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Maradona outmanoeuvred in Argentine battle of wills

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Tim Vickery | 07:21 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

He was never likely to go quietly. "I have been lied to and betrayed," said Diego Maradona in response to losing his job as Argentina coach. He should have seen it coming.

In October 2008, on the eve of his appointment, I made the following comment on this website:

"Argentina are not in the habit of sacking coaches. Either they resign or their contract comes to an end. On Monday, Julio Grondona [Argentine Football Association president] 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."

Time has told. Maradona walked into the trap. As he commented, his spell in charge was the shortest of any Argentina coach in the last 35 years.

He inherited a team in crisis and took them to the World Cup quarter-finals this summer.

There were some bad moments along the way but also, especially in the early stages in South Africa, flashes of inspiration from a team that appeared to be happy under his command.

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In terms of results, though, he is hung by his own words. Four years ago, Jose Pekerman's side returned to a heroes' welcome after reaching the quarter-finals in Germany. Maradona said at the time that he could see no reason for celebrations, but the comparison is not favourable.

Pekerman's team lost to the hosts on penalties in a game where they were undeniably the better side. Maradona's line-up met the Germans at the same stage on neutral ground and were taken apart.

That 4-0 defeat on 3 July left the feeling that, for all the controversial absentees, he had the players in his squad who could have won the game.

Carried away with the euphoria of the early wins, Maradona picked an unbalanced side and played into the hands of the German counter-attack. It was the moment when his inexperience was found out.

Back in October 2008, the idea was that Maradona would have an adviser rich in experience - Carlos Bilardo, his coach when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986.

But their relationship quickly broke down and Bilardo was sidelined with administrative tasks. Maradona, meanwhile, surrounded himself with his gang - Alejandro Mancuso, from the 1994 World Cup squad, and Hector Enrique from 1986.

There was also the case of Oscar Ruggeri, the much capped international centre-back. Maradona fought to have Ruggeri in his coaching staff.

The Argentine FA would not accept him - the consequence of a personal fall-out with the president of San Lorenzo. Ruggeri, then, might have been consulted but he was never an official member of the team.

This rolled on for years but there is little in Ruggeri's coaching CV to suggest that he could have made a difference.

President of the Argentine FA since 1979, Julio Grondona is the Maradona of sports politics. He knows all the angles. He found a way to get rid of Maradona without actually sacking him.

He praised the coach's work and gave him the chance to continue - but with Maradona's position weakened by that 4-0 defeat, Grondona went for the vulnerable spot. The new contract was subject to conditions - Maradona would have to make wholesale changes to his back-up staff.

There was only ever going to be one answer.

The Germany game proves that there was a need for more experience on the touchline. Nevertheless, there is something noble in Maradona's loyalty to his assistants.

It is this type of conduct that made Maradona loved by almost everyone who played alongside him. For all the size of his ego, he has always been a team player - who now goes down with his team, bringing to an end a spell of 637 days, which was as colourful as it was controversial.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I actually thought Argentina might win, but now I realise how stupid I was. Could you imagine putting Gazza in charge of the England squad. It would be the crossbar challenge every day in training for a week, and then the pub.

  • Comment number 2.

    Maradona was a good manager, given time he'd have done well with the talented squad that he had at his disposal

  • Comment number 3.


    See the issue was Diego was that he believed he was bigger than Don Julio, which nobody is in Argentina, and I mean nobody. Diego disrespected Don Julio by not going to the meeting but yet going to visit Hugo Chavez. Mr. Vickery, what do you think about Diego sabotaging his chances to come back as coach? He did all the WRONG moves to get under Don Julio's skin. Diego came out and said, he would coach only his terms, did not want anybody replaced(NOT even his kitman), skipped meetings. I think this was sabotage under Diego so he did not have to continue. He probably felt he was not up for it. As a Argentino I am happy that he is gone.

    Already Bilardo came out with a list that puts Ever Banega,Fernando Gago,Pablo Zabaleta. Batista will take over shortly and a coach will likely be named by the year is over. Sabella is likely the front-runner and they will wait until the Apertura season is over in Argentina. Argentina is back in business.

  • Comment number 4.

    Maradona's not the full shilling, but he's a hell of a character. Really enjoyed watching his team on the pitch, and his antics on the touchline. Don't think he'd ever win the WC as coach, though. Not without someone with real tactical nous to advise him. Of course, he'd need to actually take the advice, too..

  • Comment number 5.

    Great blog.

    I thought that Maradona's tactics against Germany were pretty inept. His 4-3-3 was totally at sea against the Germans' deep 4-4-2, which isolated the Argentine front three and out-numbered Argentina in midfield. You could see the frustration in the way that Messi kept tracking back.

    This said, he's a great character, and let's hope we see him back in management.

  • Comment number 6.

    Diego will be back to manage Argentina again one day. He has unfinished Business.

  • Comment number 7.

    I really feel for Diego, the players and fans absolutely adored him, he put his heart and soul into making the team as successful as possible. He really was betrayed by the politics back in Argentina and victimised by media.

    Diedo Maradona legend forever!

  • Comment number 8.

    Tim, can you elaborate on the actual problems between Grondona and Ruggeri ? it seems to have been a problem all the way during El Diego's reign as manager, also I am an Arsenal fan and Damian Martinez will be joining this season to begin his Arsenal career, do you have any information on him ? how highly rated is he ? what's his strengths as a goalkeeper ?

  • Comment number 9.

    At least his stint in charge showed true passion. Something sadly missing from England's team and performances!

    I hope he gets another shot at managing the Argies in a few years time.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great article Tim,

    I am very saddened by Maradona's departure but I could see it coming.
    It would of been the icing on the cake for the greatest player ever to play the game to have success as a manager with his beloved Argentina, but it wasnt to be, his inexperience was found out against Germany, I still dont know why Veron didnt play.
    I worry for Maradona now, being the manager of the national team gave him something to get up in the morning for, I hope he doesnt go back to his dark days.
    What you say is very true, his loyalty towards his players and staff could never be questioned, he is just one of the lads, and put his heart and soul in to football, only ever be one Diego Armando Maradona.

