Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beginning of a dream or disaster?

For us football fans of a certain vintage, the name Diego Maradona conjures up some depths of emotion, some awesome images from the past. He was a king to a generation of fans who can recall instantly a highlights reel of flicks, assists, goals and controversies that the top ten players in the world today combined would struggle to match.

Imagine then what it must be like for a crop of Argentine footballers aged 20-35, guys who either grew up adoring the man or idolising the myth, to suddenly find themselves getting hugged, kissed and mostly led by this great little magician. Imagine the feeling that Roy Keane fizzed through Irish football supporters, multiply that by ten and then get rid of the 50% who never warmed to him. Maradona was/ is a religion in Argentina, a God; that's why this management role can only end in extremes, either a crazy, World Cup winning success or total , abominable failure. It won't be boring.

Maradona's competitive action begins this weekend and interest, predictably, in the country is mindblowing - read Marcela Mora y Araujo's piece in the Guardian here. Early signs have been encouraging, a nice flow in wins over Scotland and France. He's got a savage coaching staff while he ought to inspire passion and performances and a certain style, at least early doors. Tevez has been showing well with Messi and Aguero likely to be flitting around up front as well - those three would cause problems for any defence. But there have to be question marks over sections of the side. We saw how weak Heinze and Gago can be with Real Madrid and mad as it seems for an Argentinian side (them being the inventors of the position in many ways), there's no real playmaker in midfield.

Jumpthefence feels that Maradona would need a decent start here, surf the feelgood factor in the country with some wins and sparkle. Any sort of gloominess or negativity or doubt creeping in from his congregation might just be beyond the great man's talents to overcome. We hope with our nostalgic heart that he comes up trumps, imagining the youngsters of today only knowing the genius as a failed manager would be far too hard to take. Tune in with interest.

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