players gone, should we expect Higuain,Zarate,Insua(Emilio, and even Federico,Samuel,Garay,Cambiasso,Fazio,Gonzalo,Ustari,Aimar,Saviola,Crespo? Are those the players that are going to come in and save Argentina. Do not hold you breath. Maradona will not call those players. He has already stated he will use more home based players. Get ready to see more of Martin I missed 3 PK's in a single game Palermo and other players that should not even belong at the stadium let lone on the pitch for the game. Next few weeks we will learn a lot if Argentina are going to the WC or they will be sitting home and watching it.

  • Comment number 9.

    #4 - Maradona was (allegedly..!) a narcissistic, cocaine-snorting nutcase......
    Genius, thanks for that.....made my morning!
    This just all adds to the thing about great players not always making great managers. They're two completely different trades, they might have football in common but one seldom leads to the other.

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 - As a decidedly average midfielder from the northern leagues, I'd say Dunga was a great player, World Cup winning captain isn't a bad addition to any CV. A lot of great players do make great managers as well, just look at Capello, Cruyff, Guardiola, Clough et al. I guess the person's mentality and ability to manipulate situations with their tactical nous is key at the top level.

    To the Keegan detractor, he took 3 teams from the second division into the first, nearly won the league twice and had good runs in the European and UEFA Cups. I dare say most club football fans outside of the top 4 would be happy with that now?

  • Comment number 11.

    yes the comparison between managers is somewhat absurd, but not between the teams themselves given their WC history. I don't think how either was as a player affects those who play for them. They are world cup winners. It is not enough. Even if Argentina get through, they will be ripped apart by the better European sides I reckon, Germany, Spain Holland England.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a supporter of the team that gave the "Beautiful Game" to Brazil (Exeter City), I always feel a little proud to think that our humble little club helped one of the world's most famous and passionate footballing countries, on the road to success. Not bad for a team from Devon.

    Full marks for Tim for his column, and even more brownie points if he can give me the results from Exeter City's tour of Brazil, without heading for Google or Wikipedia!

  • Comment number 13.

    A good analysison Argies problems Tim.

    I tend not to agree with you on saying that argentina were struggling before with a different coach so its no surprise that they are still struggling, surely thats the reason they hired a new coach?

    Maradona's insistance to select sub standard players particually their centre back (whose name escapes me) when they have an inexperienced but hugely talented centreback in Garay who plays for real madrid.

    You cite the lack of defensive options for argentina, but they have quite clearly the best attacking line up overall of the whole group. Aguero, Messi, Tevez, Rodriquez. Not to mention Higuain if maradona called him up. Plus the vast experience of Veron and Zanetti and Mascherano,Gago and Cambassio in the midfield. Its takes a bad coach to cock all that up in my opinion.

    Its been nothing but a car crash since he took charge. Within a month of him taking over he was in dispute with the AFA over the back room staff, Riquilme said soon after he wouldn't play for Argentina again while Maradona was there. And then there are selections, he continues to play tevez when he's got more red cards than goals in qualifing, playing Aguero on the right against brazil, and constant tinkering of tactics.

    I think Maradona's got no excuses

  • Comment number 14.

    really feel sorry for Argentina and Maradona.

  • Comment number 15.

    A tough, hard-working, defender who played for the team takes to management better than a hugely talented but largely selfish, individualistic player - where's the surprise? Remember Pele's contribution to coaching tactic's in "Escape to Victory"? He takes his piece of chalk (or similar) to the board and sketches how you "just" run round all the other players.
    But chin up. Argentina. The ludicrous qualifying system in South America will see you through. If you come fifth out of ten, you are punished by a play-off against Costa-Rica!

  • Comment number 16.

    I think it's quite clear that Maradona just isn't good enough for the task of managing a top team in international football and should ply his trade at some smaller clubs first to get experience under his belt.
    The plight of Argentina is simply nothing to do with the players they have. Sure they don't have the strongest of goalies, but neither do England and look what's happened with our results, undoubtedly due to having a quality manager who knows what to do with the resources he has.
    The fact that with practicaly the same bunch of players, Steve McClaren failed miserably shows the importance of a good coach and highlights the dangers of employing someone inexperienced and under qualified for the role.
    UNfortunately Maradona just doesn't have it, and I find it hard to see him warranting respect from his players. He may be the greatest footballer to have lived, but as an individual character he was more of an Adebayor (An arrogant self obsessive loser) who not only cheated in the game, but became a crazy drug addict as well. How is anyone going to fully respect a man like that? Would America have voted for Barack if they knew he had been a heavy cocaine addict in his past? Shows good character to come back from it? Possibly, but not enough to command a nation's respect.
    I feel sorry for Argentina and somewhat Maradona, who as mentioned before has too big an ego to say he's not good enough for the role, and Argentina have too much at steak to admit they were wrong to have him as coach.
    Good luck argentina, I don't think you'll need it to qualify, even if they have to play the added qualification game by finishing 6th, they'll still make it, but I don't expect them to do well against some excellently managed teams from Europe.

  • Comment number 17.

    Tim, can you explain exactly why the Argentineans, who produce so many top class managers, chose Maradona in the first place? Basile was struggling, but was initially contracted on the back of unprecedented success with Boca Juniors so deserved his second chance at the helm. Pekerman had them playing the best football of any team at the 2006 World Cup. Sergio Batista led them to Olympic glory last year, beating Dunga's Brazil on the way. Gerardo Martino has already secured qualification for Paraguay, and Marcelo Bielsa is a win away from achieving the same with Chile. Ricardo La Volpe got Mexico playing very well at the last World Cup (indeed taking Argentina into extra time in the last 16). Yet they choose Maradona, with no coaching experience, and a history of cocaine addiction, indiscipline, and extreme bias towards Boca Juniors, as coach. I suppose if they don't qualify, then the blame will be entirely that of the Argentinean FA, who have made such a questionable choice as Maradona.

