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Menotti unhappy with Maradona’s priorities

March 10, 2010
Diego Maradona, coach of Argentina's national soccer team attends a news conference in Munich March 1, 2010. Germany will play a friendly soccer match against Argentina on March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Even Diego Maradona’s harshest critics, including Cesar Luis Menotti, recognised that they saw an improvement in Argentina’s defence in last week’s 1-0 win over Germany and some sort of shape to the team.

But Menotti, the coach who steered Argentina to their first World Cup title in 1978, does not like what he sees with Maradona at the helm for this year’s finals in South Africa.

“Your obligation is not to be world champion, your obligation is to know what the game plan is,” Menotti told the radio broadcaster La Red this week in a veiled message to Maradona.

Menotti’s comments follow Maradona’s remarks in Munich that he wants Argentina to stop looking back at their 1978 and 1986 World Cup victories and have new heroes to admire.

Maradona is certainly not short of talented players at the top of their form.   

“There are good players, there’s no doubt about that, they’re capable of winning a match for you … Luckily we have (Lionel) Messi and he is more and more a team player, at least that’s how he looks with Barcelona.

“(But) we Argentines are expecting him to win a match for us and the match is won by the team and not a player.”

 Columnist Juan Pablo Varsky in La Nacion wrote that Maradona’s Argentina looked like a traditional Italian side, not so surprising given that the former Argentina captain’s greatest years at club level were in Serie A inspiring modest Napoli to two league titles and the UEFA Cup.

Varsky saw a solid defensive line and lots of pressure from the midfield, not unlike the side coached by Carlos Bilardo that Maradona led to the 1986 world title in Mexico — not a system suitable for Messi, used to Barcelona’s possession game in the Spanish Liga. 

Menotti implied Maradona’s appointment and the work he has done at the helm was far removed from the organised manner in which Argentina had conducted their national team policy for 30 years from the mid-1970s until the mid-2000s.

“Things have not been done properly since the departure of (former coach Marcelo) Bielsa (in 2004) … There is no development of a plan, the times no longer correspond (to a cycle), the friendlies have not been played with a concern for searching for the functioning of the team,” he said.

PHOTO: Diego Maradona, coach of Argentina’s national soccer team attends a news conference in Munich March 1, 2010. Germany will play a friendly soccer match against Argentina on March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

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