Diego Maradona’s power is being taken away. Carlos Bilardo is being asked to step in and help with player selection.
Julio Grondona had requested Maradona to avail of Bilardo’s advise after the Bolivia drubbing but the manager who won Argentina the 1986 World Cup and helped catapult Maradona to the world stage has been marginalized with little input in the selection.
A list of players is being prepared. Amongst the decisions that Maradona is being confronted with is whether to keep or drop Javier Zanetti and Gabriel Heinze. There is also a proposal that the Nicolas Otamendi and Saba Dominguez central partnership be broken up and replaced with the more physical Ezequiel Garay of Real and Federico Fazio of Sevilla. If the AFA has its way then Gonzalo Higuain will finally get a call.
Other players who Maradona has been disenchanted with include Nicholas Burdisso, Fernando Gago, Lisandro Lopez, and Diego Milito. There is also a chance that Andres D’Alessandro and Pablo Ginazu, both of Brazilian club Internacional might get a call. Will Maradona let some of these players be chosen?
Apart from a reduced role in player selection, Julio Grondona has forced the Peru match to be played at El Monumental. He has also asked that an aide with experience be hired immediately. Maradona was supposed to meet with his assistants Alejandro Mancuso, Michelangelo Lemme and Fernando Signorini, to review the Paraguay match, go over the names for a new call, and to discuss whether or not to play a friendly on September 30 against Ghana, in Cordoba. But the meeting was called off as Maradona was not ready. It’s another infuriating chapter in his wayward managerial career.
I think the squeeze is being put on Maradona between now and the match against Peru to resign. Uruguay is riding in with some big momentum having beaten Colombia, 3-1 and with a big edge in goal differential could potentially bump Argentina of the four automatic World Cup spots leaving them to fight the playoff spot with the fourth placed CONCACAF team (presently Costa Rica).
Meanwhile, the Argentinian coach of Paraguay Gerardo Martinez has led his team to the World Cup while Chile coached by another Argentinian Marcelo Bialsa could also secure its place if they win against Colombia on October 10th. In fact, if we look at Alfio Basile’s record before he was replaced we could have at least expected a draw rather than a loss against one of the teams which would have been good for fourth place. Not convincing enough but still streets ahead of Maradona in team management.