  • Comment number 18.

    Undoubtedly the team were struggling before he took over but appointing Maradona was never going to have a stabilising effect on the squad, as if the job weren't pressurised enough his actions and comments heap more pressure on himself: not content with merely questioning the playing surface at River and expressing his displeasure he goes one step further with his derogatory comments and observations, the River fans made reference to this with songs and chants at yesterday's game. His very public spat with Batista too.............oh and Diego's goatee.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just imagine that Paul Gascoigne was given the managers job instead of Capello. Do you really need any in depth analysis of events and decisions?

  • Comment number 20.

    Tim, Excellent article, as usual.
    I heard your thoughts on Maradona (1994 WC) on "World Cup Years" last week on 5Live.
    You examined the parallels between the QF campaigns/tournament finals in 1994 and 2010. Maradona was the saviour in 1994, until he was expelled from the tournament for taking banned substances (weight loss drugs).
    You suggested that in 1994 there was significant pressure put on Maradona by the Agrentine Football Federation and the Argentine media for him to be fit and ready, even though he was a couple of stone overweight and nowhere near match fit. Do you think that the AFA had a hand, or knew about his drug use?
    Do you consider that the expectation, pressure to succeed is greater in Argentina than it is, for example, in England?
    Do you think the media in Argentina is more critical in this respect?

  • Comment number 21.

    I think the timing of the appointment is certainly highly questionable and hasn't done Maradona any favours. On the face of it he does seem like an ideal candidate for the host of obvious reasons but I think if Argentine had the quality available then he'd be doing a better job.

    At the back they really are shorn of any real quality. Other teams know this and for all the quality possession and tidy play they are involved in further up the park teams also know how to defend against them and they are always open to losing easy goals at set pieces and on the counter attack.

    I fear for them as there is for me so much talent there that I want to see them make it to the WC finals but they are in serious trouble just now and I not sure there is a coach in the world that could form a solid defence out of the current lot.

    That said I wonder where Higuain features in managers thinking, looked very good for Real last season and is a bit different from the current underperforming small strikers currently ploughing away up front.

  • Comment number 22.

    Re: 6. At 10:01am on 14 Sep 2009, beckenhamred:

    Your comment regarding the ability of someone so talented not understanding how others do not match up has been brought up before. In Bobby Charlton's excellent biography on his United Years he said a very similar thing in that he found football incredibly easy and could not understand why others did not. This may explain why he too had a mediocre managerial career but has excelled as a ambassador.

    Nothing to do with strength of character in this case but just that lack of ability to transfer knowledge, experience and develop the right tactics for the group of players available.

    I don't think Maradona is cut out to manage. Dunga is.

  • Comment number 23.

    Maradonna was appointed because the national team needed a legend to try ot inspire a team of rather average players. With the odd exception, Argentina are a poor squad bt their normal standards.

    I think he'll drag them through though, just - snd it'll mskr for a very interesting WC2010.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Early in his reign, Dunga said that one of the most difficult aspects of making the switch from player to coach was acquiring patience. This, for Maradona is almost certainly even harder. Firstly, he was clearly the far better player, secondly he is a man who seems to run on emotion."

    Did anybody manage to read that paragraph without thinking of Roy Keane?

  • Comment number 25.

    His psychological problems are well documented, just like Gascoigne, he is (to put it gently) "daft as a brush" (thank you for that Sir Bobby), and it is highly unlikely that he has any man-managing skills - look at the way he screwed things up with Riquelme. He has also been a destablilising influence on his future son-in-law Aguero at Atletico Madrid. It was the proverbial disaster waiting to happen.

  • Comment number 26.

    i for one want them there, it would be sad not to have at the pinnacle of football and would also love to have portugal and france there aswell, no offence to the likes of serbia or denmark but they dont have that something that makes you want to go and see them play. i like watching aregentina, portugal and france play they have world class players in there side, and would be sorely missed if they failed to get there.

  • Comment number 27.

    According to this, he may finally bring in Hiquan, which could be the tonic Argentina need up front.

    What I don't understand is why Maradona is considering dropped Zanetti. It makes no sense with Argentina needing all the class they can muster defensively.

  • Comment number 28.

    its another example of the world class players don't always make good managers. Dunga was clearly underated as a player and he had his critic which reinforced his drive and desire towards the game, he has clearly took this into management. On the other hand maradona was a national treasure and never came in critism, but to be fair tim outlines it correctly that maradona has been chucked into the deep end, dunga had the advantage of having time to experiment.

  • Comment number 29.

    23. At 12:15pm on 14 Sep 2009, WhitleyBayWonTheVase wrote:

    Maradonna was appointed because the national team needed a legend to try ot inspire a team of rather average players.

    An average defence, perhaps, but this Argentina side still has massive quality. It'd be a much better team if Maradona called up players like Esteban Cambiasso, Lissandro Lopez, Lucho Gonzalez and Gonzalo Higuain, and made peace with Riquelme. Instead he's drafting in 36 year old defenders for baffling debuts.

    Maradona's problem is simple: he has no idea what he's doing. His "inspirational" value as a legend is negated by his tactical ineptitude, his terrible selections and his inability to organise his side. He is a complete novice, given a job vastly beyond his skill and experience for sentimental reasons.

