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A taste of what’s to come from Maradona?

November 14, 2008

It has taken only a week for Diego Maradona’s appointment as coach to turn the Argentina national side into something approaching a cabaret.

A squabble over the choice of Maradona’s assistant escalated into a saga this week which culminated with the country’s plethora of news and sports cable channels splashing the headline “Maradona to quit?” across the screen.

Maradona’s impulsive and volatile personality was always going to be a worry in his new job, but few can have imagined that it would have surfaced so quickly and over such a relatively minor matter.

Before being officially confirmed, Maradona had said that his former 1986 World Cup team mates Sergio Batista and Jose Luis Brown would share the role.

Then he back-tracked and said he wanted Oscar Ruggeri, another former team mate famous for his rugged style of defending.

Nobody could quite fathom out why, especially given Ruggeri’s dismal recent coaching record.

Known affectionately as Big Head, Ruggeri resigned at Mexico’s Tecos UAG after losing his first six games in 2003, then took charge of Independiente in his homeland before resigning four months later after being insulted by fans at a home game.

In 2004 he went to Spanish second division club Elche but was fired after 20 games. He returned to Mexico and joined America, the country’s richest club, and this time lasted six matches.

Ruggeri’s last coaching job was with San Lorenzo in 2006 where he was again fired after poor results including a 7-1 home defeat by Boca Juniors.

Batista, whose laid-back style and mild temper could have been a useful counter to Maradona’s volatility, recently won the Olympic Gold medal with the under-23 team in Beijing. Brown had been working quietly with the under-17 team after a stint with the superbly-named second division outfit Ben Hur.

Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona publicly admitted to personal differences with Ruggeri, at one stage saying: “I don’t like his face.” That set up a deadlock which at one stage led to the rumours of a possible Maradona resignation.

 All this has happened without so much as a ball being kicked. And it’s probably only a taste of what’s to come.

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