One year ago, Diego Maradona capitalized on his success qualifying Argentina for South Africa 2010 with a payday in Doha. Dubai-based club Al Wasl obviously didn’t watch the tactical cacophony that was the Alibceleste’s World Cup run, instead electing to bring in the Argentine legend to manage their mid-table United Arab Emirates club.
Now, one year and one board of directors later, Don Diego has been relieved of his duties, dismissed while on vacation.
Maradona’s one year in the UAE saw his club fall two places in league (to eighth) while registering five fewer points. Results, however, were only part of the job. Hired to raise the profile of club and league, Maradona brought the requisite attention to Al-Wasl. However, there’s a threshold as to how much attention he can bring without resorting to his binge-indulging ways. Al-Wasl had hit that threshold.
There may be one notable on-field effect. Maradona was responsible for the recruitment of 30-year-old Juan Manuel Olivera, a former Universidad de Chile, Penarol striker who went on to score 27 all-competition goals in his first season at Al-Wasl. Without Maradona around, will their Uruguayan star be as keen to stay in the Middle East? I’m sure money won’t be an issue.