Gracias El Diego! It was fun, while it lasted..

Diego Maradona and Argentina are out of World Cup 2010, after a brutal 4-0 defeat to Germany. I imagine quite a few will be saying good riddance to El Diego, especially England fans still angry about 1986 and the Hand of God. But I’m very genuinely going to miss him.

Obviously Maradona has some issues. Not least the rather frightening level of homophobia on display in his press conferences. But despite Maradona’s moral failings, I think he’s been one of the highlights of World Cup 2010. Maybe the highlight.

Mostly because Diego Maradona is clearly not a proper coach. Though he’s a footballing legend, Maradona is basically an Argentina superfan that’s been put in charge of his national team, and has gone about it like any superfan would. Wearing his best suit, talking smack with the press, and fielding the most attacking lineup he could get a way with. I mean, Jonas Gutierrez at right back? Brilliant.

Maradona displayed the sort of caution to the wind tactics and faith in his team to outscore the opposition that would make football 10 times better if all coaches would adopt the same approach. Unfortunately for Maradona they don’t, which is why a team coached by sensible person like Jogi Loew was able to pick off Maradona’s Argentina on the counter attack.

I’ll also miss Maradona’s touchline antics, jumping all over the place, remonstrating with officials, and reacting to every half-chance as if his life depended on the outcome. Last and absolutely not least, there’s Maradona’s relationship with his players. At some point or another in World Cup 2010 he’s hugged and/or kissed each and every squad member like they were his long lost sons.

For a while there, it really looked as if Argentina and Maradona could go all the way in South Africa on nothing but Maradona’s love for his team and faith in his players’ ability to outscore the opposition, every goal being a big eff you to the journalists and bloggers (guilty here) who questioned his international coaching credentials.

In the end it wasn’t to be, and the white and blue Argentina party boat ran aground with a loud bump when it collided a similarly talented but better structured football team. Although Maradona may not be a successful international coach, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun watching him try. At least he tried and gave us pure attacking football.

Gracias El Diego! It was fun, while it lasted..

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