For a good soccer team to win something significant - for example, a World Cup trophy - it needs the right balance of artists and fighters. Nothing original there.
But any successful team also has to have a well-balanced manager whose methods represent management artistry. And the only way to develop this ability is to gain extensive experience and coaching education.
If ever there was a benchmark for the consequence of the lack of these coaching components it was displayed by Diego Maradona and Dunga in this year's World Cup, in shock exits of the two supposed soccer giants. The men were hired as national coaches of Argentina and Brazil, respectively, with little or no previous coaching/management experience.
Lets forget the first four games Argentina played and focus on the game that really mattered. The quarter-final against Germany where the Albicelestes were embarrassingly outplayed and outcompeted, indicated Maradona got it completely wrong and showed a tactical naivety that only comes from a lack of coaching experience, education or just plain lack of talent. (With Maradona, it was a combination of all three.)
Brazil's shock capitulation to Holland - where it conceded two second-half set-play goals - highlighted a lack of experience by Dunga. When such overt complacency kicks in it points directly to the coach, who clearly did not anticipate what could happen. Brazil's second-half performance was lethargic, complacent and riddled with mistakes. As a result, Dunga has been fired.
The bigger lesson however, is that to think a former player - no matter how great they were - can enter the coaching fraternity at the international level is, in the modern soccer world, complete lunacy.
Maradona and Dunga have highlighted this quite nicely.
GERMANY BUILDS A WINNER
There are three reasons for Germany's attacking, exciting, and successful play at this year's World Cup in South Africa.
The German Football Federation's (DFB) vision and implementation of goals and objectives back in 2006 mirror that of a top corporation. It has undoubtedly been the most significant reason for igniting a shift for the on-field fortunes of all German national soccer programs.
The objective of tangible international success at the youth levels, after a barren period, was mandated as the main method to channel younger players into the senior German team, where the average age had often hovered at 30.
So, in 2006, the DFB hired former German international Matthias Sammer to lead the way as the head of its youth system. A shift in philosophy to professionalized coaching of youth players, including the demands for a more competitive and winning attitude from players and coaches, led to three championship titles at the European under-17, U-19 and U-21 levels.
An impressive list indeed with now, potentially, a 2010 World Cup title to boot.
And looking at the current average age of the senior team - 25 - it is tough to argue against "mission accomplished" for the DFB.
But there are also two other important factors in the German soccer renaissance. The cultural acceptance to integrating naturalized immigrant players as a result of the softening of an ingrained xenophobic cultural attitude has as opened up the door to such talents as Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen), Cacau (Stuttgart), Lukas Podolski (Cologne), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) and Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV).
Then, of course, there is the brilliance of head coach Joachim Loew - who has caught his opponents completely off-guard with an attacking brand of soccer by a meticulously prepared team.
Loew's preferred 4-2-4 system (in disguise of 4-2-3-1) was a masterstroke implemented at just the right time. Australia, England and then Argentina huffed and puffed but were continually outnumbered in the midfield. In the end, they could not deal with the mass number of players the Germans pushed forward at every opportunity.
The end result is, it will be a brave man who will now bet against Germany winning the World Cup trophy.
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