    Argentina's problem is more than bad defending. There is no idea behind the squad. They don't play with any unique style. The old Argentina had a style: they would pass the ball for as long as necessary, very patiently retaining possession until the opportunity arose, when they would ruthlessly exploit it with their attacking talent. Maradona's Argentina play as a team of individuals. They don't pass nearly enough, and they're always trying to force the chance with ambitious dribbles or long shots, because there's no plan on how to break down the opposition.

  • Comment number 30.

    Vickery. Even though Argentina's main problems appear to be leaking goals, I am wondering if there is an over reliance on "star" players who are not performing. Tevez is a player who confuses me. He is never going to be a regular goal scorer. At club level his record is poor, internationally...even worse. This guy is leading the line. I can only assume that his blood and guts displays are what have earned him the plaudits over the years, as it is certainly not his ability to score goals, which is fundamentally what you look for in a striker. Messi looks amazing in a highly talented Barcelona side. This guy is massively overrated. He lives off the players around him being able to provide him with neat one-twos. Nearly everything "special" he does works with him coming inside, playing a one-two with xavi, iniesta, henry etc. Argentinas squad simply does not have this surrounding quality. Brazil on the other hand have Kaka. They currently have a reliable, regular goalscorer in Fabiano, and as you rightly observe, Julio Cesar and Lucio have performed heroically.

  • Comment number 31.

    Strange one....I guess we just assume that Argentina's squad should be good enough to qualify, whoever's in charge. And when its a legend like Diego Maradona, you assume so even more. But how do you organise a team to adjust to a style, formation and install a winning mentality with limited coaching experience. As you pointed out, Dunga had a lot of time on his side, which enabled him to gain the neccessary experience, see what worked etc. Sometimes motivation isn't enough. Similar to the Shearer situation at Newcastle, although the players were a long way off the quality of some of the Argentina squad! I am now going to be Argentina boss on Football Manager 09 and see if I can get qualification!

  • Comment number 32.

    15. At 11:10am on 14 Sep 2009, respect_my_authority wrote:

    A tough, hard-working, defender who played for the team takes to
    But chin up. Argentina. The ludicrous qualifying system in South America will see you through. If you come fifth out of ten, you are punished by a play-off against Costa-Rica!

    You call ludicrous a system in which everyone faces everyone and so this eliminates the "luck" factor that group stages carry? In South America you will face and compete for places against everyone and it is the hardest of all qualifiers because of that! No lucky draws against minows like happens in Europe and no "Group of Death" either.

    Your nickname does not make justice to the comment.

    Anyway... problem for Maradona is not solely himself, not solely the players or the situation of the squad... It is all together. Several factors bringin influence at the same time.

    If the issue was only Maradona, the AFA would have addressed. Only the players? Changes would have come to clear the issue.

    When appointning Maradona, Argentina had pressed the panic buttom on a situation which, with clearly one of the best squads in the world, not satisfactory progress was achieved. Worse, who to bring to replace the failing manager?

    Loads of the names mentioned were/are already in employment and would not relinquish. Others may have secretly refused/not agreed to terms... who knows?

    As for experience, Dunga did not have any other significant management career (if any at all) and the same happened with Klinsmann, Van Basten, etc... to name a few.

    As Tim correctly points out, Dunga was appointed at the right time when there were no major competitions. He was lucky that on a key moment (end of the Olympics) there was no opportunity to replace but, as we brazilians learned in 1982 with Italy, "There's no champion without luck".

    I still do believ that Argentina will make it and if they do, lessons will be learned and they have all chances to do well in the World Cup against whatever team.

    Sometimes, a trouble free qualification is just a major problem as a troublesome one since you have a false feeling that all is well and that you will cruise.

    A troublesome qualifying can keep you focused and eager to address any current (and likely...) fault and shortcoming and make you stronger so, I as a brazilian will keep an eye on Argentina if they qualify and sugest England to do so.

    History have several examples of this.

  • Comment number 33.

    I for one am a bit sceptical about simply why Argentina are making decisions such as leaving out Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso and Maxi Rodriguez to name but a few. Surely with there champions league experience these players would be first choice every game along with the likes of messi, mascherano and zanetti. And what is happening with the exclusion of gonzalo higuain? Maybe still a bit rough around the edges but no more so than aguero, and possibly now a better option than Tevez who will have no european football this season?

  • Comment number 34.

    What do you make of Maradona's subs in their loss to Paraguay? He brought on Palermo and an uncapped Schiavi, both of who are 35+. Doesnt he have better players like Higuain at his disposal to bring in as a sub when losing? To me it looks like Maradona's plays favorites and does not make team selection solely on talent.

    Dunga seems somewhat similar, how else can one explain Diego not playing considering the rich vein of form he is in?

  • Comment number 35.

    would be a shame if argentina doesnt qualify for the world cup. the appointment of diego maradona as the coach of the national side was a strange one, it was great to have hero coach the team but it wasnt great that he doesnt have that much experience in that capacity.

    think they have it in them to scramble in the last few games and qualify for the world cup, but from the last matches they also have in them to lose out on a place.

  • Comment number 36.

    20 - i think that football in the leading south american countries is ore important as a part of national self-esteem than it is in europe.

    One thing I think it's very hard to accuse Maradona of is being self-obsessed. It's very hard to find people who played alongside him who don't have real affection for him - they will all say that Maradona was a giver, all he wanted was for the team to win.

  • Comment number 37.

    34 - I suppose with Palermo and Schiavi Mradona was going with the idea of height - Paraguay's back line is not the tallest, and Argentina had made no progress on the floor.

