Tom Bushell: adios Maradona

Our new sports columnist waves godbye to a legend

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Right, so we’ve said goodbye to Diego Maradona. After last week’s news that Al Wasl have decided to part with their publicity tool and concentrate more on results on the pitch, the search begins to find a new coach. Maradona leaves having made plenty of headlines, including announcing he’d like to manage the Kuwait or UAE national teams, or retire in Spain. The latter now seems the more likely option.

His year in Dubai was interesting, except perhaps for Al Wasl fans. A disappointing league campaign saw them finish eighth – two places lower than in the previous season. And with no cup triumphs, Diego didn’t really have an argument. He tried blaming a lack of funds to build his team. Well, when he was in charge of Argentina and had some of the world’s best players at his fingertips, he didn’t really get them playing well either.

So who’s next for Al Wasl? Harry Redknapp is available after leaving Tottenham in June. He’s already on Russia’s shortlist for their manager’s position – although that ‘shortlist’ consists of 13 people, which really makes it just a list. Redknapp loves Dubai: he holidays here regularly and could see it as a perfect place to finish his career.

Another name to be mentioned is Sven-Göran Eriksson. The former England coach doesn’t shy away from challenges, having had spells with the Ivory Coast, Mexico and Notts County. Gianfranco Zola was another name mentioned earlier in the summer, before Maradona’s departure, but he’s now at Watford. In fairness, the shopping complex there does offer a range of retail outlets similar to the likes of Dubai Mall.

Whoever it may be (at time of press, Al Ain’s Bruno Metsu is favourite), Al Wasl fans should remain positive. They may have lost a footballing legend, but as a coach, he’s simply not in that category. Be thankful that the new board has gaining results on the pitch down as a priority.
Tom Bushell presents Sport On 7 (Mon 8pm, City7 TV), guests on The Grill (Sat 5pm, Dubai Eye) and hosts Dubai 92’s Tom & Dan Show (Sun-Thu 4pm).

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