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Is it Maradona's time?

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Tim Vickery | 08:21 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Diego Maradona will be 48 on Thursday. There were times when it seemed that he wouldn't get that far, with his well publicised struggles with illegal drugs and weight.

Now he is well on course for a happy birthday. He looks set to be announced as coach of Argentina, the job he has campaigned hard for since Alfio Basile stepped down two weeks ago.

On Monday the line from the Argentine FA was that Maradona was one of four candidates, there was no rush to appoint and all four would be spoken to.

Instead Maradona touched down in Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning, met with AFA president Julio Grondona in the afternoon and emerged to announce that although talks would continue, the job was his for the taking...

It is fair to conclude that Maradona is not the most logical choice. His coaching experience is limited to brief spells with Deportivo Mandiyu and Racing in 1994/5 - his combined record reads three wins, 12 draws, eight defeats.

In comparison his 1986 team-mate Sergio Batista recently took the Olympic team to the gold medal.

Miguel Angel Russo has won titles recently and his San Lorenzo side are currently top of the league, and Carlos Bianchi has a truckload of titles to his name. Bianchi was the people's choice; he came out on top in the opinion polls.

But Maradona has something that no numbers could ever measure. He is Maradona, and his very name resonates deep in the Argentine soul.

From the day he scored those two goals against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter final he has been more the embodiment of a national fantasy than a footballer.

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The phenomenon is explored in the excellent 2006 film 'El Camino de San Diego.' A
Maradona fanatic from the far north of Argentina finds a block of wood that bears a resemblance to his idol.

His makes it into a statue and decides to make the long journey to Buenos Aires to present it to Maradona, who is going through a health crisis.

The film is a road movie which places the figure of Maradona in the context of religious faith. Characters are portrayed gripping to a belief in the Catholic church, spiritualist rituals, Afro-Brazilian gods and even winning the lottery.

Maradona is seen as a part of an alternative Argentine holy trinity, along with Che Guevara and folk saint Gauchito Gil.

There is a side to Argentina that is all logical debate, putting the world to rights over a cup of coffee.

But there is another side of wild emotionalism. Football brings both sides to the surface - the profound tactical debates and the desperate commitment of the fans.

Maradona runs on emotion. As a player he was able to turn it into physical energy. As a fan he is similar, taking off his shirt and swinging it round his head as he leads the chanting.

When former prominent players take up coaching, many complain about the difficulty of acquiring the patience necessary in the new function. Will Maradona be able to acquire it?

He will be helped by experienced people. Carlos Bilardo, his coach in 1986 and 90, will provide back up.

Likely to be his assistant on the training ground is 1990 team-mate Pedro Troglio, a coach of some standing.

If confirmed, his team have more baggage than Brazil's current duo of Dunga and Jorginho.

For how long will Maradona and co be appointed? This could turn into an interesting question.

Argentina are not in the habit of sacking coaches. Either they resign or their contract comes to an end.

On Monday Julio Grondona was indicating that the new coach will not be given a four year deal, but will only serve until the next World Cup.

A cynic might wonder if there are hidden intentions here - that Grondona can hardly ignore Maradona now that he is healthy and ambitious, but that assuming Argentina don't win the next World Cup he can draw his sting and then get rid of him in little more than a year and a half. Time will tell.

In the short term there's the matter of what Maradona is likely to do. Recently he picked an Argentina side; Carrizo in goal, a back four of Angeleri, De Michelis, Heinze and Papa, Gago, Mascherano (the likely captain), and Di Maria, Messi, Aguero and Tevez. He later hinted at a place for Veron.

Conclusions - Riquelme has to hit top form to get back in, the door is closed for Zanetti and maybe Cambiasso, and Messi will be expected to become more like Maradona, a leader and an organiser of the attack - a role he played badly in the defeat against Chile that sparked Basile's resignation.

It's a huge challenge - just like the one that Diego Maradona has in front of him if he is indeed confirmed as the new coach of his country.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "is is"? is that some sort of dodgy Argentinian impression?

  • Comment number 2.

    Is is? Is that some sort of advanced journalistic phrase that us mere mortal's don't understand?

  • Comment number 3.

    "is is"? i never noticed it said is is til i read those sarcastic comments

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps it's a mistake. I hear humans make them from time to time.

    Seeing as this is far an away one of the better blogs on this site I think we can cut the guy some slack.

  • Comment number 5.

    Its a mistake for Maradona to take this position/the fa to offer it to him. The expectations on the national side is immense, this is a team that are considered one of the best and its been to long since a major title. Im worried about the consequences for all concerned if they slip up in qualifying.

