A vastly talented team hopelessly mismanaged – the story of Argentina under Maradona. Will it be more of the same in South Africa?
For an example of a team succeeding in spite of a hapless manager, look to France finishing as runners-up in the last World Cup. As Les Bleus hobbled through the group stages, Domenech was low on ideas and his squad had little confidence in him. The remarkable turnaround was driven by a string of inspired individual performances from Zinedine Zidane. While the manager failed to lead in the changing room, Zizou did so on the pitch.
If Messi does what we know he can . . .
Though widely seen as the world’s best, there are obstacles to Messi being the tournament’s star. He has not been the same player for Argentina as for Barcelona, proabbly due to being played out of position. In addition, he bears a heavy burden of expectation. Ronaldinho floundered under similar pressure at the last World Cup.
And yet this is often the stage on which the genuinely great deliver. And if Messi does, he will galvanise the Argentinian side.
Far too good to ignore
Their bumbling bearded manager is not enough reason to dismiss Argentina. It is hard to disagree with Fabio Capello’s recent judgement that they have the best players of any team in South Africa. In a tournament without a stand-out favourite, the sheer quality of their players might well be enough to put them in the mix.