Finding Neverland is one of my favorite movies of all times, starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. In short Neverland is a place where your imagination takes control. Think of something good and you will get it. Think that you can fly and you will, think that you are a hero fighting pirates and you will be…you got the point.
For the sake of this writing, I will imagine I am living in a world where in recent times Argentina has had decent coaches that took the right decisions. In that world I will be a happy supporter, because in this real world I am disgusted.
Let’s start the journey in 2002. I know most of the fans here like Bielsa, well I agree he’s the best we had but still he is responsible for the 2002 catastrophe. First of all neglecting Riquelme at his absolute best was a crime. Saviola was also on the rise and I bet having him on the bench instead of Caniggia would have been better. During the matches, Bielsa insisted that either Veron or Aimar should play when both would fit perfectly together. He also played Batistuta – way off his prime – and kept Crespo while being at his best on the bench. The result was a heartbreak that I swear I still remember till now.
I wish Riquelme was there, I wish Veron and Aimar had started together against Sweden, I wish Crespo had started…in Neverland the 2002 world cup is ours.
Now to the stupidity of 2006. Yes again I saw here many people calling for Peckerman back. I find this weird when recalling how Peckerman cost us Germany match in one of the most stupid coaching exhibitions I ever witnessed. Playing against a power horse in front of their home fans and we are in complete control. I specifically remember how German fans were mute in the second half as if they had no hope of climbing the match back with their team unable to produce a single shot on goal. Then the genius of Peckerman strikes: Riquelme is withdrawn and we surrender the ball to Germany who got control over the match. Then strike number two: Crespo is withdrawn and Messi – the most feared young talent on earth – is kept rotting on the bench at the same time where we reverted to counter attacks! Oh, by the way I am still seeking an answer about why would Zanetti watch the tournament at home while Peckerman spends the whole tournament looking for a right back…
I wish Zanetti was our right back, I wish Riquelme was not subbed; I wish Messi came on to finish the Germans…in Neverland the 2006 world cup is ours.
Forward to Copa America 2007…we are playing the final against Brazil and Basile comes up with a master plan: assemble a midfield that is the slowest and most rigid in history. A quarto of Mascherano, Cambiasso, Riqueleme, and Veron (!!) was only good enough to enter an Olympic race against turtles. We were overrun by Brazil and again we were left in agony.
I wish Basile never existed…Copa 2007 would have been ours.
In 2010, yet again against Germany, Diego found the ultimate formation: 4-1-5 ! Mascherano was left to face the entire Germany midfield and we were made fool of. Maradona thought after Mexico match that it was “a sin to change”. The only sin in 2010 was to allow the circus called Diego Maradona to lead us in the World Cup.
I just wish we had a decent coach to lead our most talented group of players we had in years…in Neverland 2010 WC is ours.
As for 2011, well it’s still so fresh that I won’t dwell about it. But Batista cost us the Copa played in Argentina…
Back to reality, I know that even without these catastrophic mistakes there is no guarantee that we would have actually won the tournaments as no one could predict what could happen in a single match. However, I strongly believe our chances would have been very high.
No country suffered and continues to suffer from the amount of bad coaching as much as Argentina; I will always wonder how many trophies would have we won with a semi-decent coach. The worst part is that there are no signs that things will change anytime soon.
My only consolation is that every now and then I visit Neverland and picture Messi holding the World Cup. I guess this is the closest we will ever get.