    To be fair to Dunga on the Diego issue, he carried him around for a fair while, and then seemed to give up on him after the Olympics. Perhaps now Dunga has time to look for a Plan B Diego will be handed another chance.

  • Comment number 38.

    I watched the Brazil game, and I have to say Maradona's tactics were quite bizarre. He set his team up to play an almost England style 4-4-2, which was strange to say the least. Argentina have such naturally gifted ball players, and I'd think a 4-5-1 would suit them best.

    As for the defence, why doesn't Walter Samuel get into the squad? He's still going strong for Inter, and I have no idea how the calamitous Gabriel Heinze keeps getting into the first team. In midfield, Cambiasso and Mascherano should start unconditionally as holding midfielders, with three of Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Higuain, Lavezzi completing the attacking trident. Add to that a proper striker like Lisandro Lopez or Julio Cruz, and Argentina have an incredible team that should waltz its way to the World Cup.

    Maradona has made a mess of things with an unbelievably talented Argentina team as far as I can see.

  • Comment number 39.


    It is interesting comparison that you have brought out.
    I would throw in Pep Guardiola into the mix as well.
    He is, in some sense, a middle ground between Diego and Dunga.
    A passionate coach and additionally committed to building a professional side.

    Interestingly, one of the most inert performances of Barcelona and , in particular of Messi, came in the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
    In that game, Pep looked a bit too animated and almost lost the sense of being a coach. He looked more a Maradona, if you like.

    In my opinion, this impatience of Maradona on the touch-line (in addition to the tactical mistakes he might have made), really rubs on to the players. A quick look at the performance of the most important players for Argentina in this side - Messi and Mascherano - reveals that. Messi almost fitted seamlessly in the game against Getafe 2 days back- a contrast to the disaster with Argentina. Similarly, Rafa Benitez is probably the last person to get stuck in passionate pitch antics ala Diego.

    This probably brings me the point. Are the players finding it hard to adapt to this admittedly different approach (a bit less professsionalism and a bit more passion and energy) of Diego to what they have being finding as the norm in their usual clubs ?

  • Comment number 40.

    I think the Argentinians "FA" have been very clever. The clamour for Maradona to be given the job was getting hysterical - and the Argentina FA would have been forced to give him the job - sooner or later. By giving it to him when they did, he's been forced to qualify or shut up. If they don't qualify - the Maradona circus is over. Even if they do qualify - and they will, of course, because they'll end up playing the likes of Trinidad & Tobago after finishing 5th - the the Maradona bolt may already have been shot. Although maybe his emotion and passion will be an asset into the tournament and they'll end up winning it. However, either way, the clever option was for the Argentina FA to give him the job when they did knowing that Maradona was on a hiding to nothing - and it was win/win all the way. He wins the World Cup and everyone's happy. He doesn't qualify and the Maradona factor has been excised after a relatively painless 18 months.

  • Comment number 41.

    To me the difference is clear: Maradona approaches the game from a attacking point of view, whereas Dungas approaches it from a defensive point of view; and if defense doesn't work, nothing else does.

    Dunga, as a player always had to be aware of his team's tactics, while Maradona was always on the creative side of things and had little to do with the team's mechanics, especially defense.

    Also, Maradona picks the players, and has erred in that. The lack of height is not being addressed as the new taller players sit on the bench.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim: I think you got it right to point out thew fact that Dunga has had more time to experiment (and screw up).

    And the rest of you: This Maradona-bashing is getting ridiculous. Diego is a great guy who loves our favorite sport, loves all players, especially his compatriots. The reason he accepted the coaching position is not ego-driven but just love for the sport and his country. Plus this sanctimonious criticism of his drug-addiction has nothing to do with the presednt situation. I think he can get better at this coaching thing but he needs time, and time is something Argentina has not much of.

  • Comment number 43.

    # 34 Bendtener's finishing touch..................

    Dunga had Diego in the team for a while but the guy never seem to turn up for Brazil. I watched a qualifier several months ago which Brazil played against Peru (not sure) Diego came in for the injured Anderson at half time and he got substituited after 20mins cos he was more of a liablility in keeping possesion than an advantage.

    Secondly Diego is a poor man's Kaka and he will not bring any balance to the team, even Ronaldinho won't do any good to the team on present form. you need Kleberson, Elano, Ramires kind of player who can put a good tackling shift as well as fairly good attacking and set pieces contribution. it's a shame but I'm afraid you have to balance your team with flair and hard work.

    As for MAradona he is clearly clueless isn't he? would the team below do him any harm please?






    I don't care what anyone says, Veron is not anywhere near Riquelme in terms of playmaking.

  • Comment number 44.


    Surely its time for Diego Milito to be used. I know you're not his biggest fan but he IS a goalscorer (certainly more than Tevez!) and is the big man that Argentina seem to be missing. He's scored regularly in Italy and Spain (not exactly sub-standard leagues) so I don't understand how he cannot be international quality?

  • Comment number 45.

    "Why has Dunga taken easily to coaching but Maradona has not?"

    Well, that's not really a difficult question to answer. Defensive midfielders always make the best coaches because of the 11 players on the field, they are the most strategically placed to read the game in attack and defense.

    Maradona is just a natural talent. He never thought of football as something he has to think about tactically; it just came to him naturally. He does not have a conscious understanding of what good football is. It's mostly subconscious.

  • Comment number 46.

    Maradona has too impatient a temperament to be an international manager. He keeps making stupid half-time changes and has picked over sixty players since he started (although this does include players in one wholly home-based squad for a friendly against some also-ran nation: Panama, I think).