    Now id love to see Bielsa get a second chance as the boss, but I doubt he will get it, I think it will between Russo, Diaz or Bianchi, and maybe Simeone.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tim, maybe you can confirm this.

    As far as I rememeber Argentina had a very poor qualifying under his leadership and only transformed in the WC due to the change in formation. This formation change was not DM's idea, rather put to him as a 'do this' scenario. So in fact he had very little dynamic impact on the Argentina squad, the positives we saw were down to someone else but the reason they went out, down to his tactical naiveity when in charge of the reigns during a game.

  • Comment number 12.

    Maradona was never the man for the job, tactics were to adventurous from the off, squad and team selections bizzare to say the least, he insisted on everything Argentina did got through Messi, etc etc.

    I was totally gobsmacked (and told you as much at the time) at your blog previous to the WC when you were going on about Veron being the answer to Argentina's problems, Cambiasso not deserving a place in the squad as he and Mascherano couldn't play together and basically talking up Argentina's chances of winning. Considering you had previously provided an excellent insight into South American football one has to wonder what you were thinking on that occasion? How on earth could you be so wide of the mark? What had you been drinking?

  • Comment number 13.

    Feel he wasn't up to it. Great to watch, just like some of the football played by his team, but I think he made a mistake leaving out Zanetti, Cambiasso, Zabaletta and a few others. Experienced internationals who all play in the top leagues, I feel they could have offered on the pitch tactical discipline, as well as experience to help the youngsters. I know Zanetti is old but I am sure he could have managed this one last WC considering he did so well in the Champions League and Serie A this season, the Argentines were tragically weak at fullback.
    Also maybe could have had Riquelme in there somewhere but anyway all this is moot. Maradona has now gone and it's time for someone else to step in for what should be an exciting period in Argentine football; A new generation developing with a new (and hopefully more astute) coach. If only things looked as bright for England.

  • Comment number 14.

    Where does maradona go from here ? Will one of the big Argentinian clubs give him a chance as coach ?
    Will Maradona be able to cope with the day to day work of a club manager ?
    The first time he tried club management he didnt last long, but with the added years, experience with the national team, and the improvement in his health and stability will he make a better fist of it next time around ?

  • Comment number 15.

    It's about time that this prima uomo (male prima donna) was put in his place. Looks like the Argentine FA have scored a winning goal without requiring the use of a hand: they used their feet and kicked him out. Well done to them for having the guts to stand up to this self-opinionated little cheat and his blackmail demands.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm sorry that he's gone. I never thought that I would forgive him for that "hand of God" goal, but he was the one real character of the World Cup, and I warmed to him. Seeing the "True Stories" documentary on him on Channel 4 cemented this feeling. He's a loose cannon, but a very entertaining one!

  • Comment number 17.

    "Maradona was a good manager, given time he'd have done well with the talented squad that he had at his disposal"

    Maradona was NOT a good manager - man management perhaps, but tactically no. Any manager could manage Argentina well with the players available.

    The telling piont in particular was the game against Germany - they were totally overrun in midfield and he did NOTHING. Veron should have been on when it was still only 1-0 to help out Maschereno and gain some sort of parity in middle. You can have all the attacking talent in the world but if they don't get the ball...

  • Comment number 18.

    A friend of mine sent me the link to this article , this was I replied:

    "I'd love to translate this and send it to he newspapers back in Argentina , they wouldn't believe that BBC in ENGLAND talk about Maradona with so much respect and objectivity , even tho he probably is responsible of one of the saddest moments in English football."

    I'm Argentinean and I'd like to have this kind of press in my country.

    Thanks


  • Comment number 19.

    I think Grondona should be sacked for giving Maradonna false hope that he wanted him to stay. I read all his comments before and after the defeat. He is of no use to the AFA and he has overstayed his welcome.

  • Comment number 20.

    Without the albatross of Maradonna, Argentinian football can hopefully find a competent manager and progress to becoming a major force for the 2014 World Cup. His initial appointment was based entirely on sentiment and not managerial competence, and his most recents rants are the true testament to this individual's character.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ Friendly Card (post 5): Germany definitely did not play 4-4-2 at the world cup

  • Comment number 22.

    Maradona continues to inspire and entertain to this day but as a professional his exploits have garnered controversy, incompetence and arrogance in equal measures since his Napoli days. Since winning the world cup in the eighties and transforming also rans Napoli into a Scudetto winning side as a player he's fallen out with every single club he's played for or managed since, quite often to do with his outrageous demands which have in the past covered up a more deeply seated incompetence/lack of fitness/addiction. So it suits Maradona as much as Grondona to insist on the kitman's inclusion as an excuse to leave.

    That he is a national hero in Argentina on a par with most saints cannot obscure the fact that passion and past victories don't make a brilliant manager. The guy was an amazing player and his ability to keep bouncing back is admirable and it is great to see such an entertaining character in the world of sport, but these things alone don't make him a good manager. If he was really passionate about management he should go back to Argentina and work his way through the ranks of a club side, perhaps his darling Boca, but somehow I can't see him doing things by the book.

  • Comment number 23.

    Thank God, Maradona was outmanouvred! I've been supporting Argentina since '78 and never seen any of their teams being as disorganized as his!

    He was a magnificent player, is a good motivator but as a coach I rate His Prima Donna Highness as high as the totally incompetent Domenech.

    People tend to forget that out of their 5 matches they scored the 1st goal on 4. Out of these 4 3 WAS A HUGE MISTAKE BY THE REFEREE (Heintze vs Nigeria, Demichelis vs Greece, Tevez vs Mexico). These facts tells you how lucky they were.

    This very talented crop of players deserve a decent coach not a kissing machine!

  • Comment number 24.

