Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Maradona, Bilardo and La Seleccion

Admittedly I didn't see that one now seems to be a done deal and will be finalised next week. After reading various articles, comments end expert opinions on Diego's appointment reaction is mixed to say the least. It's either seen as a stroke of genius or one of the most insane appointments in the history of the game. Those in the 'for' camp point to his ability to connect with the players, something which was obviously lacking under Basile. His iconic status and passion for the shirt - as if this will somehow naturally transfer to winning formations and balanced team selections. The 'against' camp highlight his woeful lack of experience and the media circus which could distract the team (this could be a positive by deflecting attentions away from the stars).

Much speculation has turned towards the role of Carlos 'El Narigon' Bilardo, Maradona's manager at the 86 & 90 World Cups. Whilst the AFA insist that Maradona will be the one making all the decisions the influence of the 69 year old cannot be understated. Whether you like or loathe his methods, or give credence to various dubious allegations; he has something that Maradona does not - successful managerial experience.

It's all smiles at the moment, but a clash of egos will make for essential viewing.

Hasta luego!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Comeback Burro!

In times of crisis it's human nature to look back. Back to happier times with better memories, when the grass was greener and our chosen football team swept all before it.

Given the internal squabbling and lack of togetherness at Boca prior to the Superclasico, Simeone and his players must have been looking forward to getting their season back on track. As we know it didn't work out that way and in the aftermath of the home defeat to 10-man Boca the fans of River Plate are looking towards the West, and to the feet of Ariel Ortega. Having been the architect of previous triumphs many of them want him to return from his (enforced?) exile in Mendoza - see previous posts in August for details.

Numerous blogs and comments reflect the desperation felt by many of the fans: 'Please come back Burro' cries Juan Gonzalez on River Blog La Pagina Millionaria. 'Without Ortega these players will win nothing' decrees another. The consensus seems to be that even given all the baggage and problems that accompany him River would be in a much better position if he was in the team and that it was a mistake to let him go. One fan goes a step further and wants Saviola, Aimar and Cavenaghi all to return - maybe Enzo Francescoli could also make a comeback???!

If Ortega does return and changes the club's fortunes one thing is certain; he will be even more idolised than he is at present. Then again you should never go back..........................??

Hasta luego!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Players with Attitude

I thought I would try to avoid picking over the bones of La Seleccion's latest disappointment for this post as there are pages and pages of analysis all over the web.

Roberto Colautti is not a well known name in the UK, he was the star striker for Maccabi Haifa in Israel and is now playing for Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany. He is hoping to make more of an impression this term after suffering numerous injuries in his first season. In a recent telephone interview in El Grafico Roberto says he is settling in well and adapting to life in Germany indeed his main problem (by his own admission) seems to have been pronouncing 'Borussia Monchengladbach'.

Argentine players returning to the old continent in days gone by would invariably head for latin Europe for obvious historical and cultural reasons. It now seems to be a case of have skills will travel. The Ukraine, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and the list could go on and on. The sheer volume of players leaving Argentina never ceases to amaze, during the 2008 summer break 59 players moved overseas. For every Carlos Tevez there is a Gaston Sangoy (currently playing for Apollen Limassol).

Players are leaving for financial reasons and the clubs need the revenue. Simple economics. I am unsure as to how much longer this situation can continue. It cannot fail to have a negative impact on the domestic league and it's popularity with the paying public. Young fans need to see their heroes playing for the shirt for more than one Apertura and Clasura campaign.

So why are Argentine players so attractive to foreign clubs? Obviously the price. In addition they have generally had excellent youth training and posses great technical ability. There is also something intangible - their attitude and dedication. Their ability to adapt to different cultures and countries. Not all of them who travel abroad can become superstars and 'Megacracks' but the overwhelming majority become solid dependable professionals.

For all of the negatives that the exodus has on the domestic game the country should take pride in the way these players conduct themselves in their adopted homelands.

Here are some of Roberto's goals for Boca and Maccabi Haifa:

Hasta luego!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Gentleman's Agreement

The weekend prior to international fixtures is a nervous time for the national team coaches. They wait apprehensively to see if their players have come through unscathed and are given the green light by their respective clubs. Maybe the odd pulled muscle, cramp or such like is occasionally exagerated by the club sides? Who knows. If that is the case who can really blame them, after all it's not the FA's who pay these guys salaries and transfer fees. Now that revenue seems to be the major driving force behind the club game an injury to a 'crack' in an apparently meaningless friendly could have major consequences.

To avoid any future 'will he or wont he play' shenanigans or any potential injury Barcelona have devised unique new approach: Lionel Messi will only play friendly matches when Barcelona say he can. This proposal is not quite as surprising as it first appears. The pre-Olympics tug of war between the AFA and Barcelona meant that Messi could travel to Beijing. However Barca only agreed to release the player on the understanding that they could refuse call-ups for friendly games. A Catalan delegation are in Argentina this week to see if the AFA are as good as their word in an effort to try to make the agreement more formal.

Personally I wouldn't cross the street to watch an international friendly nowadays. Even the commentators struggle to keep-up with the constant substitutions in the 2nd half. Argentina's next international friendly is against Scotland in Glasgow on November 19th and I suspect many tickets will have been sold for this game in anticipation of Messi playing.

Hasta luego!