  • Comment number 6.

    maradona will have something no other coach could have as sooon as he walks into the job


    the guy has a certain aura about him and im sure the players will be excited about playing for one of the best players in the world ever.

  • Comment number 7.

    maradona can barely look after himself let alone manage a national side that has always had huge expectations. cant see this working

  • Comment number 8.

    i think it's more than ideal. If it all goes wrong and he doesn't cut it, they've got him out of their system (Newcastle and Alan Shearer comes to mind), if it turns out brilliant, then he's even more of a national icon. I hope it turns out well for the little fella, he is and will always be the world's greatest ever footballer and considering where he came from and what he's overcome, it'd be nice to see him succeed.

    also, surely his appointment will make the players give 150% when they walk out onto the pitch, afterall they arn't just playing for anybody, they are playing for their childhood hero

  • Comment number 9.

    I will agree with Tera Baap. The players will look up to him because he is someone they can clearly associate themselves with.

    We all know that he has done plenty of mistakes in the past but I do feel the MAN deserve another chance with the national team.

    By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to please visit my blog.

    We have the best sources of Argentine football in English. Honest.

    Your comments are most certainly appreciated.

  • Comment number 10.

    Maradona is a legend. He's my all time footballing hero. As a Scotland fan I'm looking forward to him appearing at Hampden next month (it's where he scored his first international goal and he genuinely loves the place).

    The only worry I have with this appointment is that it is putting Maradona in the limelight again - where he is most vulnerable. The first little mistake will be jumped on and every move he makes will be scrutinised. He is also liable to start shooting his mouth off and digging a deeper hole for himself if he is criticised too much. Luckily, he has a great Argentina side to manage on the field. I believe them to be the best in the world (despite their position in qualifying) and Maradona can only make them gel stronger (his coaches can deal with the technical aspects).

    Oh... and regarding the "is is" situation. I think it's discraceful that this was allowed to go past the editor before the article was posted... First Russel Brand and now this.... what is the BBC coming to?... ;-)

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree with post 7. Why was Maradona given preference to coaches of better pedigree, as evidenced by their success off the field. I wouldn't trust Maradona with a League Two side, much less the world force that is Argentina. If by a mans actions shall we judge him, then the choice of Maradona as national manager is by far the most erroneous decision made by the Argentian FA in recent times. What is the world coming to? Next thing you'll be telling me that Gazza wants to manage England.

  • Comment number 12.

    This morning I spotted a journalist typo. Excuse me while I self flagellate.

    Oh and surely the Maradona thing is going to end in tears? Or is the coach behind the scenes going to be actually calling the shots while Maradona lends his charisma to the post match interview?

  • Comment number 13.

    Totally farcical,

    The man is a cheat and a vagabond. I'm still hurting greatly from all those years ago and the pain gets deeper the longer England go wihout a major trophy.

    To equate the poisnoned little dwarf with some sort of religion is an afront to all God Fearing folk such as Sarah Palin.

    Why is Hernan Crespo not in the frame? Surely his run at Chelsea more than qualifies him fora life in the dugout - Maradona spent far more time on the pitch or re-hab and how does that qualify you to manage Crespo or Veron from his time at Man u and Chelsea are for more obvious candidates.

  • Comment number 14.

    Brilliant! Now hopefully they'll need a win in their last game to qualify for the World Cup and the opponents centre forward punches the ball in the net......makes my day.

  • Comment number 15.

    I wish him truckloads of good luck and am sure he has the goodwill of the Argentine public as well. With the array of good players he has at his disposal, 'twon't br too much of a task to turn the team around. What they ned is a n injection of self belief in the national shirt, in El Diego, they will get more than that. He was bold enough to criticise his successor (Messi), so who else is sacred? Is it his inlaw or the irrascible Heinze?

    this is a guy they must and can respect, play for die for.

    Truth though ; the honeymoon would not last because of Maradona's impulsive and atimes impossible nature.

  • Comment number 16.

    Top article

    People poking fun at minor mistakes have little else to do with themselves.

    For his performances in the Argentine shirt alone, Maradona deserves a crack at the whip.

    Sentamental as it may seem, he is a god in Argentina.

    Who knows? You can write off his previous managerial stints for a number of reasons including health and the situation around his appointment of previous clubs. (They were in serious trouble before turning to Diego to sort out the mess)

    Only English fans call the man a cheat. He is much more than that. He is a competitor who is willing to go to extreme lengths to win. Isnt a pity the England players and fans take the moral high ground yet should the shoe be on the other foot, they would almost definately label him a God, a genius. Considering the adulation given to lesser geniuses like Hoddle, Waddle, Gascoigne, Charlton.


    Good luck to Diego should he get the role and fantastic writing again Mr Vickery

  • Comment number 17.

