So let's look closer at the Argentinian squad from 1986. Seven players played outside of South America for their respective clubs with the fifteen others remaining inside the South American nation. In 1986 it was very unlikely that the British football fans had heard of, or knew much about those Argentinian players that were not plying their trade in Europe. They did not have today's technology that allowed them to instantly access information about players from all over the world. Therefore, the Argentinian team going into the tournament was largely unknown to the British population and this was a major factor as to why Maradona was singled out from the rest of the team.
Coming into the World Cup Maradona was known as one of the players to watch. After an impressive season with Napoli (scoring 13 goals in 31 games) he was seen as Argentina's only hope for them to progress. Scoring five goals in the tournament and captaining the side saw him single handily take the team to the final and beat the incredible West Germany side 3-2, or so it would seem.
In truth, yes he did put in brilliant performances in the tournament, most notably against England and Belgium, scoring four goals in the two games but he never scored in the final and scored only one goal in the group stages (in the draw against Italy) so if he wasn’t the man scoring and doing everything, then who was?
|Goal of the Century|
Carlos Bilardo was the manager at the time of the World Cup, which, again, is a name that would not necessarily ring a bell amongst football fans today. He took on the Argentina job after successful spells at the Columbian national team and Argentinian side Estudiantes de La Plata. In the match reports regarding the manager he was dubbed ‘Master of the Success.’ He was the man who gave Maradona the captain's armband which at the time was not greeted positively as people felt Maradona did not represent the wider squad, having him as the captain forced El Diez to change his mentality from a soloist to a team player.
‘To always be able to interchange any player at any position, with the exception of the sweeper. Especially his midfield players were able to effectively advance to fortify the offense. With such rotation and movement, Argentina was very difficult to defend and often confused their opponent with their multiple attacks.’
However, Bilardo did not just bring impressive tactics to the side, he also brought the best out of Maradona. They speak about his efforts to control the player within the team:
‘He was able to take Maradona, this genius with tendencies toward egocentric artistry, and make him a model team player. This was certainly not an easy task. Bilardo must be credited for this transformation of Maradona from an individual genius into an absolute team leader who, when necessary, was able to make the difference himself.’
Carlos Bilardo could be described as the manager least credited with the success of his team in recent times. In every great team there is a great manager and how little he is actually mentioned within football is a travesty within itself.
For every fantastic player within the World Cup there are players around him you can describe as being great too. For Brazil in Pele there was also a Rivelino and a Garrincha. For England in Geoff Hurst there was also a Bobby Charlton and a Gordon Banks, the list goes on and on. With Argentina in the 1986 World Cup where they have Diego Maradona it is seen as if there was only him and the players around him were mere spectators of his brilliance, which evidently undermines their contribution to the cause.
|Garrincha: Often seen as a player as good as Pele|
Once more this piece was kindly written for TFHB by James Ferrier - follow him on Twitter @JDFerrier