Did a lack of clipboard experience stop Magic Johnson from achieving coaching success with the Los Angeles Lakers? Did Ted Williams’ non existent managerial resume prevent him from winning a World Series with the Washington Senators? “A great player doesn’t necessarily make a great manager,” admits the Guardian’s Marcela Mora y Araujo, while still hoping the surprise appointment of Diego Maradona as Argentina manager “could bring the most out of potentially the best squad in the world.”
One of the most popular chants for Argentina fans is: “We will once again be the champions, just like in 86.” Could this be the way forward? A handful of players, the same manager, and Maradona in charge? The reaction of the Argentine press has been one of incredulity. “Bianchi would have been a more serious appointment,” one vox-popped fan said. Journalists echoed the sentiment. “It’s not so much weird as absurd and shameful,” one told me. “My theory is that Grondona actually doesn’t want Argentina to win the World Cup,” another said.
Most negative statements were uttered in the traditional off-the-record premise, while the media analysed where they stood in terms of towing editorial lines. But Daniel Arcucci, of La Nacion, was happy to be quoted: “The risk is the destruction of the myth – how will someone so close to being a deity handle such an earthly task?”
The negative reaction mostly stems from Maradona’s turbulent off-the-pitch track record. Notoriously unreliable, lacking in discipline, and with an innate contempt for established rules and corporate status quo, will he be able to impose order and focus among the players who could form one of the best squads in the world?
I suspect he could. To footballers more than anyone else, Maradona is inspiring. His respect for the game and the craft of playing is contagious, and among the current squad there are players such as Juan RomÃ¡n Riquelme and Carlos Tevez who have been close to him professionally. The younger superstars – Lionel Messi and Sergio AgÃ¼ero, soon to father Maradona’s first grandchild – will be in awe of him and hungry to learn.