    So we would settle for winning by an English player punching the ball in the net would we? Not the fans I know, only morons would agree that that is the way to win a GAME.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've never understood how Maradonna is held in such high regard in Argentina. Sure he was a great footballer but he brought disgrace onto himself and the country. He's hugely flawed as a human being and I'd even suggest that his mental stability is in question.

    The guy came from the ghetto and never rose above it in terms of his behaviour and how he handles himself. Combine that with his lack of coaching experience and it is incredible he is even in the frame.

    I agree that Tim is the most insightful and intelligent writer on these Blogs.

    And by the way, I'm not English and harbour no grudges regarding the 'hand of God' incident.

  • Comment number 20.

    if he does well diego will become even more of a legend in argentina (if thats possible) and if he fails no one is gona blame him, they gona blame the AFA for appointing him even though he has very little experience in management, so its a win win situation for diego.
    but lets hope he does well cause he deserves some happiness after what hes been through.
    im not a big argentina fan but i sure will be supporting him

  • Comment number 21.

    23carragold. Sorry mate but I would not. I'm all up for teams doing everything possible to win a game.......within the laws of the game. I am desperate for England to do well but please don't insult me and countless other fans. We don't like someone downright cheating against us so we cannot glory in one of our own doing it.

  • Comment number 22.

    Laughable. I'm thinking of the pictures of Maradona looking crazed after he scored against Greece at WC '94, i.e. the last international match he played before being banned for drugs. And how his weight ballooned and there were serious concerns he might die a few years ago. Then there was the cocaine addiction. And now the AFA is considering making his national team coach? With virtually no managerial experience.

    If he is appointed he won't even last in the job until the World Cup. Is is a terrible idea.

  • Comment number 23.

    WordsofWisdom - are you saying that generally people from the "Ghetto" don't know how to behave or handle themselves? That's a tad disrespectful if you ask me...

    And can you explain how Maradona disgraced his country? Surely lifting the World Cup as captain after the greatest ever individual display of footballing genius in a tournament is no disgrace...

    WordsofWisdom - Your post reeks of ignorance.... not wisdom

  • Comment number 24.


    You sir, are definately on in a million.

  • Comment number 25.


  • Comment number 26.

    I can't believe the Argentinian FA have done this! What a ridiculous appointment - although it does make some sense with Tim's excellent exploration of the Argentine soul. However, appointing Maradona would be like the English FA giving the job to Gazza. Gazza might be having some issues now, but we all remember Maradona in rehab several times, battling weight and health problems. Surely this is not the right man to lead a footballing giant.

  • Comment number 27.

    aggersforcaptain is right. For all the problems with England football, at least the team aren't cheats. At least when they play for their country. No rolling around faking injuries, no shirt pulling, no diving. Well, not very much diving, especially now that Owen's not in the squad. Heck, during penalty shoot outs the England keepers don't even dive early. Which probably explains why they always lose.

    Argentina, on the other hand, has the likes of Maradona and Messi. Brilliant players, but they won't hesitate to punch the ball into the net, then celebrate as if they did nothing wrong. Must be nice to have no conscience.

  • Comment number 28.

    I couldn't care less about the hand of god goal, if England scored that goal i wouldn't have complained. However, Maradona is no different from Flo Jo. Nobody who takes drugs to enhance their performance should be praised, regardless of talent.

    I can't see this working out well for Argentina.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sorry 23carragold. I wasn't trying to come over all righteous it is simply the way I was brought up playing all sport. I coached teams in this way and we won and lost as the game unfolded. Cheating will spread as it is seen by youngsters on the TV. You won't believe after watching England struggle for so long, and being damn unlucky on more than one occasion, how desperate I am for them to be succesful. As an aside, I presume you nickname is a homage to the best all round defender in the Premier League?

  • Comment number 31.

    I don't think it's the same as England appointing Gascoigne at all. Gascoigne has nothing like the kind of status in England that Maradona has in Argentina. It's a very weak comparison. People respect Gazza for his football ability in the past but even at the time most people viewed Gazza as a clown and now see him as a sad derelict. Maradona has got himself back on track in recent years. He's like a demi-god in Argentina and on a short term basis the players will bust a gut to impress him. As long as he has intelligent coaches with him to work on more technical aspects, I don't see a problem.

  • Comment number 32.

    my first reaction to this news was shock as it has the potential to go terribly wrong.
    i would love to be wrong and would be delighted to see such a national icon lead the most talented squad in the world in my opinion to world cup glory in south africa.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think this would be terrible news for the Argentine national team! its sort of the equivalent of Paul Gasgoine becoming the English national manager

  • Comment number 34.

    when its about maradona the logics does not work. God makes his scripts and always throw him in the winning side. he have some magic inside him which will make him successful. he is a hero to me. he will show the world something new.