    12 - in the run up to the world cup one of the fears in argentina was that the side was too cautious - he changed the balance in the late stages.

    the pro-cambiasso lobby ignore that he was one of the weaker players in the team maradona inherited - when he dropped him right at the start of his reign there was not the slightest protest.

    with veron instead of tevez argentina won 1-0 away to germany at the start of march, with the germans having one shot on target in 90 minutes.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 20. At 11:44am on 29 Jul 2010, ilokid wrote:
    Without the albatross of Maradonna, Argentinian football can hopefully find a competent manager and progress to becoming a major force for the 2014 World Cup. His initial appointment was based entirely on sentiment and not managerial competence, and his most recents rants are the true testament to this individual's character.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    I couldn't agree more with that. I said when he was appointed that it would all end in tears.

    I saw a piece on Australian TV where a number of Argentinian fans were interviewed and the consensus seemed to be that 'he was a brilliant player but a poor coach.'

    Maradonna runs on emotion and that's not good for a coach. You need balance, objectivity and tactics. 8 wins and 7 defeats in 15 games just doesn't cut it for a team with the talents at Argentinas disposal.

    I don't rate Maradona as a person or a coach but the Argentinian FA played this one to perfection!

  • Comment number 26.

    "Maradona was NOT a good manager - man management perhaps, but tactically no. Any manager could manage Argentina well with the players available."

    ANY manager? Alfio Basile was in charge prior to Argentina and if he had carried on they would even have qualified for the World Cup!

    People have such short memories, Maradona took a team on the verge of being knocked out and got them through qualification, into the world cup, breezed past the first stage and into the quarter finals.

    How did Capello do? Stuck to 4-4-2 despite the fact that it is woefully outdated, failed to motivate his players, struggle in an easy group stage and failed to meet expectations - yet because "he's a great manager" he stays in his job.

  • Comment number 27.

    I would like to believe that the HAND OF GrOnDona had a hidden hand in this somewhere.

  • Comment number 28.

    I thought Maradona did a very good job as Argentina manager.

    Yes he did.

    You're all calling him a clown but until the Germany game they played good football.

    I mean, it's not like a respected coach with a great CV could manage an international team that concedes 4 to the Germans could it? Oh hang on...

    Also I see people saying that anyone could get good results with the squad that Argentina had. Wrong.

    Argentina's squad was lopsided. They have plenty of great world class forwards and attacking midfielders, granted.

    But...at the back? Sergio Romero is not a world class keeper. Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Burdisso and Martin Demichelis are NOT world class defenders.

    Gabriel Heinze and Juan Sebastian Veron are still good players, but past their prime.

    So it was not a given that Argentina could sail merrily into the semi finals or final, even with a 'decent coach'. Sure Maradona made tactical mistakes in the Germany game, but so did Capello when England played Germany. And I honestly don't think Argentina's defence is any better than England's defence, in fact with Ashley Cole at left back for England, Argentina's is probably worse.

    Maradona did a decent job. It's worth pointing out that he was no worse than Pekerman or Basile, and he did better than Marcelo Bielsa in 2002 (and Argentina had a better balanced squad in 2002 as well!)

  • Comment number 29.

    Argentina were self-destructing by the time when Maradona was hired. They played awful football, were in danger of not making it to the world cup, and I was certain that Diego would be the final nail in the coffin. It was a complete joke; I wanted them to crash and burn.

    Half a year later, and I've completely changed my mind. Maradona injected energy into the squad. They had such a stupid attack-heavy team, Maradona looked like he had no idea what he was doing. But they were ploughing through teams, going on a winning streak, scraping through to South Africa, and critically speaking, had a good tournament. During this team, I completely fell in love with Maradona and Argentina. I once had nothing but hatred for their arrogance, but the way they played attacking football and gave defence an after-thought, I couldn't get enough of it.

    So thank you Diego, the Argentine FA may have it against you, but you certainly haven't lost any fans. In fact, you've gained quite a few.

  • Comment number 30.

    If Maradona was the best the Argentine Football Association could come up with, then they deserve everything they get. He showed as a coach he was utterly clueless when it came down to the crunch against teams who were better organised, could attack just as well as they could, but having a manager who could exploit other teams weaknesses.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am glad he has gone!

    What a pathetic role model, and coach of a national team!?!?!?! Drugs, cheating, gun crime to name but a few. Horrible man who was once the greatest footballer to live. Tada Diego and dont come back!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Diego was always short of credentials for the role of coach. However, he did pick up a hot potato and squeezed Argentina into the World Cup. The World Cup campaign itself was ok. The loss to Germany was predictable. I am from Argentina (though have lived abroad for the last twenty years). From a pure footballing point of view, there are better people for the job (Bianchi, Ramon Diaz). However, this does not excuse what the AFA has done. Julio Grondona is an untouchable corrupt piece of dirt (right out of Blatter's crop) and the sooner he is removed the better. The problem is that he never will because he bribes the presidents of the Argentine clubs who will never turn their back on him whilst the money flows. In that respect, Diago's parting words were 100% true.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm not sure Maradona really wanted to continue. I'm not questioning his loyalty to his assistants, and he certainly wasn't going to continue without them, but I can't help but feel that both Maradona and Grondona ended up getting what they wanted.

    Tim - when do you think a new coach will be put in place full-time? I wonder if the AFA will use the next few months/friendlies as a dry run for Batista, to evaluate whether he would be suitable for the job full-time. At the same time, it allows them to run the rule over several potential candidates during the upcoming Apertura.

  • Comment number 34.

    Argentina should be winning the World Cup. Maradona was the best player and a good coach and he should have been more cautious against Germany. I think I predicted Germany would over run them and Tim said as much.

    Personally, I loved the overall team play of Pekermans' side. He had balance and they should have beaten Germany but for a poor referee and a predictable Ayala. Let's not forget they lost their main keeper in that game and left Messi on the bench.

    What are the chances of getting Pekerman back? His team were as enjoyable as Barcelona-so bring him back!

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the AFA have got this right, but maybe in a slightly devious way.
    Maradona is a man for the big stage. If Argentina qualified for the finals, it was going to allow Maradona to strut his stuff on the world stage and lift the players with his quirky charisma to a team performance that might just be enough to come in under the radar and win the World Cup.
    It worked for a while, but when they came up against players of equal ability and a coach hew knew his stuff (Germany), Maradona was found out for what he is. An idol with little in the way of real coaching ability.
    He has served his purpose for the AFA and they have manufactured a way of disposing of him without actually firing him. He keeps his God like status and the AFA hope that they can find a real coach in order to launch a bid in 2014.