    As a result Argentina have no time to even try to become a cohesive unit. Their performance against Paraguay lacked shape, even before Juan Sebastián Verón was sent off. He also has unfathomable prejudices against certain players like Cambiasso and Higuaín and is too keen to pander to irrational nationalism by picking Argentina-based players. This is what Brazil used to do under Vanderlei Luxemburgo and it nearly

    Presuming Verón is suspended for the Peru match, and that Gabi Milito is still injured, I'd pick the following XI:

    Romero - Zanetti, Demichelis, Díaz, Papa - Rodríguez, Mascherano, Cambiasso, L. González – Higuaín, Messi SUBS: Andújar, Otamendi, E. Insúa, Gago, Dátolo, López, Agüero

    What do you think, Tim?

  • Comment number 47.

    Maradona has too impatient a temperament to be an international manager. He keeps making stupid half-time changes and has picked over sixty players since he started (although this does include players in one wholly home-based squad for a friendly against some also-ran nation: Panama, I think).

    As a result Argentina have no time to even try to become a cohesive unit. Their performance against Paraguay lacked shape, even before Juan Sebastián Verón was sent off. He also has unfathomable prejudices against certain players like Cambiasso and Higuaín and is too keen to pander to irrational nationalism by picking Argentina-based players. This is what Brazil used to do under Luxemburgo and Leão and it nearly cost them a place at the 2002 World Cup. There is a reason why Cambiasso, Higuaín and Demichelis play in Europe and players such as Domínguez, Battaglia, Braña, Palermo and Schiavi are back home in Argentina and that is quality.

    Presuming Verón is suspended for the Peru match, and that Gabi Milito is still injured, I'd pick the following XI:

    Romero - Zanetti, Demichelis, Díaz, Papa - Rodríguez, Mascherano, Cambiasso, L. González – Higuaín, Messi SUBS: Andújar, Otamendi, E. Insúa, Gago, Dátolo, López, Agüero

    What do you think, Tim?

  • Comment number 48.

    As for Diego, I have to disagree on Dunga giving him enough chances. Dunga himself promoted Diego before Copa America, implying that was his chance, etc, but when Brazil was losing to Mexico for 0-2 at half time in the first match, he was replaced and then not used again during the entire tournament. And that still considering he had scored a goal that was wrongly anulled.

    Then, he had a pretty good Olympics, perhaps even Brazil's best player, and a fine game against Chile in Santiago, but then after one rubbish match he wasn't called anymore.

    Doesn't make sense when Robinho hasn't played well in two years and is still a regular in the starting 11, Afonso got nearly 10 caps before he was dropped, Kleber was a regular on the team while playing rubbish football for almost 2 years both at club (Santos supporters celebrated a lot when he was sold) and in the national team, Gilberto Silva clearly can't perform in the level he was used to, etc. And it can't be attitude because the likes of Robinho, Adriano and Ronaldinho keep being called (well, the latter not anymore, but he still was for a good period).

    As for Dunga vs Maradona, it's clear that the best players turned managers usually are the ones that had both great leadership as a player and which, by the nature of their game and/or positions, had to be more tactically aware than most players. See Cruyjff, Zagallo, Beckenbauer, Guardiola, etc.

  • Comment number 49.

    Jeez!Al Gore looks so svelte!

  • Comment number 50.

    To the person who said they felt 'sorry for Argentina and Maradona' I can only say you should never feel sorry for a cheat and drug user. He sat no examples to anyone, unlike the greatest ever, Pele.

    To beckenhamred- quite right about Bobby Charlton - great player but usless Manager. Not many realize that he was so embarrassed getting Preston relegated that he put his boots on the following season and played until Easter when he then retired again, permanantly. He could not see that Preston had the worst goalie ever to pull on a shirt but Charlton kept playing him game after game.

    Why Maradona as Manager? It is the Argentine culture. They are very passionate about their 'heroes' but also immature in many respects and an example was, in the 1970's to make the widow of former President Peron, the new President, after he died. The Country dissolved into corruption and ended sadly with a Military coup in which thousands of innocent people were killed.

    Alanlo -it will not be easy meat like Trindad that Argentine will play if they finished 5th. It will be either Honduras or Costs Rica, slightly tougher opposition. The USA are virtually qualified and Mexico after being bottom (with Eriksson), are now second (wisely without Eriksson)and on a roll, and almost sure to go to S. Africa, which leaves Honduras and Costa Rica fighting it out for the 3rd automatic place. You would have to fancy Argentina but with Maradona at the helm anything could happen. Beware!

  • Comment number 51.

    With all praises that Dunga is getting I would like him to come and coach South African Football national team after the world next year. If he can last for 1 year than he would be doing well.

  • Comment number 52.

    I don´t see why european media try to compare Brazil to Argentina. Fine, Uruguay missed a penalty and stuff, though, Brazil has won 5 world cup titles, copa america, Confederations cup, been to every single world cup finals and still, Maradona and Argentina are normally put levelled with Brazil.
    Could anyone try and explain this to me?

    The only team that could be compared to Brazil is Italy however, they have lost to brazil twice within 4 months...

  • Comment number 53.

    Enough is enough, this is getting ridiculous! Diego has to go and I cannot believe there are people here defending him!!!

    Is it ethical that he earns more the double than Basile, Pekerman, Bielsa and Passarella?

    Is it good leadership to invite Madrid-based players Heinze, Gago, (nephiew) Agüero and Maxi to dinner without considering Higuain or Saviola?

