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Great footballers don’t always make great managers

Maradona's struggling as Argentina head coachThree famous football names have came under intense speculation in the last few weeks and months. Ipswich boss Roy Keane, Argentina coach Diego Maradona and Tranmere boss John Barnes were all undoubtedly great footballers but all three are struggling with very different managerial challenges.

Different challenges but same struggle

They may be worlds apart in their current positions but in the 1980’s John Barnes and Diego Maradona were footballing superstars. Maradona is also considered as one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced a football field. Barnes was considered one of best footballers of his generation, despite his form for England not being as consistent as his form for Liverpool. Roy Keane was key to Manchester United’s rise to the top English football in the nineties. Yet despite these achievements the three former greats find themselves in exactly the same position. That position is struggling to do their respective jobs.

Barnes struggles after summer of mass exodus

John Barnes has the most difficult job out of the three working on a shoestring budget. His cause wasn’t helped by the fact that he lost lots of key players during the summer. Those players leaving included veteran goalkeeper Danny Coyne who had previously assured the former England boss that he would sign a new contract. Instead he joined Championship side Middlesbrough on a free transfer at the end of his contract.

Things have improved for the enigmatic former Liverpool star in the last two games with his side claiming a 0-0 draw at the weekend and beating fellow strugglers Wycombe 1-0 last night. Even with these results Barnes is still under pressure.

He will have to prove to the fans that he has got what it takes to turned things around. However most Tranmere fans are still sceptical about his ability to manage a football club. There is also the opinion that he only got the job because he is a big name and his presence at the club will attract fans. Unfortunately for the Whites its did the opposite as the team have struggled all season.

Lots of ambition but no substance so far at Ipswich

Roy Keane was Alex Ferguson’s midfield general at Manchester United. The driving force behind some of United’s greatest triumphs during the nineties. It always looked likely that with his superb leadership skills and will to win that he would be a manager after he retired from playing. He did a good job in his first job as a boss with Sunderland, well for the first season anyway. He took the Mackems from the bottom end of the Championship to promotion to the Premier League.

The following season he spent a large amount of money to try and compete in the top flight. By early December his side were 18th in the Premier League and he was heavily criticised. He decided he had enough and resigned on the 4th December. It was reported that his decision was made because of differences with club chairman Niall Quinn and shareholder Ellis Short.

Keane wasn’t out of football for long though as he took over at Ipswich Town on 23rd April 2009. The season was nearly over and Keane started to get to know his players. He hasn’t got the same resources that he had at Sunderland but he is still expected to lead the club to promotion.

He shown great ambition by saying he wants his side to challenge for promotion this season. Unfortunately for the Tractor Boys they are currently bottom of the table and Keane has received the dreaded vote of confidence from Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg.

The board are completely behind the former United ace but for how long for if they continue to struggle at the bottom end of the league. In my humble opinion Keane will make a good manager in the future and all these situations can only make him stronger as a manager.

The legend who can’t be criticised

Diego Armando Maradona is an Argentinian football legend. In some places he is almost a god to his people. Criticising the former Napoli hero is almost blasphemy in his home country and in Naples. However since taking over as Argentina head coach there has been murmurings of discontent over his performance and ability to manage one of the worlds best footballing nations.

He may have a passion for his country that is hard to match but it seems he lacks the necessary motivational skills to manage his country. His country are struggling in their World Cup qualifying group and could miss the finals next June. He has however reminded journalists that in 1985 they nearly failed to make the tournament and a year later in Mexico they became World Champions. For Argentina and their fans its a difficult situation as the Argentinian FA are unlikely to sack the legend and his pride will not allow him to quit.

If Argentina do qualify and make a big impact at South Africa 2010 then Maradona will be a even bigger figure back in his homeland, if that’s possible of course. If the unlikely happens and they don’t qualify for the World Cup next season then Diego could very well be edged towards the exit door.

These three are cautionary tales that big name players cant just be thrown in to a job just because of their reputations or who they are. In the case of Maradona its a matter of heart ruling the head at the Argentina FA and maybe now some of those officials may regret appointing the little man.

Wed 30 September, 2009
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