The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
A couple of thoughts on Maradona being named the new coach of Argentina:
1. I’ve always thought that the idolization of Maradona in Argentina had something implicitly condescending about it, the clearest sign of which is that it’s always been impervious to his behavior. There’s a sense that he’s a sort of divine child whom you love for the spark he contains, regardless of how unfit it makes him to be responsible or to live an undisastrous life. Worshipping a person like that, you still don’t give him your car keys or let him hold your bank deposit, and now that the AFA has decided to break that rule with Maradona, I wonder how the love will hold up if he’s perceived to be wrecking the team.
Argentine journalists are asking the same question. “The risk is the destruction of the myth,” Daniel Arcucci said. “How will someone so close to being a deity handle such an earthly task?”
2. This is the sort of news that makes writers jump to go on the record with predictions: it will be a catastrophe, it will surprise everyone and work. But where Maradona’s concerned, how can you be anything but agnostic? If I had to guess, I’d say there’s about a 5% chance he’ll finally get his life together and become a great manager, a 15% chance that he and Carlos Bilardo will have some success on the Klinsmann-Germany model (that is, Maradona as inspirational leader who leaves the tactics to his subordinates), and an 80% chance that a coke-fueled Maradona will hire stage designers to recreate the set of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory on the training pitch and then spectacularly dive into the soda-pop fountain on a day when Pele sternly reprimands the world of football for failing to divest high-risk derivatives from its portfolio in advance of next year’s tax season. But what do I know?
3. There’s been some talk that Maradona is “relatively inexperienced” as a manager or has a “relatively undistinguished record.” To be specific: he’s managed two clubs, Deportivo Mandiyú for three months in 1994 and Racing for four months in 1995. He was in charge for a combined 23 games and won three of them, the last win coming over 13 years ago. There’s no “relatively” here. For all practical purposes he’s as fresh as a lamb to this. We have no idea what he’s going to do.
UPDATE: Not to make too much of the religious dimension…
by Brian Phillips · October 30, 2008