x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A perk of being 'El Diego' Maradona in the UAE

Seventh in the league on 12 points. Out of the President's Cup. Struggling in the Etisalat Cup. Maradona must be glad he is Maradona.

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach and a veteran of UAE football, was asked to consider a theoretical scenario involving a coach at one of the country's big and ambitious clubs.

This coach, in his first season, has seen his side win only two points from their past five Pro League matches, and has conceded the title is out of reach, only 10 games into the season.

He also has just been eliminated from the President's Cup in the quarter-finals, unable to hold a 1-0 second-half lead against another mid-table side. And, too, his club sit fourth in Etisalat Cup group play, so that also looks beyond reach.

What would happen, to that theoretical coach with such results?

A smile played across Hickersberger's face, and he said: "I will get the sack. That's for sure."

He added: "But I am not Diego Maradona".

Maradona, this morning, must be glad he is Maradona and not just another expatriate entrusted with leading a domestic top-flight side to glory. Instead of heading for the airport "El Diego" almost certainly will be given time to see if he can make something out of the Al Wasl side that is on a treadmill to nowhere.

Seventh in the league on 12 points. Out of the President's Cup after last night's 3-2 loss to Wahda. Struggling in the Etisalat Cup.

A recipe for a return to the country of origin for Pro League coaches. For Maradona, he is talking of what Wasl might look like next season, and no one is rolling their eyes at his naivety.

A great player gets more rope with which to hang himself, as a coach. A curious concept, but it is why Maradona will report to work at Wasl this morning, as usual.