  • Comment number 35.

    my comment

  • Comment number 36.

    I have no idea if he will be a good manager/coach. I do know that he is the most talented player of all time though and a god like figure in Argentina.

    In the short term I think his presence may well inspire some of the players. In the long run though he will need to learn very quickly and have a great team of staff around him to succeed on the international stage.

  • Comment number 37.

    Cold war Kid,
    The drugs actually decreased his performance, they were not any performance enhancing steroids but cocaine. read about his troubles with the white stuff and you will understand that Maradona would have been even better minus the cocaine.

    As for the coaching idea, well it is a huge risk that is probably unfair on the other candidates. Grondona was criticised by Bianchi before, now, he will surely not be on the christmas card list.

    The role is very tough for tacticians as it is and Argentina play in a style that requires a thoughtful coach to manage the talent and tactics, Maradona is a romantic and I fear that his judgement may be clouded.

    But it will be an entertaining roller coaster of emotions from now on.

  • Comment number 38.

    A drunk, a drug addict and a cheat.
    Yup, sounds like an ideal candidate to manage the Argentinian National side.

  • Comment number 39.

    Aggersforaptain? Did you cheer when up stepped Luis Garcia against Chelski?

    Yeah i thought so.... So did I.

    I'm red through and through and replays showed that it wasn't a goal. Granted we would have gotten a penalty if the ref hadn't awarded a goal.... But two wrongs don't make a right.

    Sometimes the calls go our way, sometimes they don't... but please don't tell the world, you wouldn't cheer becuase we got the benefit of the doubt on a dodgy call.

  • Comment number 40.

    RESPECT for the man who is widely regarded as the best footballer ever.

    How fitting for him to manage what is currently the best national team in the world.

  • Comment number 41.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the insight last week Tim, was quite interesting. Not as glamorous as it may seem to an outsider but interesting none the less.

    Would have loved to have read the piece on the chairman threatening to shoot all of his players as well. Can you imagine that in the EPL?? I bet Daniel Levy would love to be able to have the freedom to do something like that!

    Thanks Tim

  • Comment number 42.

    Putting Gasgoine in the same sentence or even article as Diego is hybris.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ aggersforcaptian

    You are right.

    Best all round defender.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm also a Liverpool fan and the difference between Luis Garcia's "goal" against Chelsea and Maradona's hand of God is that Luis Garcia didn't cheat, didn't deceive the ref, his fellow players and the fans. OK, maybe it didn't cross the line, but the decision to award the goal was down to the ref and the linesman.

  • Comment number 45.

    Why do the Argentines always kick themselves in the teeth? A crazy decision and one that will end in tears for sure.
    Sure they will qualify for the World Cup as the woman who washes the team shirts could pick a side capable of beating Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, but the crunch for Maradonna will come in South Africa. That is when the heat will really be turned on. I don't think he is stable enough to take on this role and can you really appoint a Manager who has so openly expressed his hatred for players of River Plate, the arch rivals of his beloved Boca Juniors?
    His team selection, as outlined by Tim Vickery, is interesting in that he includes Heinze who is without doubt the weak link and his deficiencies have been exposed for sometime now.
    For me the logical choice is Sergio Batista. He is the right age and took the Olympic team to the gold medal.

  • Comment number 46.


    .... With agger coming in a close second.

  • Comment number 47.

    Jamminben said "The man is a cheat and a vagabond. I'm still hurting greatly from all those years ago and the pain gets deeper the longer England go wihout a major trophy."

    Which man is a cheat? Or do you mean Michael Owen's dive for a penalty against Argentina?

    99% of footballers would have tried to do the same thing if they thought they'd get away with it. And "England go without a major trophy" because (wait for it!) WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!

  • Comment number 48.

    I guess someone who worships this guy was offended by my post comparing their idol to Flo Jo. Isn't this blog about opinions?

    U13299637. If i argue your point my post will get pulled again. So i will just say that is debatable.

  • Comment number 49.

    Subterranean, realMir, matchboxmaster, U13299637 - at last some intelligent comments from people who understand the situation.

    There are a lot of people who are ignorant regarding the type of man Maradona actually is. His past mistakes have only made him stronger and more determined to succeed for the country he adores. He is admired for being a leader, standing up for his beliefs and overall, his god-like footballing ability.

    For those that are still dwelling on the hand-ball goal 22 YEARS AGO - get a life. He played you off the park that day and the skill he showed for that goal and more-so the second goal was unbelievable. It was all the more sweet for the Argentinean people because that game was against England.

  • Comment number 50.