    Is it tactically sound to play Verón on the right and use your final substitution to bring on a 36-years old veteran defender who has never played for the national team?

    Is it credible to think that players based in Argentina will be better alternatives than Higuain or Cambiasso?

    As the answers to all questions is no, let us pray that Grondona gets his act together and realizes that the best player of all time might be just about the worst manager of all time.

    All credit to Riquelme for having none of this nonsense!

    To face Peru and Uruguay:

    Manager: Anyone but Maradona

    Verón to be considered when back from suspension

  • Comment number 54.

    48 - I agree on EVERYBODY but not on Gilberto Silva. He's clearly still class, but he goes "unseen" in most games. I don't have anybody in mind to replace him as a defensive midfielder.

    Afonso Alves was a joke, ok, he was doing "good" in a medium club of a medium league, but then he moved to a big league(still in a medium-to-small club) and what did he do? Got himself relegated. Because the lack of goals.

    Diego is fantastic in club football but seems not to perform that well in the selecao. I think the problem may be emotional, so why not just giving him more time to calm down? I don't think he can be as good for the team as Elano, but why not as a sub for Kaka?

    Left-back is the unsolved problem, I don't like Andre Santos, haven't played well in the last two games. Filipe Luis is there and I expect him to get a chance soon, but why not Maxwell?

    Also on the Dunga vs. Maradona, I praised Maradona when he was appointed, a huge moral boost, you can't deny. And he was a creative player, but a gifted passer is only very good if he is aware of his team movements. Didn't Cruyff succeed as a manager?

  • Comment number 55.

    54 - Gilberto Silva hasn't played well for a long time. Against Argentina, him and Robinho were the worst Brazilian players. He's giving the ball away easily nowadays, and gives studpid free kicks away in dangerous area. He's passed his best, it is time Dunga find someone else in that position, give a chance to Sandro from Inter, perhaps Anderson, or even Richarlyson.... Regarding the left back, i agree with you A Santos is a bit limited.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thank you Tim, no witty remarks or incisive debate here, just thought i'd say how much I appreaciate your blogs...great stuff.

  • Comment number 57.

    #52 exemplifies the kind of sanctimonious criticism of Diego Magno that has nothing to do with football. And comparing Diego's selection to Isabel's election also shows poor knowledge of Argentina's history and culture -- if you can call a few refried cliches knowledge of course.

    I repeat, Diego is an awesome guy who views this job as patriotic duty. And regardless of what might many around the world and --far away from Argentina-- might think, Diego has been, is, and will be a great example for other Argentinian players because of his love of the game and his profound respect for footballers.

    I hope Argentina makes it to SA and Diego gets the chance to lead his country to hoist the WC. That would be a great prize for a guy so totally in love with and who's given so much to football. At the moment, unfortunately, it looks very hard.

  • Comment number 58.

    You're over complicating the matter. Dunga at least has some semblance of knowledge on leading a team whereas Maradona doesn't have a clue what he's doing. You can call his selection, tactics, and substitutions "strange" but in reality it's far simpler than that: They are "wrong". He constantly makes wrong decisions because he doesn't know what he's doing.

    Simple. Now stop making excuses for him.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hey Tim, i don't know if you remember this, but what i think was the biggest stroke of luck Dunga had was when he was pressured the most, aganist Uruguai in São Paulo.
    He had selected the horrible Afonso Alves, only he knows why (and Boro fans would agree), but Alves got injured. On his spot, Dunga called Luis Fabiano, who wasn't being called and was getting very frustrated about it.
    In the match, with Brasil 1-0 down, and being pressured by Uruguai, with wonderful saves by Julio Cesar, Luis Fabiano scored from two half chances and became a candidate to the 9 jersey.
    Now that he is the No 1 choice for the attack, no one remembers this.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sorry about the double post Tim, but what I think is the biggest quality of Dunga is that he is very humble, and works very close to his assistant, Jorginho, who has a bigger experience as coach (not that much), but seems to have a much better understanding of the game.
    In the interviws before the games, Dunga is almost always confrontational, and speaking of motivation and attitude (and nothing very useful), while Jorginho offers a more tactical knowledge both of the Brazilian team but also a good insight on the opponents.
    You can almost think that their relation is like the one between Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low in WC2006, in which Klinsmann seemed to be a motivator, and Low the tactical brains behind the team.
    Maradona seems unable to listen to other people very well, and make strange decisions, like the lineup aganist Paraguay, with all those changes.

  • Comment number 61.

    I would say that Maradona as a player had so much natural talent, his genius was more instinctive than mental. Dunga on the other hand was technically limited but intelligent and (perhaps most important) he was a defender in a country where defense is not always a priority. Thus, Dunga can spend most of his time building a good defense (as he has) knowing that his attackers can probably take care of the scoring. Maradona as an attacker focuses all his coaching on building a killer front, but the back is a disaster. As an Argentine, I am honestly doubtful of our chances. If it comes down to the last game against Uruguay, and Uruguay has a chance of making it, I don't think we'll make it. Maradona has shown his team can't play even in the most favorable of situations, what chances do we have against a fighting team like Uruguay and at the Centenario. I hope the AFA learns from this mistakes and picks the next coach based with their minds instead of with their hearts.

  • Comment number 62.

    Oh and I agree with tmaxwell83. Maradona has no clue what his doing. I mean, he said "this is not Higuain's time". If being the top scorer of the biggest club in the world isn't enough, I don't know what is. Maradona still thinks he can "motivate" his players when what they are asking for is a strategy. Messi's father has said that Maradona didn't give Lio a SINGLE tactical direction in the last two matches. Didn't even tell him where to stand on the field. If this team ever wins ANYTHING it will be DESPITE Maradona and not BECAUSE of him.