  • Comment number 36.

    Maradona was a better player then Pele and would have scored more goals had he played in the mickey mouse leagues. However, he made an impact on Italian football that I have yet to see beaten.

    Everyone remembers his hand of god goal but in recent history England have produced worse cheaters Michael Owen(1998, 2002).

    That said, he is not what the side need right now. However, all coaches have a bad habit of playing people out of position. This is an international side and it's bet to play players who know their position!

    Still, he did play players from lower leagues and this is something England should take note of! He also bound the team together and that is not what Capello, a fine coach, did!

  • Comment number 37.

    Maradona seems to have a problem accepting responsibility for his actions - often throughout his life in football and his outside life.

    He blamed his trainer for his 1994 drugs test failure, paternity of numerous children which was subsequently proven, denial of drugs and alcohol addiction and of course 'blaming' God for that goal against the English.

    Now he blames Bilardo. To blame a man under whose success and international guidance Maradona rose to fame.

    Its seems Maradona would rather blame anyone but himself for his own tactical naievety and failings

  • Comment number 38.

    Many great people have an ego problem and blame others. Capello, Mourinho Ferguson, Benitez and Wenger all blame others for their problem.

    One person who is humble and great is Josep "Pep" Guardiola!

  • Comment number 39.

    For all the size of his ego, he has always been a team player
    ---------

    Such a good team player that he would give the board an ultimatum regaring keeping the backroom staff that HE wanted rather than work with those who might well form a better TEAM that could take Argentina's TEAM farther?

    Utter rubbish. Yes he has been manouvered out by someone who has little sense of what a team means but that does not make Maradona all of a sudden a great team player.

    Maradonna NEEDS someone with some tactical acumen alongside him if he is ever to be a successful coach. He is a great figurehead and I'm sure perfectly capable of helping and inspiring the players but the team needs a plan as well.

    That Maradonna obviously refuses to accept this shows that he is not the right man for the job.

  • Comment number 40.

    Maradona proved to everyone what a truly awful coach he is. Argentina had by far the best team at the World Cup but the little man was completely out of his depth, his tactics were embarrassing

    As a manager, unlike in life he's a lightweight.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

    Maradona is the best player or atleast one of the best players of this era.

    He was a decent coach but he listened more to his HEART.He needed to listen to his HEAD also.He did not do it while selecting the squad leaving out Cambiasso,Zannetti and could not persuade Riquelme to come back.So the team failed miserably when they got a tough opponent.

    Again, he went with his heart (Loyalty) to his backroom staff which led to his ousting.

    I think it is a good thing to happen to Argentine football and they get a good coach who can lead them to the world cup glory in 2014 with the current golden genaration at his disposal.They must concentrate on strengthing their defence as they are very strong in attack and midfield creativity.Only thing is that they must stop conceeding goals.

    Lastly, i hope that Deigo Maradona does not fall back to his old dark days and continues as a football pundit or something as he is really a genius with the ball at his foot and maybe in the future gets one more shot as Argentina COACH.

  • Comment number 43.

    @28

    As an Argentine I'm glad he's gone and NO he did no play good football. Unless by good football you mean give the ball to Messi, Tevez or Higauin and see what they can do with it.

    The last Argentine manager that played great football was Pekerman.

    It was a disaster from start to finish.

    He not only left Zanetti and Cambiasso on the sidelines, but forgot to call up Milito, Banega, Lisandro Lopez and countless others. He got into a fight with Riquelme who was the only one that could bring out the best in Messi and so on and so forth.

  • Comment number 44.

    Such bitterness in the responses, towards arguably the greatest footballer the world has ever seen. England didn't seem to do too well throughout the entire tourney, in fact much worse than Argentina - should we compare their manager to Gazza as well?

    I thought he did ok, but as Tim says got carried away with how well things were going and was incredibly naive in the knock-out rounds. I wonder if Argentina had taken the lead in the Germany game how it would've turned out.

    Too many fans think players and managers must be perfect or it shows they're simply not good enough. Perhaps he would've taken the German lesson on board and the side could have continued to progress? The team certainly progressed the longer he was there and the players appeared to love him.

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    @44

    Do you know what Maradona said when I journalist asked him if he had rewatched the Germany game again since the 4-0 loss?
    "No lo vi, ni lo voy a ver", which translates as: "I didn't watch it, and I'm not going to watch it". So no, I don't think he's learned a lesson.

    And the players loved him? I'm sure Riquelme, Zanetti, Cambiasso and Lisandro Lopez agree with you :)

  • Comment number 47.

    And now they have Bilardo. The one that put the dope in the Brazilians' water (he never denied it). He's the one who, as coach of Sevilla, forbid his trainer to attend a player from the opposing side. "Pisalo, pisalo" (stamp on him) was his advise. He even had the ball boys sinchronised to hold up giving the ball to opponents if Sevilla was winning.

    Nice guy.

    Nothing he does would ever surprise me.

  • Comment number 48.

    Those who claim pekerman is a better coach are referring to a coach who had the upper hand in a match and took off his best player with 15 mins to go. Maradona had the good sense to play to his teams strengths its attacking prowess. If a manager is a bad man-manager then he should never be a manager right? As to Maradona almost not qualifying Argentina for the finals....get your facts straight, the AFA turned to him at the eleventh hour and he got them out of a rut...he may not be world domination material yet but getting to the last eight with your first try shows potential.

  • Comment number 49.

    Tim, you seem to be ever so slightly in the pro-Maradona camp, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, and i can appreciate the way he united the Argentina side under his leadership, it seems to me you are mistakening Maradona's outright stubborness for loyalty.

    I was struck by Jose Luis Meiszner's comments (reported on the BBC website a couple of days ago)...

    "We did not see any intention (from Maradona) to show humility, to say that things should have been done better.

    "There was no evaluation, no review, no conclusions. These are the things you have to think about in order to think about the future."