    This will bring Argentina and Maradona down to earth. If they do well it will be because of the backroom staff, if they do badly he will take the brunt. It is a receipe for failure and angst. His character is to lead by example, I don't seem him as a mentor, leader, teacher type. I fear for the Mighty and great of Argentine football and for him.

  • Comment number 51.

    Haythnasr. I'm not actually a Red but simply acknowledging that Carra is the best all round defender. I must say though, you may have been a little lucky on a number of ocasions earlier this year but your looking good now.

  • Comment number 52.

    "aggersforcaptain is right. For all the problems with England football, at least the team aren't cheats. At least when they play for their country. No rolling around faking injuries, no shirt pulling, no diving. Well, not very much diving, especially now that Owen's not in the squad. Heck, during penalty shoot outs the England keepers don't even dive early. Which probably explains why they always lose.

    Argentina, on the other hand, has the likes of Maradona and Messi. Brilliant players, but they won't hesitate to punch the ball into the net, then celebrate as if they did nothing wrong. Must be nice to have no conscience."


    You mean when Gerrard or Joe Cole and Lampard fall flat on their head every other time when they haven't been touched? (credit they get up straight after they hear the whistle)

    Or when Ashley Cole knows he should be off but he's intimidating Riley claiming he got the ball and complaining for the yellow.

    Or John Terry elbowing the keeper on the head or pulling a defender down every time he goes forward - and then also complaining to the ref.

    Or the U-21s in the last finals seeing an opposition defender injured in the box but play onside off him and score.

    Or Wayne Rooney scoring with his hand in Monaco as if he was playing volleyball and O'Shea & Rio 2 metres away celebrate and tell him well done.

    Or Steven Taylor from Newcastle saving with his hand on the line and pretending he was shot on the chest by the football.

    True the English are the best at fair play...only when it's in favour of them.-

  • Comment number 53.

    Maradona has a borderline personality disorder.
    That is something we all know.

    He is also a serial relapser.

    One big high, or one big low - and it's odds on that he'll be under the table again.

    Who do these people think they're kidding?

    And what on earth do they think they're doing?


  • Comment number 54.

    Another great blog,

    As for the appointment, he will command instant respect and almost fear form players who will realise they are very much in his shadow, but great players rarely make good managers and hes probably the greatest player of all time so.....

    I hope it works though. Football needs players like maradona to come through. As good as messi and aguero is, neither has even come close to doing what he did thus far.

    And the fact he has had his problems adds to his popularity. It shows hes only human, something alot of stars often can show

  • Comment number 55.

    By the sounds of it, Maradona has come through his troubles and fair play to him if this is the case.

    Elsewhere on the planet football fans are known to have a healthy debate on whether the greatest player on earth was Pele or Maradona, except here.

    I think its time we english got rid of this chip on our shoulders and just acknowledge the man for what he is: A footballing genius.

    Whether he is up to it tactically as a manager as he was technically as a player will be interesting to see.

  • Comment number 56.

    He's not a logical choice for any kind of position of authority, other than perhaps the new face of cocaine.

  • Comment number 57.

    LokomotivRosco. You are right Maradonna's second goal in that game was truly awesome, one of the best I have ever been privileged to witness. But to say the skill he showed for THAT goal? Come on!

  • Comment number 58.

    How moving and inspirational the best player in history to manage the current best player in the world and his natural successor.

  • Comment number 59.

    Its always a merry go round with the national team coaches.After Maradona it'll be Passarella then maybe Pekerman,Bianchi and hey presto Basile is back in his old job.

  • Comment number 60.

    It could go either way. He'll either be the best thing to happen to Argentina or be their Keegan. At the moment it's anyone's guess which he'll be.

  • Comment number 61.

    I have a question that is rather polemic here in Brazil, but I would like to know the opinion from the British - who are, after all, the guys who created football -: who played better, Pelé or Maradona?

    I, personally, cannot state an opinion on this, given the fact that I'm too young and I have seen them only in short videos of their best moves - I was 8 when Maradona played in the USA/1994 World Cup. I would like to see unbiased opinions (which are really rare, around here). What do you think, Tim?

  • Comment number 62.

    well said Rafa's magic box

  • Comment number 63.

    NikosBg. Gerrad should have been sent off for simu;ation (as they call it these days) ditto Joe Cole. Cashley should, have been sent off for dissent, ditto Terry and so on and so on. Referees need to put their foot down but unfortuinately they don't seem to be backed up by the FA. Sorry but downright cheating is spoiling this beautiful, wonderful game where anarchy is slowly taking over.

  • Comment number 64.

    Pedblan. Without doubt is has to be Pele. Two footed and great in the air. George Best was also and Pele said he was the best he'd seen. Unfortunately he couldn't prove it at the WC due to him being Irish but Pele definetly comes before maradonna....a wonderfully gifted player but not two footed and crap in the air.