  • Comment number 63.

    Why is Dunga called 'Dopey'? - Is it a physical resemblance?

    Funny ol'game football, he says in best Jimmy Greaves impression, butI actually think Argentina could be the surprise package at the World Cup.

    I think they'll just about qualify - it works in their favour that Ecuador and Uruguay face each other in next fixture, while the Argies are at home to already-eliminated Peru.

    It also works to the advantage of the eventual 5th placed South American team that Costa Rica are likely play-off candidates - a team that has lost their way after punching above their weight at the beginning of qualifiers.

    Expectations of Argentina are so low now, even in Argentina, but there is still a good team in there somewhere, waiting to find itself - it could all come together for them just at the right time ie. next summer in South Afirca.

    (the direct inverse of Spain and England who are peaking very early, currently being talked about as serious contenders for winning the World Cup, with all the extra hype and pressure that entails).

  • Comment number 64.

    Many interesting comments but In Argentina we see how overrated Messi is.These comparisons to Diego the player are an incredible sham merely highlighting the hype of the "Championless boring league which has about 3 serious contenders.In Barcelona he is almost invariabaly playing for a very good team against nothing but at International level hes meeting teams with ability and conviction.Argentina has ahost of top class players but morale has collapsed and Maradona has lost the plot.He will be officially in charge from now on but Bilardo will take over in real terms and tidy up the defense.We can expect a much more negative Argentina the project of saving futbol on our own will be scrapped and poosibly as with the 58 fiasco we will overreact and outdo the Brasucas and Tanos in negativity

  • Comment number 65.

    Dunga was a player of limited ability, players like that have to get by on having a better work ethic and tactial awareness to be effective. Defensive players also tend to have to have a better tactical awareness of what is going on around them, team shape etc.

    Maradonna was a wonderful player who's main role was to get himself into positions where he could hurt the opposition, find space for himself and then find a pass to a team mate.

    In general the first (limited/defensive) type of player needs to know and be more atuned to tactics and how the team operates as a whole whereas the second is more individual. The first type of player often goes on to make the better manager.

    This isn't because they are better per se, but they start from a better point of knowledge. It's like taking someone who left school at 16 and has been doing real work for 5 years and pitching them against first year graduate trainee, the first type will often be seen as less desireable and may have less potential but will be at that point ahead in the game.

    Most players of Maradonna's type would need four or five seasons as a coach to catch up but in todays world are very unlikely to be given that time.

    In short, Dunga has coped better because he had a massive head start.

  • Comment number 66.

    64 - meu caro. I can't see much negativity from the Brazilian side, look at the table:

    In 16 games:

    Brazil scored 30 and let 9
    Argentina scored 20 and let 19

    What i can see is that Brazil is more efficient in attack and in defense compared to los Hermanos. Unfortunately to you (Lasaetarubia), Argentina hasn't played well against a Brazilian side for a long long time....

    I do hope your guys qualify, so we can beat you again in South Africa.

  • Comment number 67.

    Having read through the numerous comments im disappointed at the amount of Carlos Tevez bashing. "Tevez not a goalscorer,better as a sub, etc, etc".
    Carlos Tevez was a consistent goalscorer both in argentina and brazil (in the latter league he even broke one of Pele's goalscoring feats!")Bielsa built the forward line around Tevez, reaching the copa america final 2003 and winning the olympics in 2004. He was also 3 times south american football of the year during a periods where Adriano, Diego & robiniho were plying their trade that side of the pond.
    His time in England should be looked upon more fairly, at West Ham he took time to settle &they were a poor side fighting relegation so goals would not be plentiful.
    At Man U he averaged a goal every 3 games which isnt bad considering the large number of cameo appearances he had at old trafford.
    Tevez's faultering is more down to constant shifting of positions along the front line and insufficient game time rather than any lack of ability. Im not suggesting he is a prolific scorer but a decent goalscorer and a far, far better player than people are giving him credit for.

  • Comment number 68.

    This all reminds me of when Brazil struggled to survive WCQ in 2002(barely making it) and eventually getting to the tournament and winning it.

    Maradona has been rather unlucky that he has a tough qualifying program, a group of players who have not managed to be combined into a coherent whole, and the normal difficulties a team faces when trying to get through the South American qualifying process (foreign based players, huge travelling distances, jet lag, high expectations). I still think that Argentina will make it to the World Cup, and then it will be up to Maradona and the squad he selects to build a team that can challenge for honours. I have no doubt they have the talent. They simply lack the time to bring it all together at the moment.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'd just like to mention that everyone keeps on mentioning why hasn't Esteban Cambiasso been picked but i would like to mention that he got injured in pre-season for Inter and is going to be miss the first month or two of the season.

    Also Walter Samuel has just come back from an ankle injury that was a lot closer to ending his top flight career than most people realise. He has done well to get to the stage where he can start playing football again - give him another month or two of first team football and he might be a good choice. Also Gabi Milito of Barcelona did his crucuate ligaments and hasn't really made a comeback since then. Hopefully at some point this season he can look like the same player again though.

    With the Brazil left back debate there is a distinct lack of quality available. I know Marcelo is considered to be a ML but at the moment at Madrid he is playing DL and might be worth another look. Also if Fabio Aurelio can get fit and play a long run of games at Liverpool he surely has to be heavily considered.

    With Gonzalo Higuin this could be a terrible season for him. At a time when the national scene could be open for him he is now looking to be a bit part player at Madrid - having to share playing time with Raul and you have to believe that Raul will win out in the end.

