Coaches' reps in tatters

Brazilian coach Dunga and England's Fabio Capello have seen their reputations sink after...

Brazilian coach Dunga and England's Fabio Capello have seen their reputations sink after surprisingly-early exits at the World Cup in South Africa. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

CAPE TOWN -- The World Cup has inflicted severe damage to coaching reputations and careers.

That's not all that unusual in a world where positive results are mandatory. Those results are only magnified when it's a World Cup tournament.

The two coaches who took the biggest hits coached two of the most high profile teams in the world.

England coach Fabio Capello and Brazil's Dunga went into the tournament with their teams among the favourites. England made the most surprising exit, but Brazil came a close second.

Capello's reputation suffered the most damage. In the lead up to the tournament, he could do little wrong. England had a tremendous qualifying campaign and looked on track to be a serious challenger for the World Cup.

There were some niggling issues in the friendlies but when it came to player selection, Capello went off the board with some picks and most of them came back to haunt him.

The World Cup tournament showed him to be a man slow to make decisions and unwilling to make changes. He went from genius to dolt in two weeks.

Dunga's fall from grace was less drastic simply because he was already not very popular in Brazil for his dulling down of the trademark Brazilian-style football. Dunga is a perfect example of a coach betting his career on his convictions no matter what anyone else suggests.

Italy's Marcello Lippi won the World Cup in 2006. He was brought back in the hopes that he could bring back some of that magic. His problem was he brought back too many of the same player from that tournament.

For whatever reason, whether it was personal dislike or simple stubbornness, he left some players in Italy that could have helped.

We could throw Raymond Domenech in there as well but the reality is the man was never really respected as a coach by his players and his own media. France's World Cup campaign was slated for disaster almost from the start.

There is a certain narrow-mindedness and tunnel-vision quality involved with coaches such as Capello, Dunga and Lippi. When they fail, they are branded with labels such as arrogant or unwilling to compromise. There is something to that and when they fail, they will have to face the criticisms.

But that weakness is also what makes them successful coaches. They believe in their abilities. When they win, they win big. When they lose, they lose the same way.

Which brings us to the coach who made this tournament pop, Diego Maradona. When Maradona took over as Argentina's coach, the general sentiment was one of ultimate disaster. He had little coaching experience. He was off the wall, unpredictable and undisciplined.

His early qualifying campaign in South American did little to dispel any of that. Yet the little man has some things that every coach needs, some things that make up for coaching shortcomings. The most important is his relationship with his players. His players want to play for him. They know Maradona will stand up for them.

He is a player's coach who won't stifle the player's creativity. Maradona also has great passion. That passion sometimes gets him into trouble but his love of the shirt wears off on the players.

Yes Maradona made coaching mistakes. Just like Dunga, Capello and Lippi made coaching mistakes and they are coaches with far more experience. But he surprised a great many people with how well he did do on the sidelines.

Maradona was so emotionally beaten by the 4-0 loss to Germany, he said he is considering leaving the coaching position immediately.

"Now is not the time to make these decisions," said Gabriel Heinze one of his players. "Surely, it would be better to wait until the emotion has cooled. Maradona has worked very well and it would be great for him to continue.

"I will defend the selection and I will defend this group. We can take some positive things from our performances in South Africa. But as always, results are the most important thing and we screwed up."

Many hope Maradona stays. He's a colourful man who livens up a sport that often needs an injection of colour. He also allows his team to play football the way it should be played.

There's always time to pick up coaching pointers along the way.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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