If Maradona can take Boca out of their current neurosis and put them on top of the table, I will be one step closer to believing that he can guide Argentina back to the days of the 1986 World Cup.
After all there should be no shortage of inspiration since La Bombanera is Maradona's stomping grounds. Anytime Martin Palermo feels the sting of his 34 year old legs, all he has to to do is look at the stands for a glimpse of the maestro to get his second wind. However, the club's success and failure falls squarely on the shoulders of Carlos Ischia, Boca's present manager who has to find his way without his front line striker and not even the benediction of a transformational figure can heal Palermo's torn ACL soon enough.
Maradona has never had any substantial managerial experience on any level and inspiration does not pad this thin resume. If it were, he should be Argentina's mascot and travel with them every World Cup to lift them to better results than the ones they have become used to. So far there is nothing to compare him to Carlos Bianchi who as Boca's manager led them to nine titles and should have been a clear favourite for the coaching job. Maradona had this to say about Bianchi, " I shake hands for what he has done with Boca as manager." This is not the full quotation because Maradona also offered something less flattering about Bianchi's personality.
It is quite like Maradona to have an opinion of anyone and everyone that has played the game. Part of this oracle like routine is to weigh in on his legacy and successor. Which has led him to make pronouncements on a bevy of players like Veron, Ardiles, Aimar, Saviola, Tevez, and finally Messi. And these are just the Argentinian nominees. It makes for perfectly good breaking news. Without any official capacity he remains very influential having offered Boca's coaching job to Bernd Schuster and instrumental in luring Martin Palermo from the Serie. He also hosts one of Argentina's most popular TV program that has him pitting his opinionated views against guests like Pele. He has had to fight his demons from his days at Napoli which have taken a toll on his health and personal life.
Maradona has championed mirror images of him everywhere, every underdog fueled by familiar chords of resentment and paranoia, shafted by an unfair system. It also clouds any objective assessment both on Maradona's part and the public who follow him. His idols are Carlos Monzon and Ayrton Senna, outsized personalities who excelled at their sports, lived full throttle, ended their lives destructively, and 'never took the cats milk'. This euphemism runs recurrent in Maradona's palpable dislike of players whom he thinks sold him out or turned against. His well publicized feud with Passarella has led Maradona to divide players into opposing camps on the basis of their support. Maradona also dislikes players who appear dispassionate on the field. He singles out Redondo, Zidane and Platini. On that note alone it would be hard to find Riquelme a spot on Maradona's XI.
I love Maradona as a player. He is incomparable. No one has fought harder for the rights of players. He has bloodied Sepp Blatter and the FIFA establishment time and time again. But he is an ideologue. All of the above suggests a view that brooks no shades of gray. If you want a telenovela that all Argentinians follow avidly, by all means go for Maradona. Yet, it is the Marcelo Lippi's of the world who win World Cups. Cool, pragmatic, and versatile in their thinking. They dip into their persona as and when the need arises to supplement inspiration or encouragement, all the while laying the onus on team performance. Carlos Bianchi would have been a far better choice.