There is a genuine danger Argentina
will not be at the 2010 World Cup after losing 3-1 at home to Brazil on
With three games to go, the Albicelestes occupy the fourth
and final qualifying spot in the South American group, two points ahead of Colombia and Ecuador. They have tough away
fixtures against Paraguay
The top four go straight to South
Africa, with fifth place going into a play-off against
the fourth-place team from North and Central America - which could be Mexico or the USA.
Despite claiming "I'm going to press on like crazy, this won't break me", coach Diego Maradona now wears a resigned
expression and looks increasingly like Colonel Gaddafi with Leslie Ash's trout pout.
His failure lends further credence to the argument that it
is rarely a good idea to employ a manager simply because of his quality as a
player - especially if he is a recovering drug addict with virtually no dugout
It is widely acknowledged that great players do not
necessarily become great managers, yet clubs and countries continue to give
them jobs based entirely on their reputation.
Sometimes it works out, like Laurent Blanc at Bordeaux; sometimes it is a mixed bag, like Roy Keane at
Sunderland; and sometimes it is an unmitigated disaster, like Maradona with Argentina.
Maradona was never even that much of a team player - he rightly
decided that when you are capable of dribbling through the opposition by
yourself, there is little point using your colleagues.
No doubt Maradona is an inspirational figure, but if it is a
want, they should either give him a skimpy outfit and pompoms or tell him to
Wondering why great players do not become great managers is
like wondering why so few trapeze artists become archbishops. Why on earth
The simple fact is playing football and managing a football
team are two separate things, requiring an entirely different set of skills.
Most people are good at neither, some are good at one, some
are good at the other, and a select few happen to be good at both.
Clearly the natural authority that comes with a bulging
trophy cabinet is not enough. To be a good manager, you need to be thorough,
organised, analytical and communicative.
Does Lionel Messi possess any of those qualities? Who knows?
At this stage in his career it doesn't
The things that make Messi brilliant are physical, like his
quick feet and low centre of gravity.
Why on earth would anybody expect him to be a top-class manager
when he has displayed none of the skills required?
There are the odd exceptions who have reached the top of
their profession in both fields.
Franz Beckenbauer won the World Cup with West Germany, Johan Cruyff won all sorts with Barcelona, but both were
smarter than the average Bowyer.
But more often they turn out like Bryan Robson, or fellow
United great Bobby Charlton whose managerial tenure at Preston North End was as
depressing as his playing career was uplifting.
Perhaps the most sensible players are those who do not even
bother. Like Pele, who eschewed coaching to make pots of money leading the
global fight against erectile dysfunction.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Slaven Bilic hits back after John Terry's claim English players don't
dive: "John Terry is not talking like that when Didier Drogba goes down
for Chelsea. I am not saying Drogba is a diver. I adore him
as a player but I'm saying when they
get a penalty they're not accusing
their own team-mates. You can't say English players don't
dive." Indeed you cannot, but if Drogba were English ED would be much more
confident about our chances of winning the World Cup.
FOREIGN VIEW: It's good to see not everybody is getting whipped up
in World Cup hysteria. With Portugal
on the brink of failing to qualify, A Bola's
front page carries a picture of Benfica defender Maxi Pereira eating an ice
cream. Reassuringly oblivious.
COMING UP: Hats off to England's women for reaching the Euro 2009 final. Find out
which country they will lose heroically to when the second semi-final takes
place this afternoon. It's Germany v Norway
from 17:00 UK
time, also available on the Eurosport Player.