FIFA World Cup 2010: Is Diego Maradona Destroying Some Coaching Myths?

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FIFA World Cup 2010: Is Diego Maradona Destroying Some Coaching Myths?
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

It was Jose Mourinho who said the importance of a football manager was minimal. At the time it sounded like a typical piece of false modesty from the Special One. But what if he actually turned out to be right?

Argentina boss Diego Maradona is doing his best to destroy a lot of our beliefs about the coaching role. We like to think of the modern manager as an astute tactician, deeply analytical, and with an acute insight into opposition tactics.

But what if it turns out that does not matter so much after all?

No doubt El Diego has a strong support staff and a squad of gifted and intelligent players. But it's hard to imagine him compiling a detailed dossier on any of his opponents.

It is even less likely his team talks contain intricate instruction on what role every individual has to play. And yet, so far, it has worked.

On the surface, he might seem to be the anti-Mourinho. Attention to detail, meticulous planning, and conscientious study are not traits you would associate with the Argentina manager.

But look a little closer and you might see something they have in common.

Watch how long the cameras spend trained on Diego during a match. Notice how he has created a real "us against the world" mentality in his side. And even his most bizarre selections and tactical changes seem to be coming up trumps.

That sounds a lot more like Mou.

A number of pundits went into the World Cup prepared for Argentina to fall apart. It was impossible, they argued, to put a man with so little coaching experience into such a high stakes, pressure-cooker competition. With a famous fiery temper, El Pibe de Oro was expected to explode.

There is time, of course, for that to happen. But initial signs are that he might actually be onto a winner. His team looks competent and controlled, but with the dash of flair necessary to make real progress.

Few managers have the array of attacking options at his disposal, and up to this point, he has used them to perfection.

There were calls for Diego Milito to start against South Korea after his great season in the Champions League. Maradona ignored them, and Gonzalo Higuain furnished him with a hat-trick.

Then he flung on the unfancied Martin Palermo late in the game against Greece and he responded with a goal. The celebrations suggested it was the closest Diego could get to scoring again himself in football's greatest competition.

There will be those who reckon his team has had it easy so far, and certainly, there have been some defensive frailties on display. But what if the sheer magnetism of the man was enough to inspire his side?

Heck, you could see it was a highlight for a lot of the defeated Greek players to get the chance to say they shook Maradona's hand.

Tougher opponents lie in store, of course, starting with Mexico. They have shown some flashes of brilliance in this tournament, but have they demonstrated enough ability to trouble Argentina? It seem hard to think so.

If the former Napoli, Barcelona, and Boca Juniors player can coach his nation to victory this summer, it would be one in the eye for all those who play down the importance of motivation at the altar of tactics.

He has shown to this point that putting passion at the heart of your match preparation can deliver results.

Only time will tell if it can land his country international football's ultimate prize. But, in the meantime, it is make for gripping entertainment. And, who knows, even Jose Mourinho might be taking notes.

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