    One question here - Maradona's pro Boca and anti River Plate affiliations are widely known - how many in the current Argentina squad are current/former River players and how many are current/former Boca players? Might this be a reason why Higuin is not considered and certain other players haven't featured. Anyway that might prove to be an intrueging prospect.

  • Comment number 70.

    Good blog as ever, Tim. Stumbled across this language blog the other day:
    You get a mention ("the excellent Tim Vickery") there anyone out there who doesn't think you're the man? :)

  • Comment number 71.

    I think you fail to cover Maradona's lack of approach in all things life. As a footballer, he was so brilliant, he didn't have to think about it.

    A bit like many fallen greats such as Best and Gazza, a simple working class lad, he got caught up in his own hype and never really recovered. In fact, it is amazing he is still alive - we all remember the images from when he was in rehab (several times). All this shenanigans of changing the home venue at the last minute doesn't exactly signal poise, patience and confidence. That's the thing, despite being the best player ever, Maradona is a man chased by demons, shackled to his own insecurity. Other mental health problems have also be well-documented.

    Dunga on the other hand is a different animal altogether.
    His development as a player, a man and a coach is a story of hard work and determination.

    It's a bit like comparing Gazza and Stuart Pearce in management. I think Psycho will turn into a fantastic international manager. Can anyone imagine the calamity of Gazza becoming England manager?

    Why did the Argentine media not realise this experiment was never going to work? Why did they not wait until after the next World Cup? You don't go changing managers midway through the qualification period. And if you do, don't give it someone with so little experience. I just hope for Maradona and his family's sake, he doesn't get pilloried for this failed campaign.

  • Comment number 72.

    69 - Maxwell, Filipe Luis, Marcelo, Fabio Aurelio, Adriano, my grandfather. There's lot's of names that I would call before Andre Santos.

    Maradona's captain came from River Plate, Mascherano. I don't think he's not calling River-revealed players, I don't remember some mentioned names playing for his predecessor too.

    67 - I don't really agree with that, Tevez's a good player(his only good time was in South America) but nothing special, I'd have Aguero to play instead of him. His record for Man Utd is poor, it is clear to me that he was 3rd or even 4th choice last year(Cristiano, Rooney, Berbatov, Tevez!), though he scored some good goals and loads of goals in last year Carling Cup. Against a team of farmers.

  • Comment number 73.

    galoucura- Is your grandfather that good? Mine was when he was alive, but unfortunately right-footed hehehe

    #60 is right about Jorginho. Anyone that follows Brazil tranining says Jorginho is usually the responsible for tactical instructions and more complex training.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a player Diego Maradona was a pure artist with plenty of tricks and fabulous dribbling abilities. Dunga was known for his pragmatic and disciplined approach less fanciful but more with monk-like work ethics. As incharge of teams they have not changed a bit. Dunga continues in the same trend and gets the results. Maradona is still showing his wreckless streak for risks. As a player he made a name with his charismatic approach. He should get the required points in the coming encounters. In the finals in South Africa Maradona will certainly look more organized and dangerous. Best wishes to Diego and his boys in the coming qualifying encounters.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 75.

    I understand Dunga's anger. The Brazilian press hates him. The press is used to criticizing without beeing contested. But Dunga is different, Dunga fires back. That's almost like blasphemy for them. The press is arrogant, thinking that is always right. They deserve Dunga's behavour.

  • Comment number 76.

    Although Maradona was by far the better player, Dunga was always gonna make a better manager than Maradona. He is more level-headed on the touchline, determined and astute and most of all more of a leader than his Argentine counterpart. Maradona's exasperation at times on the touchline when things aren't going well followed by insane knee-jerk decisions without much forethought can't inspire much confidence from his troops. Despite his criticisms, Dunga has built a well balanced team that as demonstrated in the recent Confederations Cup will be tough to beat and a good match for anyone. I still have my doubts about Spain and Italy (and France, Germany and Portugal!), but Capello is a very astute manager and I believe England will offer the strongest challenge from Europe.

    On another point, it really annoys me when people talk about the "easy" South American Qualifiers. As mentioned previously, all teams play each other home/away, eliminating bias of being in a favourable/tough group. Also, the matches are played in the most challenging conditions any player has to face, altitude, vastly different weather conditions from country to country (eg. hot humid weather in the north vs cold weather in the south), vast travelling distances (most players travel from Europe and play matches in a different time-zone to what they're accustomed. There are no longer easy groups facing the likes of Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia (all of whom have also all improved a great deal recently). There are no easy matches in the South American Qualifiers, in comparison with the European qualifiers. All South American teams that reach SA 2010 will have played 18 tough matches compared with European teams who will have played 10, and will reach SA on merit.

    Finally, as a Brazilian, I agree with previous posts that teams who struggle in qualifying do well at the WC (typically Brazil! Remember 2002?), but I fear that even if Argentina make it, they will not win WC2010 with Maradona in charge. Brazil did it in 2002, but Felipao (Scolari) was much more intelligent, astute and experienced than Maradona and that will all count against Maradona achieving the same.

  • Comment number 77.

    Pretty sure Argies will scrape through, interesting Blog. Cant see them being their usual threat though, Heskey would have a field day against their defence, might even score.....

  • Comment number 78.


    Any chance of Riquelme coming back ino the fold, considering Argentina's recent failures?

  • Comment number 79.

    Tim I love your blogs. I was reading this -----> and by the third page thought to myself, I don't care what anybody else thinks anymore, I only want to know what Tim thinks! Any chance we could get some opinion from you?


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