    You can't really argue with his point here. After being well and truly humbled by Germany surely any coach worth his salt would sit down and evaluate what went wrong in order to improve. If Maradona was not willing to do this (by first of all at least being open to changing some of his technical staff) then in my opinion the AFA have done nothing wrong.

    If Maradona had been allowed to stay on with all his current staff then i can imagine lessons would not have been learned and at Brazil 2014 we may well have seen Argentina 0 Spain 6 !

    Would you not agree?

  • Comment number 50.

    If Tim is to be believed it seems Grondona is quite a Machiavellian manipulator. Diego couldn't have really fancied his chances of a second innings. I am inclined to go with #33 toby80's view that both of them got what they wanted using their own special methods- a clean break from each other.

    Lot of the blame for their loss to Germany has to be shouldered by Maradona for his lack of tactical nous. His emotional rejection of some classy players like Cambiasso and Requelme and clinging to an average defender like Demichellis was weak and disappointing. I am also skeptical about the stock he set upon Mascherano, both as a defender and a leader.

    I naively thought perhaps Maradona's experience as a coach would serve to instill some wisdom that should earn good results in future. But with so much manipulation and jockeying at the top in AFA it was only a pipe dream.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hey, Diego. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. Some you win, some you lose. What goes around....get my drift? Maradonna is hardly the yardstick of good ethics is he. Life's a bitch Diego, suck it up and move on. Everyone in England is smiling. I like the comparison to Gazza Tony, nice one.

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

    49 - do i don't think i'm in the maradona camp - just trying to be fair. i said at the time that he wouldn't have been my choice.

    he did say yesterday that he got some things wrong - which seems hard to deny. perhaps he was too proud to admit that in front of the directors, people he regards as the enemy.

  • Comment number 54.

    Poor Maradona, they have given him "the stab in the back", well actually "the 4 goals at the back" (of the net).

    I´d like to see Lothar Matthaeus as Argentine´s manager, he´s very underrated, you know. ;D

  • Comment number 55.

    @46: Ok so lets consider what you're suggesting. Diego Maradona is incapable of learning? Stubborn maybe, naive to the point of stupidity at times yes, but to learn nothing from a 4-0 drubbing at the World Cup? I find that extremely unlikely.

    He wouldn't need to watch the game again to have learned from it - he watched it all from the sidelines. I only watched it once along with probably 99% of everyone else who did, and I think it was pretty obvious they were too cavalier. I'm sure he would not want to go through that pain again, aren't you? Seems rather odd to think he would change absolutely nothing at all.

    He doesn't strike me as the type of coach that would watch games over and over to analyse where things went wrong - I'm sure in his mind there were a number of failures.

    And who cares if players that aren't in contention of playing like the coach or not, what difference would that make? He has decided not to pick them, I'm sure he doesn't really care that much. I would've picked Zanetti every time, the rest I'm not that bothered about to be honest. Cambiasso had a great year but he wasn't doing it for Argentina so fair enough.

  • Comment number 56.

    Couple of people here said that Maradona was the greatest player ever. I think it was Pele.

    You know why?

    Pele has (and always had even when he was down) DIGNITY!!


    The current 'lying and being cheated' story tells you everything about his Prima Donna personality. Dignity is still as far as from him as it was when he first commented the Hand of God situation. He is a bad winner and a worse looser. A selfish clown.

  • Comment number 57.

    49 - do i don't think i'm in the maradona camp - just trying to be fair. i said at the time that he wouldn't have been my choice.

    he did say yesterday that he got some things wrong - which seems hard to deny. perhaps he was too proud to admit that in front of the directors, people he regards as the enemy.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Fair enough tim, didn't know about the first bit.

    I must say i don't know enough about the AFA - and in particular Grondona - to comment on whether they are the bad guys or not.

    Maradona once again provided great entertainment at another world cup.

  • Comment number 58.

    Mardonna didnt do a bad job he took on a failed team and were playing the worst football ever seen in argentinas history, however i do think mardonna thought he was the only man the argentine fa could not touch but he was wrong, yes hes done alot of argentina football down the years and hes a god in argetnina but at the day theirs a certain line i think mardonna crossed but personally i think he should have stayed on i think they way they handled the situation was a disgrace.

    But at the end of the day results matter and the defeat to germany was the worst in their world cup history so im not surpised the fa got rid of mardonna,

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    Nice work Tim

    Also, I agree with you on Veron and the unbalanced Aregentina side against Germany. Surely if you play with a limited midfield (numbers and creativity), it make sense to play with a quarterback style of player to service the raft of attackers.

    Doubt this is the end of Diego though...

    https://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 61.

    Honestly, how can he be a good manager. Without doubt, Argentina have the most talent players in the World Cup, besides Spain might be.
    If they struggled in the qualification, the previous manager was even worse. With these players, they should at least in the final if not winning it.
    England are difference. There are no great or world class players in the England at all. Capello had done what he could. I don't think it was Capello's fault for England's poor display. But Argentina, it was Maradona's fault, from the team selection to tactics.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well done! You've managed to get "Maradona" and "noble" in the same sentence.
    Perhaps one day you'll manage the same thing for those other notorious World Cup handball cheats, Thierry Henry and Joe Jordan.

  • Comment number 63.

    #20 You win the award for the greatest phraseology ever used on this blog. "The albatross of Maradona" should certainly become the title of a book, or better still, film.

    #18 - It is interesting what you say. The phenomenon hails from a new generation. My father still sees Diego as a nasty cheat whereas I admire the rebellious, unpredictable nature of the man. This is a familiar occurrence of the generation gap,and was typified by the Fiorentina shirt with Mutu on the back I saw in the park recently.

    #61 - He is a good coach, manager is a slightly different word. There were improvements in Argentina's play, form, and structure following Diego's arrival. He did have incredible players at his disposal, but most were attackers, the defence was always suspect.

    The right back spot was never sorted, Otamendi was dirge against Germany. So this Zanetti debate is still relevant, what were the real reasons for his ommission?

  • Comment number 64.