  • Comment number 65.

    Maybe if this works out England will look at Gazza to be the next England manager!!

  • Comment number 66.

    What's the odds on Claudio Canniggia becoming his assistant ?

  • Comment number 67.

    "I have a question that is rather polemic here in Brazil, but I would like to know the opinion from the British - who are, after all, the guys who created football -: who played better, Pel? or Maradona?"

    Pele was/is a superstar and celebrity, Diego more of a people's man. People also tend to pick their favourite based on which of the two eras they grew up.

    Pele enjoyed more success but had a national team of legends of comparable quality around him, most of Maradona's teammates have been forgotten. He also single-handedly led Napoli to glory which is a huge achievement and admirable on its own.

    But Garrincha is another strong and underrated candidate for best footballer ever.

  • Comment number 68.

    People who live in glass houses should not throw stones... why we don't go back to the 1966 World Cup where the Germans played Uruguay with a British ref and Argentina played England with a German ref, both with controversial situations? Why we don't remember that goal by Hurst which wasn't a goal?
    Or how about Owen throwing into the swimming pool lately with Argentina? Even the more actual volleyball kind of attempt from Scholes playing for Man. Utd. in front of Zenith? ...yes I know only we Argentines cheat.
    In what respects to Maradona, I hope to be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that we will be able to qualify for the 2014 WC.
    Funny how here in Argentina opinion poll´s showed how nobody wanted Maradona as a coach. Maybe because not everybody here hails him as a God.

  • Comment number 69.

    aggersforcaptain - regarding that goal. I stand by my comments...

    He made a wonderful run, played a brilliant one-two with Steve Hodge, continued his run then had the brilliance to realise that he was too short to beat Shilton to the ball with his head, so he flicked his arm out - genius.

    I know this is technically against the rules but it wasn't seen by the officials and it stood...

    I also have to say, he also showed skill when responding to media questions surrounding the goal.

  • Comment number 70.

    nacho_52 wrote:
    "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones... why we don't go back to the 1966 World Cup where the Germans played Uruguay with a British ref and Argentina played England with a German ref, both with controversial situations?"


    Do you remember, in that semifinal the ref sent Rattin off midway through for no apparent reason...We still don't know why!

    And if you add that goal in the final...when the assistant didn't run to the centre until he was asked...

    That's the only way England could win the world cup.

  • Comment number 71.

    LokomotivRosco. Fair play, the build up was brilliant, he lhen leapt like a salmon and CHEATED. He didn't flick his arm out he punched the bloody thing. Cheating is cheating whether it be Maradnonna, Messi, Cole, Owen whoever

  • Comment number 72.

    Gazza to Boston? Welll....ok. Merson to Walsall? Bit of a gamble! Kinnear to Newcastle? You've got to be kidding! Maradonna to Argentina? Are you naffin' well taking the &*#%! What next? Fergie to Liverpool? Robson (either)to Man U? Avram Grant to anywhere......

  • Comment number 73.

    I quote from Wikipedia (so that the younger ones can learn how England won their only World Cup):

    "Argentina's Antonio Rattín became the first player to be sent off in a senior international football match at Wembley. Afterwards, the German referee, Rudolf Kreitlein, said that he had sent off Rattín BECAUSE HE DIDN'T LIKE HOW HE LOOKED AT HIM (IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT THE REFEREE DID NOT UNDERSTAND SPANISH).

    Rattín at first refused to leave the field and eventually had to be escorted by several policemen. Only after 30 minutes England was able to score against an Argentinian team with 10 players.

    This game, even today, is called by Argentina as el robo del siglo (the robbery of the century)"

  • Comment number 74.

    NikosBg. That is a good point about Rattin who seemed to be picked on by the referee. England had to dig in against the team that was the best in the tournament that year. The sending off was wrong but England were lucky to win but how often have we seen the best team in a game get beaten. There was certainly, in my honest opinion, no cheating by England.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Diego Diego Diego. Do never understimate the little man. I know he is not a good coach, but he wont be alone there. Grondona is a mafioso, disgusting and full of crap. Hopefully, Diego will the energy from his heart do bring again happiness to people. do not understimate the little man. English fans know about that. I want to wish good luck to him and a happy birthday

  • Comment number 77.

    "no that's deliberate handball in the box, a red card, off you go fatty."


    lol red card for deliberate handball, in which rulebook did you read that mate, the 1966 WC rulebook maybe? hehe

  • Comment number 78.

    I'm too young to remember the 1986 World Cup. I don't even care about the 'hand of God' incident - every country cheats from time to time, including us.

