Saturday, August 1, 2009

Maradona Leading Argentina into Trouble

Never thought this made much sense. Diego Maradona as Argentina's national-team coach.

I think he's a dope. And a doper. (Though perhaps he is clean, on the rec drug side of things, after years of substance abuse.)

Let's just focus on his World Cup qualifying record: He and Argentina are 2-2 since he took over the team, and Argentina is, almost unbelievably, at risk of not qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Part of the problem seems to be Argentina's reverence for the guy. Even though Maradona's soccer skills clearly outpace his mental abilities. He is doing odd things with the squad (such as not calling in gifted young scorer Gonzalo Higuain) and not being held accountable. Because he is Diego.

So, a 6-1 thrashing at Bolivia, a 2-0 defeat at Ecuador ... it's all good (well, not really, but we're going to pretend not to notice). Fourth place in the South America standings? With Brazil up next? No worries.

(No, really.)

Well, someone ought to worry. You don't get into the World Cup with celebrity amateurs picking the team and naming the starting lineup. You win with real coaches.

It has been well-documented that some of the greatest athletes make the worst coaches/managers. Often because they could barely survive their own celebrity, because they never really worked at greatness or had to learn it. It was just there.

Diego Maradona appears to be one of those guys. And if Argentina loses to Brazil on Sept. 5, and falls from fourth place to somewhere deeper in the standings -- that is, on the verge of not going to South Africa -- maybe Argentina wises up and cuts loose St. Diego. Before it's too late, and we wind up with a World Cup without a two-time champion.

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