    Maradonna clearly had the passion and pride to be an outstanding motivator for Argentina however his single-mindedness and over-emotional involvement without experience were likely to be key factors that caused the failure. As a player he was unparalled in terms of talent and became the best ever player...after years of playing. The same parallels in his could have been nurtured with the same investment in experience - without these opportunities how can we learn!?
    We all know he's an emotional person but he is the exception because of his iconic status. Those in power must should have accepted this and cut off their noses to spite their faces to give him the chance but the same old story of instant success.
    In my opinion, he was right to drop Cambiasso though Riquelme would have been the key to Argentina & Messi's success and Zanetti/Samule should have been in the team.

  • Comment number 65.

    #64 - Agree with everything you say except about Riquelme. One of the most overrated footballers ever (disagree? :))

  • Comment number 66.

    I am just surprised at how many people actually like Maradona as a coach. Just goes to show that it is not what you do but how you present yourself. Maradona showed he had the passion, what with all the over jubilant touchline antics and kisses to his players. When it came to tactics he showed he has almost none.
    Good riddance, IMO. I am particularly glad for Messi. Atleast he won't have to play in a tactically inept national side now.

  • Comment number 67.

    I believe that Riquelme was/is a very good player in fact a world class player.
    Without having to rely on pace and power, which is such a vital feature with so many average players these days, his awareness and vision coupled with skill and distribution gave him an edge over his peers. He transformed Villareal into a top team a few years ago and instilled Pekermans faith in building the 2006 team around him.
    Its rare to see players pull the strings in the midfield and most importantly retain possession comfortably. Pierlo for Italy can do this. It was a joy to watch they way Riquelme dictated the rhythm of the midfield of the 2006 team but was disappointed not have seem more of him/Argentine in that tournament. A similar player to Adiles who had rare brilliance in controlling the tempo of the game appear so effortless.

  • Comment number 68.

    I bet Maradona just told his players to go out and score more goals than his opponents before every game!! But football is much more than that. The Germans showed the English and Argies that a manager needs to have good organisation and he needs to pass this onto his team.
    Maradona knows nothing about being a manager and Capello just a small piece more than that! Pity, because the Argentinians had one of the most talented teams, at least they looked good for 4 games. The English just looked unfit and out of shape, particularly Rooney!

  • Comment number 69.

    Entertaining? yeah... Good Coach? Ahhhh I don't know. His record of 18 wins & 7 losses points towards a coach who always went for the win, so maybe there's something there that points towards a winner... I think though the theatricality & World revolves around me attitude in the end were a huge turn off.

    To me Maradona is more like the Orson Welles of Football... he got a chance to play with the biggest toy there is, the Argentinean National Team, it's this regard that makes him similar to Welles... Welles was given final cut and an obscene budget to make "Citizen Kane" --- but afterwards never recaptured that cinematic touch displayed in Kane. Maradona in '86 is almost untouchable, a shooting star, the rest however has paled in comparrison (1990 thru present). Argentina needs to forget about 1986, clearly there are players there now that can catapault Argentina back to the winner's circle, but since 1994 until now, it's almost like they're stuck in neutral, with generational players compared unfairly to Maradona the player (Batistuta, Simeone, Saviola, Tevez, and now Messi).

    Grondona's "Ernst Stavros Blofeld" like orchestrations though are a marvel when you think about it... like you said, Maradona had no idea what he really walked into.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

    My first memories of football are watching Diego Maradona during Mexico 86 and he made such an impression on me that I still watch his videos and dvds today. In my opinion he is the greatest player ever to walk the Earth, certainly better than any of those so called world class players playing for us (England).

    In terms of his management skills, he certainly lacked in some areas especially regarding choice of players etc (being a Liverpool fan I got sick of that last year with Rafa). However I find it baffling that there are people on here who say Maradona was naive against Germany and that he showed inexperience etc when our own FA are paying Fabio Capello £6 million a year! Under his WORLD CLASS management and tactics we came second to the USA during the group stages; scored only 3 goals in 4 games; and to top it all off brought on Emile Heskey for a striker when we needed to score goals!! No wonder the Scots etc think the English are arrogant and ignorant to their own flaws!

  • Comment number 72.

    I am an Anglo-Argentine who is principally a tennis fan.

    But I can assure 606 football fans that the whole appointment of Maradona was a ploy by the leftist Argentine President to recuperate lost popularity by getting the working class icon to manage the national team.

    Her (or rather her husband's) spin doctors are now blaming the middle class establishment for not renewing his contract. The fact that the ex drug addict was incompetent is irrelevant in Argentine politics.

  • Comment number 73.

    To say Maradona was a success because he wasn't as bad as the guy before him is a bit of a poor argument. Yes, Argentina were struggling to qualify before he took over but a trained chimp should be able to get a team with Messi, Di Maria, Mascherano, Higuain etc to the World Cup. Its hardly a world class achievement.

    He oversaw a 6-1 loss to poor Boliva (altitude or no altitude, other sides didn't seem to struggle this much), an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to an efficient but hardly vintage Brazil and then scraped past Peru 2-1 with a last minute Palermo goal, a dire Peru with the worst away record on the continent. At the tournament itself they were taken apart by the first class team they faced. A team most would agree were technically inferior but much much better organised by a proper manager.

    Maradona achieved his main goal though, raise his profile even more, be on TV screens around the world and therefore satisfy his ego. Argentina winning the World Cup would have simply been a bonus to the man. Argentina are well rid.

  • Comment number 74.

    Maradona was a poor coach and should have been sacked before the World Cup, under his leadership Argentina had a banana skin ride and only qualified for South Africa late in proceedings winning just 8 of 18 games and scoring just 23 goals.

    There are only 10 countries in South America so the five minnows have little chance for one of them making the finals, so even when playing poorly as Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay did in qualifying they still get to the finals.

    The hand of God has spoken and waved Maradona GOODBYE.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think the Argentinian FA was too hard on Maradona - If they just gave him some time and let him have his way for a while they would succeed, he's proven he can make good decisions like when he brought on a third striker in the WC2010 match against South Korea - which led to another goal, any other manager would have brought on another defender - Maradona has the extra experience of being exceptional on the pitch which could have played in to the hands of Argentina - but now I guess we will never know.

