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Maradona's a man of few tactical words

When it comes to charisma, not many football coaches can rival Argentina's Diego Maradona. But a deep discussion over tactics? Not the man's style.

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2010 12:26 IST

When it comes to charisma, not many football coaches can rival Argentina's Diego Maradona. But a deep discussion over tactics?

Not the man's style.

"Great one, you beast!" you often hear Maradona shouting affectionately at a player during training. Even when a shot balloons over the crossbar, he bubbles with the same infectious enthusiasm.

His critics, who called him a naive tactician in the runup to the World Cup, could be made to eat their words if Argentina continues its impressive form in South Africa and wins a third title.

They've won four matches in a row, scoring 10 goals - and the tally would've been far higher but for some excellent goalkeeping by their opponents.

Maradona says he himself preferred to be a free spirit as a player. As a result he intentionally won't tell Argentina's latest global superstar - Lionel Messi - what to do.

"I went to tell Messi (at Barcelona) that nobody ever told me where to play. So, I shouldn't have to tell Messi where to play either," said Maradona.

"It was up to him to decide where to play. He's a grown-up. I did it back in my era - and now it's his turn."

The former Argentine captain - for some the best player of all time - has embraced and kissed his players before all the matches in South Africa.

And it seems as though he's kicking every ball in his mind when prowling around the technical area, besuited.

The players seem to be thriving.

Martin Palermo, Argentina's 36-year-old, fifth-choice striker, is a case in point.

Many thought Maradona included him in his squad out of sentimentality - or as a lucky charm - after the Boca Juniors striker scored a last-gasp goal that more or less sealed Argentina's qualification for the 2010 World Cup.