Argentina deals with fantasy and reality

More than ever, Argentina has become a nation of football managers.

After the national team’s debacle in the World Cup qualifiers, there’s not a taxi driver, aunt or random acquaintance on the tube who doesn’t know exactly where Diego is going wrong, or can’t pinpoint the exact cause of Leo Messi’s split footballing personality disorder – a problem suffered by the pulga that brings a whole new body of evidence to the table in the club/country debate.

It’s reasonable to say that the sight of Messi scoring for Barcelona just 22 minutes after coming on as a sub at the weekend, having mustered one off-target ‘effort’ against Brazil and Paraguay, hasn’t exactly cheered the mood of the 40 million would-be managers over here.

The main man in Argentine football, AFA president Julio Grondona – Don Julio to his friends – will have had more reason than most to feel aggrieved on Monday morning, however.

Maradona was due to meet with Don Julio, along with general team manager Carlos Bilardo, to have a not-so-amicable chat about what the carajo is going on with the national team.

‘Was due’ is the operative phrase here. Without informing Don Julio or Bilardo, Maradona decided to fly over to the Old Continent on Sunday.

One version has it that he is going to tell Messrs Heinze, Gago, Maxi Rodriguez, Zanetti, López and Milito that their services are no longer required for national team duty.

Another has it that he’ll speak to Messi and Mascherano to find out why they are playing so appallingly for the national team.

Another has it that Diego has, in fact, booked himself into a swanky spa in Italy.

Diego and Julio: "Quick! The handcuffs!"

Whatever it is that Maradona has gone to Europe to do, he can count his lucky stars that people have something else to talk about this week.

One of the great institutions got under way over the weekend: Gran DT, the Argentine fantasy football league, momentarily distracting people from the national team.

The paper that organises the league, Clarín, is in the middle of battling out World War Three with the nation’s current and ex-president, who both happen to go by the surname of Kirchner.

That hasn’t stopped Clarín using valuable anti-government article space with the latest news on Gran DT. It’s good business, after all.

The game regularly has more than two million participants – from aspiring coaches to people with too much time on their hands to people who could do with the IMF debt-busting prize money of £2,000.

Falling comfortably into all three categories, Argie Bargy did the right thing and signed up.

And so it is that there is an extra spring in this blogger’s step this morning after a couple of managerial masterstrokes at the weekend.

Shunning the overpriced River Plate and Boca Juniors players paid off. Neither of the two grandes even managed to score a goal this weekend.

The smug factor was upped only when its Uruguayan striker Santiago Silva scored a brace to grab a surprise win for Banfield in the clásico with Lanús.

Despite a couple of dodgy risks at the back, we weren’t feeling brave enough to gamble on any of the Rosario Central squad, for three sound reasons.

Firstly, the team were rubbish last season, and escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth.

Second, that as favourites to repeat last season’s form and drop down a tier, a number of important and experienced players showed Emanuel Adebayor-esque loyalty and jumped ship.

Thirdly, we hadn’t heard of their players. Some don’t even have Wikipedia entries. That’s how unknown they are.

Four games into the Apertura ’09, however, the team that Che Guevara supported as a lad grabbed their fourth win in four games.

They’re the only side in the division with a 100 percent record, and they’ve done it with a team whose average age is 22.

You would have thought that the team captain, Jorge Broun, would have stayed around to celebrate the win over Chacarita in Buenos Aires on Saturday night.

It is, after all, 30 years since Central won their first four games of the season.

The team captain raced back to Rosario though. During his team’s 1-0 win, Broun became a father for the first time.

Although we’re not sure quite what Señora Broun thinks of her hubby heading off to play football while she’s giving birth to their son, it’s certainly commitment to the cause.

40 million would say it’s the kind of commitment the national team need. That debate, however, can wait for another day.

NEW! The latest results from ArgentinaNEW! Upcoming fixtures in Argentina

--------------------------------------------- More to read...

Argie Bargy homeBlogs home Latest South America newsNews homeInterviews homeForums home