  • Comment number 76.

    Fact is when all the dust settles and history looks back, Maradona will be remembered as arguably the greatest player ever, and coming back from adversity and being one of the stories of the World Cup. South Africa 2010 will be largely remembered for him as well as Spain and Holland. His character lit up the World Cup.

    I think now is the time for him to let go of management just like Dunga had to, it's not personal but just the way it is, but Maradona would not be Maradona if he did not make it personal.

  • Comment number 77.

    It is pathetic what the AFA has done. They publicly put him in a corner - if he fire back room staff he will be considered weak and lose respect and if he doesn't then he has to go. It was up to Maradona to decide who to keep and whom not to but AFA took the easy way out. Everybody knew what went wrong and AFA should have given him time to make his own decision.

    Scenario - What if Maradona himself wanted to remove Ruggeri because of his performance as defensive coach. What options he had after AFA public displeasure.

    All along we have seen that Maradona learned from his mistakes - both as player and as coach. he united the team and should be given advice behind close doors not through media. What Gorodano did was despicable and utterly diabolic.

    I understand Maradona was no genius of a coach but he deserves respect for what he brought on table. Did he got fair try I don't think so. If Capello with all his experience can get wrong then Maradona just had his first real job.

    Regarding Germany's great coach, as a mannschaft fan, I disagree with lots of people about his tactical genius. In my mind anyone who have seen the EURO final and WC semi- final knows that he is out of his depth when faced a decent team. Paraguay played better than Germany against Spain and Germany always looked like playing with fear in semi. I love to know Tim's opinion on Germany vs Spain in WC.

  • Comment number 78.

    Great player, do doubt about that but that should not preclude DM from criticism of his coaching, let alone his 'lifestyle'.

    IMHO, you should not be entrusted with the national team if you have recently been a junkie.

  • Comment number 79.

    Re: #3 BatiBati9

    What's all this "Don Julio" and "disrespect"? You make the Argentinian FA sound like a bunch of mafia.

  • Comment number 80.

    Perhaps Argentina improved in South Africa but in my opinion they have been playing far below their potential since Alfio Basile left. Did Maradona improve the team? Perhaps but any other coach/manager with that type of performance after the world cup would have been heavily criticized.

    I think that Argentina needs a fresh start looking forward to 2014 and if Maradona would have stayed Argentina's chances of qualifying would not be as good as they are now that they will be getting an experienced coach, especially in playing in South America.

    In past qualifiers Argentina earned a spot in the WC with several games left to play an I think Argentina would have been competing for the last qualifying spot with other countries (with Maradona in charge).

  • Comment number 81.

    #79 the AFA IS a mafia. Grondona IS the godfather. Anyone from Argentina (incl me) will confirm this.

    For those of you praising Riquelme, get real. Riquelme was the most unreliable playmaker we could have. When he played well he could do magic things. But when he went to sleep (too often) he was a total waste of space. Evidence? World Cup 2006. He is infuriating. He was also a divisive personality. Riquelme does not deserve to use Argentina's shirt.

  • Comment number 82.

    He was in the wrong job anyway.
    A supreme cheerleader for all things Argentinian, it appears the only tactic pursued during the WC was to instruct all the players to get the ball to Messi - very unfair to put so much pressure on a talented but young player.

  • Comment number 83.

    56. At 4:09pm on 29 Jul 2010, noblefighter

    I reckon Maradona was the greatest player ever to kick a ball. You wanna know why?

    ABILITY.

  • Comment number 84.

    34. At 1:27pm on 29 Jul 2010, Akbar Aslam

    Argentina lost to Germany in 2006 BECAUSE of Pekerman's decisions... totally baffling.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have to laugh at the English fans calling Capello a poor manager! Perhaps if I live to be a 150, I will see that glorious day when the penny finally drops and they realise that THEY ARE JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH! You can't polish a T###!

    As for Maradona, greatest player ever bar none. As a manager i'm hoping that we haven't seen the last of him.

  • Comment number 86.

    Sure Maradonna still has a lot to learn but I for one will miss his candour and honesty. Genuine characters in football are few and far between. Most managers and players interviews and comments are worthless exercises in diplomacy. Football needs more honesty and enthusiasm like Maradonna and less boring diplomacy. Players being media trained to talk of the "team" is dull dull dull. I want hear a player say "Yeah, that goal I scored was a real cracker wasn't it? We needed something a bit special and I just went for it, Bosh!!".
    Blackpool in the Premiership this year may well be quite entertaining due to the very quotable Ian Holloway being on MOTD each week if not for their football.

  • Comment number 87.

    As usual the blog is as entertaining as it is educating. However I find the criticism of Maradona some how off the mark. Don Fabio with all his looooooong experience and gifted technical bench did not fare much better against the Germans the Lamps 'goal' notwithstanding.

    The Germans for all the experience of their coach (I cant spell his name by heart) did not themselves fare much better against the Spaniards, the 1 goal margin of victory notwithstanding.

    Even the likes of Dunga with their "Win Ugly if you must" tactics will only be a sad footnote when the next edition of the history of Brazil at the world cup is published, whenever that will be.

    There was only going to be one winner the vastly experienced Vicente, who to all intents looks like a restaurant owner on some revierra.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 79 Although I am not an Argentinian the very fact the the G-man has been there since 1979 speaks for itself. If I am not wrong the Military Junta was still in place, after all that was before the Falklands (or is it Malvinas) war. Even if Africa very few dictators have served that long. So unless there is some sort of (Mafia?) conspiracy how do you expalin the almost 'Afrcan" longivity of the G-man? An honest administartor would have gone in 1986 when Argentina last won the world cap. In Mario Puzo's Book 'The Gofather', it is said that the Don always made an offer that was irresistable. Mr. Vickery is telling us that the G-man made Maradona an offer he could not resist, immediately after the 4-0 loss to Germany. Is there some similarity or what?

  • Comment number 89.

    I think Maradona would have done well to swallow his pride a bit and maybe get in someone on the coaching side who can add some pragmatism. The problem is that he has always been someone who is quite rigid in opinion and action and once he has decided on an approach to something will not back down as we saw when he kept Tevez in the side against Germany instead of Veron.

