Chau, Diego: the end for El Diez
He claimed the Argentina national team was a Rolls Royce in need of a service. He told journalists to suck it and keep sucking it. He said that if Obama was allowed to choose his backroom staff then so should he. He called up 108 players. He lost 6-1 to Bolivia. He told Pele to go back to the museum. He said that Pele Ã¢ÂÂmade his debutÃ¢ÂÂ with a boy.
He took Ariel GarcÃÂ© and MartÃÂn Palermo to the World Cup. He said the first three names on his teamsheet were Mascherano, Messi and JonÃÂ¡s Guttierez. He refused to train in the morning. He brought about the second international retirement of Juan RomÃÂ¡n Riquelme. He wound up FIFA, his bosses, the media, ex- and not-so-ex-players...
Say what you will about Maradona Ã¢ÂÂ and everybody is saying lots Ã¢ÂÂ but beyond it being utter mayhem from start to finish, there is one simple inescapable fact: neither Basile, nor Passarella, nor Bielsa, nor Pekerman performed better at a World Cup. None went further than the quarter-finals. Perhaps the problem with Argentine football is not just to do with the coaches...
Maradona opened himself up for criticism, he created several previously non-existent battles and his eccentric decisions were laughed at outside Argentina, making the blood-letting - now that AFA have chosen not to renew his contract as Argentina coach - all the easier.
The initial rumours seemed to suggest that Maradona would stay on despite the embarrassing result with Germany in South Africa, but in Argentine football realpolitik it was just another manoeuvre.
It's convenient and easy to say with absolute certainty that with a more experienced coach Argentina would have reached, at least, the final four in South Africa. That may well be, but it gives whoever replaces Maradona the job of proving all those Diego critics right. The core of MaradonaÃ¢ÂÂs side is young enough to remain for a number of years to come.
For now the two front-runners - according to the decision-makers at the AFA - are Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella and Racing coach Miguel Angel Russo.
Amongst fans, the Boca contingent still want the Viceroy, Carlos Bianchi, to be given a chance. RamÃÂ³n DÃÂaz features high up in the surveys, thanks to his success at River. Diego SimeoneÃ¢ÂÂs name has also been mentioned, perhaps more by virtue of being unemployed right now, and then come the rest.
Whoever comes in could follow a similar route paved by Mano Menezes this week. The new Brazil boss axed all but four players from the South Africa group in his first squad. Such wholesale change perhaps isnÃ¢ÂÂt needed for Argentina. The likes of Sergio Romero, NicolÃÂ¡s Otamendi (the Germany result wasn't his fault), Mascherano, Di MarÃÂa, Pastore, Tevez, HiguaÃÂn, AgÃÂ¼ero and Messi will all be key players for the coming years.
With the immediate task being winning next yearÃ¢ÂÂs Copa America on home turf, and then mounting a serious challenge for the 2014 World Cup next door in Brazil, whoever comes in should invest confidence in a new crop of players that will be of age in four years time.
For ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs next outing, against Ireland in Dublin on August 11, weÃ¢ÂÂll have a side chosen by Maradona Ã¢ÂÂ naming the squad was his last act in charge Ã¢ÂÂ and coached by Under-20 boss Sergio Batista.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs only after that when perhaps we will start to see the new-look Argentina. Perhaps it will be more competitive. Perhaps it will play better football. Perhaps it will play worse. Perhaps they will challenge for honours. Perhaps they will end up returning home after the first phase of the 2014 World Cup. Perhaps they will return with the trophy.
Whatever happens over the coming weeks and months, it wonÃ¢ÂÂt be the same round here anymore. Chau Diego.