    What I find distasteful about Diego is his seemingly sheer lack of respect he has for himself and his own reputation. Performance-enhancing drugs, class-A recreational drugs, pointing guns at paparazzi...actually, I admit the latter may be tempting at times, but that doesn't excuse it.

    And this man is supposed to be a role model for Messi et al? Diego may inspire affection, nostalgia, and respect for his talent, but that doesn't mean he'll inspire respect for his intellect.

  • Comment number 79.

    Just wanted to say great blog Tim. I'm 15 and this blog teaches me a lot about not just South American football but South America in general, job well done.

    As for Maradona, mentally he can whip the players into shape, he has that character that the players would respect and put their all in for. However, it's whether or not he has the skill, tactically and whatnot. We'll wait and see.

  • Comment number 80.

    agree with all what you said.

    the players cheat, not the countries. I know what you mean with that but it's a difference we have to make.
    Maradona maybe is a role model as a player but certainly not as a person. In any case the guy had an addiction and and got recovered from it (by the way I'm not sure if he took performance enhancing drugs, rather the contrary), he's trying to rule his life... I don't like him as a person but fair play to him.

  • Comment number 81.

    Only English fans call the man a cheat????

    I think the world realises that the man is a cheat. However, I'm sure they also acknowledge his genius with the football and recognise that his ability was worthy of winning the world cup back in 86.

    As for his managerial skills, this can only end in tears.

  • Comment number 82.

    Tera Baap - the only thing Maradona has got that other coaches don't is a record of alcohol, drug and beef-burger abuse. Coaches who have won titles and achieved things do have respect, earned through their management career. Don't get me wrong, for what Maradona did in his playing career he deserves to be respected as an all-time great, a talent unsurpassed even by the likes of Ronaldo and Zidane. However, his off the field record is - well I'm not sure what word to use, abysmal or tragic? Both then. He's one of those guys, like Gazza, who despite all his character flaws, people still love him because a) he was a fantastic footballer and icon of the game and b) because he's as passionate as they come. But, would England put Gazza in charge? Not even 5 years on weightwatchers and a continuous passing of drug tests would tempt even the most optimistic of England fans. Great to have around in the media, but not management material. I really do hope he succeeds but every brain cell I have tells me that this strange decision will lead to very little success on the field. It's an unusual decision and one has to wonder if Maradona has other powers at work here, surely any sensible association would not put their national team in the care of a lovable but entirely inexperienced and flawed man. I'm not suggesting God of course, he has bigger matters to deal with, such as the cridit crunch and Jonathon Ross and Russel Brand (no heaven for them), but there must be pressure from somewhere. It's not sensible and you wonder if Argentina is actually a place in Newcastle.

  • Comment number 83.

    This appointment is bonkers. Maradonna was one of the greatest footballers ever, we all agree, but he has virtually no coaching experience, he is an unstable personality with well documented substance abuse problems, and has no concepts about modern training and tactics.

    This one is a train wreck waiting to happen.

    On the bright side, if they stick with him through the World Cup, it's one less contender for the trophy, because despite the Argies talents on the pitch, a team needs tactics, management and leadership off it - and Maradonna cannot provide those things in the required quantity.

  • Comment number 84.

    is the beeb not liking my comments again today???

  • Comment number 85.

    I'd prefer to see Pekerman or Tocalli return so that Argentina can pick up where they left off in 2006 World Cup playing sublime football. Pekerman probably knows he made mistakes but he brought pride back to Argentina after all the rubbish they went through first with Maradona then with the failures following that.

    I dont think Maradona should be rewarded for all the damage hes done to his country's reputation.

  • Comment number 86.

    Surely this is what football is about: emotion. The emotion of Maradona combined with the emotion of the Argentine players and fans will be a wonderful, unique experience. as an Englishman, I fail to see how Paul Gascoigne managing England can even be compared. How many ten year old English kids know about Gascoigne? I don;t expect there to be too many. But how many 10 year old Argentines know about Maradona? This is folklore in the making.

    For all those England fans who question why somebody of Maradona's character should manage Argentina - we live in a country where Joe Kinnear thinks it is acceptable to praise the "bravery" of his convicted criminal midfielder to score a penalty, and a manager who purposely ended the career of another player during his playing days is idolised and called the future of management at Sunderland. Which is worse?

  • Comment number 87.

    An ex-footballer, not anybody but the best in history, who has been there and done it all, an inspirational icon for fans and younger players alike. Having alongside a coaching expert who guided him to World Cup glory in 1986. Managing what is the world's best team with the world's best player in it. It's the ideal scenario and recipe for success.

    It'd be so nice to see the god lift the World Cup once more.

  • Comment number 88.

    MOYESYSIDE - someone else who thinks Maradona let his COUNTRY down??? Where is this coming from?