    He is very entertaining as a coach and it is a shame that his stubborness has cost him his job. Loyalty is a great thing but it wouldn't have hurt him to add a defensive coach to his staff.

    It is interesting that the English FA are doing the same thing to Capello in terms of forcing him to take on an English coach as an assistant and he is having to take it.

    If you like the bygone days of footie then you'll like this

    https://adampsb.blogspot.com/2010/07/way-it-used-to-be.html

  • Comment number 90.

    Shame he just missed out on the Fulham job.......

  • Comment number 91.

    Maradona was a better player then Pele and would have scored more goals had he played in the mickey mouse leagues. However, he made an impact on Italian football that I have yet to see beaten

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Apologies all, I know Tim is writing about Maradona's demise as Argentina's coach but comments such as the above wind me up so much I can't help but replying.
    AkbarAlsm get your facts right mate, what do you know to call the leagues Pele played in "mickey mouse"? In the 60s all South American greats (with very few exceptions) played in South America so the leagues there were then as strong as the European ones. Pele won the Libertadores twice with Santos beating legendary sides like Penarol and Boca and then went on to trucidate AC Milan and Benfica in home and away games. Not to mention his 1958 and 1970 WC campaigns (please note 12 years in between them). Pele scored more goals not only because he was a more complete player but also because he spent more years playing at his best which is also a testimony to his superiority as an athlete.

  • Comment number 92.


    He was an absolute waste of time to be honest, with the players in the Argentina side they would have done that well with no coach at all. It was appalling that someone who blatantly cheated and lied about it at a WC and also got thrown out of a WC for drugs should have been allowed on the touchline anyway. The behaviour of the Argentinian team on the coach before the Germany game was disgraceful and very unprofessional and I am glad they got stuffed 4-0! Also if you are not going to pick 2 players that had just won the champions league then you are pretty unlikely to do very well.....



  • Comment number 93.

    @91 It comes down to this really.

    If you are Brazilian or English it's Pele
    If you are Spanish it is Di Steffano
    If you are Irish it is Best
    If you are impartial it is Maradona by a mile. The single most talented player there ever was or ever will be.

  • Comment number 94.

    @92 Djimi Traore was a Champions league winner. Lets remember that Maradona was lso looking at the Argentine league rather than just European football. That said, I would personally have called up Cambiasso.

  • Comment number 95.

    It was absolute madness to appoint Maradona in the first place, then it was beyound madness not to have fired on the the day after his misfortunes in South Africa like Brazil did with Dunga. Truth is, Brazil is a footballing super power, and they behave like one, while Argentina has the arsenal of a footballing super power but behave like the worst of the third world countries in footballing terms. They have the army but not the generals. Maradona the bes general they could find?. I would not trust my son's under 12 team with Maradona. Don't get me wrong, as a player I rank him number 1, above Pele and the rest. I just would not let him manange anything. Why would I? He can't manage his own day to day life.

  • Comment number 96.

    @93 It may well be that if you are Arggie you think Maradona is the best, but if you are impartial, well-informed and, in case you are too young to have seen Pele playing, you are willing to make an effort and actually research his feats and watch any available footage than it is a no contest.

  • Comment number 97.

    Tim, thanks as ever!

    I was impressed by maradona's flexibility earlier in the tournament - particularly in dropping Veron against Mexico, in appreciation, I think, of the nature of the tie (Mexico were always going toe-to-toe in a fight they expected to lose). I really thought, howerer, that he'd be back to face Germany, perhaps alongside Clemente Rodriguez and Samuel. Clearly, Maradona's inability to solve this tactitcal puzzle proved conclusive in this WC.

    As he said in this last press conference, Maradona has once again instilled a sense of the import, emotion, and dignity that should come with wearing the Argentinian shirt. For all his failings, Maradona is perhaps the one man in Argentina who should be recognised as being uncorruptable when it comes to football. This obviously scares the hell out of Grondona, and must have provided him with a terrible (for him) dilemma between the exposure and related money associated with having Diego managing the team, and the shift in power this implied on both national and international stages...

    You mention the reception Pekerman received four years ago, but did you really not question his motives when he put Julio Cruz on the pitch when he had so many more positive options on the bench? I still think he didn't really seem to want Argentina to win that game; he really let the Germans off that day...

    Why do you think Maradona didn't take Banega, Zanetti, Zabaleta, and Riquelme to the WC? Was it down to their perceived capacity for team spirit?

    I am still torn. Maradona achieved a lot more than I expected, and displayed a certain flexibilty and dynamism, not to mention his tremendous energy and capacity to motivate and engage his players; he was, however, naive strategically, and blinkered in his selections. One is left wondering how he and the albiceleste might have evolved given four more years together.

  • Comment number 98.

    Great blog really shows how Maradona divides public opinion all over the World whether as player or tecnico.Maradona is hugely popular in Argentina WITH BOCA JUNIORS FANS so Grondona has to be careful how to get rid of him.And get rid of him he had to do Argentina losing by 4 goals to anyone is humilliation and he showed his lack of tactical ability by leaving his midfield wide open to Germanys strongest point quick counter attack.
    In fairness after Basile losing the dressing room he did well in qualifying and also in squad selection except he picked one forward too many.his idea was right about leaving divisive elements out but he should have brought another midfielder but Mercier or Sosa not fools like Banega or Cambiasso who cause trouble.
    Now we must pick a serious coach and I beleive we have him in Alejandro Sabella who led Estudiantes to the 2009 Libertdaores cup and within one minue of defeating Barca in the World club final

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    I cannot understand how some people think he did well in qualifying: Losing to Bolivia was an absolute embarrassment and I don't think that he won half of the points in place. If I'm not mistaken they lost 3 straight and also lost to Brasil at home.

    Most importantly the way they played in the qualifiers was awful. Peru gave them a huge scare and the winning goal for Argentina at the last minute was surely controversial.

    With the players that Argentina have available they should have won more games but the tactics by Maradona (especially in altitude) were non existent.

 

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