My Say: Maradona Becomes Coach – A Halloween Hoax?

Ajay Swamy reflects on the appointment of Diego Armando Maradona as the coach of the Argentine national football team.....

The following are the views of the author and not necessarily of  

Diego Armando Maradona's 48th birthday present comes bearing fruits. It'll be announced by the AFA (Argentine Football Association) soon that Maradona will take over the reins of the national team from Alfio 'Coco' Basile.

El Diego gets to manage one of the most talented national teams in the world. He gets to coach, mentor and motivate players such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. Either he motivates them or loses the plot altogether.

I think it's fair to conclude that appointing Maradona as the coach is probably the most illogical decision. El Diego was, and still is, in the heart of football fans across the globe for being the greatest player ever. He did things on the football pitch that are still unmatched and unparalleled 20 years later.

He aroused emotion and passion. He motivated and led by example on the pitch. But off the pitch he wasn't really the role model people can look up to.

True, he has completely turned his life around, but there is still that old arrogance about him, those sharp words against FIFA mandates, corporate laws and the associated marketing mayhem. Diego has have had brief coaching stints 11 years ago and according to various sources his record reads 3 wins, 12 draws and 8 defeats. It is not known what tactics he prefers or which players he favors.

But there is one thing Maradona will stand up for- and that is the players' themselves. He has the uncanny ability to steal the spotlight and thus shelter the players from the media, allowing them to do their job on the football pitch. Maradona will be assisted by the great Carlos Bilardo who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986 and to the World Cup final in 1990.

Bilardo is a great tactician and if he is indeed the brains behind this operation – the AFA might have stumbled upon something. But it's unlikely Bilardo will have complete autocracy of the national team – which is why this move is quite apprehensive.

Maradona for all that he is – an icon, a Godlike figure, and a great motivator- simply doesn't have the coaching credentials. I believe that the AFA are trying to relive the glory days by appointing a legend and the manager who coached the legend.

I am very cynical of this move. If it does work, then Maradona and Bilardo will become greatest player-coach duo in history. I think the decision borders more on an emotional level. The people connected with Argentine football watch and adore and follow the national team more than just for fun or the tactics; they do so on an emotional level, perhaps unassociated with any other national team.

Emotionally I cannot wait to see the results and emotionally I'm convinced this could work. But rational thinking subdues me and it fills me with a lot of doubts. It is a huge decision and the next six months would be telling.

But for now I'm satisfied dreaming....

Ajay Swamy  

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