Sunday, 2 November 2008

Diego Vu

In general feelings about golf range from mild indifference to severe hatred but mention the 1985 Ryder Cup and my heart leaps, and I am stirred to my soul. Actually mention any sporting event from 1985 and this seems to occur. News of Kevin Bond’s new role at Spurs brings delicious pangs of a long-forgotten youth, punctuated all too often with the words “Bond, og”.

I fear that I am not the only one suffering from the “English malaise” of nostalgia. It does odd things to us, and leads us to do odd things to the past, not least the sporting past. Whist we in England prefer ours bitter-sweet it seems it translates to an optimistic desire for long lost glories. The heady force of nostalgia must have been wafting through the corridors of the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino recently. The appointment of Diego
Maradona as national team coach surely, just surely, owes more to the heart than the head?

And yet the detractors seem to be suffering from this same nostalgia, almost relishing the prospect of an unreliable, unfit Maradona crashing spectacularly, bringing the outrageously gifted Argentinean squad down with him. But Maradona is not what he was. He was consistent and hardworking in making his show, La Noche del Diez, a success; surely he will work still harder for the striped shirt he loves.

Once more gripped by nostalgia I think back to other Great Players and how they have fared wearing the sheepskin. Most have tried, from Sir Stan to Ruud Gullit through Johan Cruyff, but few have taken on a national team, and generally only after successful club management, such as Hugo Sánchez. Fewer still have managed on all five continents as did Ferenc Puskás.

The Germans have seemed happy to place former great players at the helm – even without any managerial experience (indeed five of their eleven National Managers have been novices, with mixed results; Englishman Fred Pentland displayed a great awareness of world events by taking up the post in 1914, shortly to be interned as a POW). The AFA, I am sure, would like to cite der Kaiser. Twice did Beckenbauer the manager reach the World Cup final; twice against a Maradona-led Argentina. Can el Pibe match the German’s unique record of winning the World Cup as player and manager? Who can tell, but the symmetry would be greatly enjoyed by us nostalgics.


Anonymous said...

Great article.


Anonymous said...

One of your very best ever.