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Saturday, June 12

Why Diego Maradona is My New Favourite Coach?

I knew I’d enjoy Diego Maradona’s contribution to World Cup 2010, but I thought it would be more about his crazy antics like running over cameramen, making diva-ish requests and gifting us brilliant brilliant quotes. I dind’t think it would be for his tactics.

Yet that’s exactly what happened today, when Maradona fielded easily the most attacking line up of the World Cup so far, and Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0. El Diego’s starting XI featured the following attacking players: Angel Di Maria, Juan Veron, Gonzalo Higuain, Leo Messi, Carlos Tevez and Jonas Gutierez, with the latter playing out of position at right back. That’s six players (over half the team) who can only be described as either attackers or creators. Chris called it “a video game lineup”. I say it’s the way all coaches should run their teams.

Obviously that’s not realistic. Coaches want to win things, and getting organized and balanced is usually what does the trick. It takes a crazy person to – if I may steal a phrase – throw all their beef on the grill and field that many attacking players with only Javier Mascherano to keep the defenders company. Fortunately Diego Maradona is such a crazy person. If only the other 31 coaches were equally crazy, then this would be the best World Cup ever.

Two more reasons I’m suddently very fond of Diego Maradona. First is that after Leo Messi’s performance vs Nigeria, we can now finally stop saying that Maradona is failing to get Messi playing well. Little Lionel didn’t score today, but he finally looked like the Leo Messi we all know and love and (if we’re opposition defenders) fear, only wearing albiceleste instead of blaugrana. About time. Last but not least, how many other coaches incorporate this particular drill into their training sessions?