    I know many Argentineans and although they all believe he perhaps let himself down on a few occasions, never will they accept that Maradona disgraced his country? That's ridiculous...

  • Comment number 89.


    I dont know that much about Pele really. Its like Bobby Moore, we're just told how good he was. Maradona for me is different as Ive seen him in action in 3 world cups and plenty of internationals over the years. For me out of those 2 he is the greatest. Personally though I dont like players who have the reputation for winning things single handedly when they play a team sport. I think Zidane has to be regarded as better than both Pele and Maradona really. A player who stood out in a talented side that won things and thats just at international level.

    Maradona was a great player, but like George Best theres just something odious about him that transcends all his efforts on the pitch.

  • Comment number 90.

    "Only English fans call the man a cheat????"


  • Comment number 91.

    88. LokomotiveRosco

    He made Argentina all about HIM. I dont doubt for a minute that he is highly regarded in Argentina. I imagine the payback over the Falklands war for the Hand of god goal and the second goal which is regarded as possibly the greatest ever in world cup history are good reasons alone. But I think if i was Argentinian then Cambiasso's goal v Serbia, a TEAM effort, which followed a decline in Argentina on the world stage both in terms of the football played and the tarnished reputation due to Maradona's expulsion in 1994 would bring me far more pride.

    I think of the 3 things he most famous for - hand of god and solo goal in 86 and the crazy eyes in 94 - the 2 negatives outweigh the positives. He let himself down more than anything else.

  • Comment number 92.

    Here is a link that describes why I agree with Tim Vickery.

  • Comment number 93.

    Having a self-proclaimed revolutionary as a national team manager certainly makes a change. Sure I was angry about the Hand of God goal, but that's all in the past now. There's no denying his talent as player.

    He will command respect and instill passion into the team. There's plenty of experienced international managers who have tried and failed in the past, so why not give the man a chance.

    I like his preferred Argentina team. It's none of my business I suppose, but I still think having a good Argentina side, like having Brazil on good form, is vital for world football. I would certainly prefer them to win the World Cup than Italy or Germany.

    So good luck Diego.

  • Comment number 94.

    I would compare this in a sense to Staunton being the Ireland manager. No where near Maradona as a footballer, Staunton was one of the most consistent performers in a green shirt and certainly a player who won quite a bit with his various clubs in his career and was at the world cup and european cup too I believe as a player. He was solid in defence.
    As a manager he was crap.
    Keegan as a player was brilliant, apart from a quick rush to top of the premier league with newcastle, he will be seen as a crap manager, a bottler.
    Given for every team there are 22 guys and one manager, then in those 22 perhaps one or two will make a great manager, one or two will make a good manager...and the other 18 will be crap... I don't see Pele, Zidane, Rumminige, Socrates, Cantona, Romario, Weah, Blokin, managing , and I don't see Maradona doing either. But if he does pull it off, holy wow and then some.

  • Comment number 95.

    Seems like more of an emotional appointment by the Argentine FA.

  • Comment number 96.

    I've lived and worked in different parts of Europe - still do - for the last ten years. Everyone I've ever met considers Maradonna one of the very best. No-one else calls him a cheat.

    Time to swallow the sour grapes, England, and move on.

    Some of you are starting to sound like Palin and McCain (and their strange insular supporters).

  • Comment number 97.

    Top 10 of completely inappropriate choices for national managers:


  • Comment number 98.

    Having Maradona manage Argentine is like having Gazza manage England. It will all end in tears!

  • Comment number 99.

    Good Article again Mr Vickery

    although u want to be careful not to over exhort yourself you know, after all you have wrote 2 articles for the beeb this week. hahaha lol

    i agree that Maradonna is most definitely not the best choice for the job, obviously the right choice should of been Sergio Batista, closely followed by M.A. Russo and C. Bianchi, but there is undoubtedly something that 'the greatest ever cheat' himself will bring to the job, as referred to the aura and high esteem that he is held in, in his own country. he will inspire and get something out of the players that possibly others wont, maybe that is the decision behind the appointment, but inevitably i still feel that it will all end in tears due to his limited coaching capacity, but if he has a good team of coaches behind him

    then who knows what will happen.

  • Comment number 100.

    Top 10 list of totally inappropriate choices of national manager:

    1. Argentina - Maradona
    2. Denmark - Stig Tofting
    3. Scotland - Duncan Ferguson
    4. Australia - Mark Bosnich
    5. England - Gazza/Joey Barton
    6. Wales - Mickey Thomas
    7. Columbia - Faustino Asprilla
    8. Romania - Adrian Mutu
    9. France - Eric Cantona
    10. Brazil - Edmundo


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