Alright, so this is a bit odd.
Based on what we did for Pele yesterday, I’ve run the numbers for Diego Maradona.
And they’re surprising.
With Maradona in the side Argentina were P90, W41, D 29, L20. Without him they were P97, W43, D34, L20.
Points per 38 games: 64 and 64!
In home games:
P28, W16, D9, L3 with Maradona, P 37, W19, D13, L5 without him. Points per 38: 77 v 72. So a bit better with him there.
P62, W25, D20, L17 with him, P60, W24, D21, L15 without him. Points 58 v 59.
What does it all mean?
Here’s something. In 1991 Maradona receive d a ban after testing positive for Cocaine. If we look at the numbers before and after that we see something:
Before the ban:
With Maradona 63 points per 38 games (P79, W36, D24, L19), without him 57 pp38 (P62, W23, D22, L17)
After the ban:
With Maradona 55 pp38 (P11, W5, D1, L5), without 78 pp38 (P35, W20, D12, L3).
Small samples there, but equally, it’s instructive perhaps. Diego Maradona’s lifestyle was famously awful, perhaps his fame and ability meant that he was picked for longer than he should have been?
The other thing that stands out is that while Brazil were clearly a fine side with or without Pele, Argentina are clearly a notch below. We always fear them because of the great players they produce, but are they all that, really?
Another conclusion might be that Pele was an extraordinarily gifted team player, whereas Maradona very much played for himself. His genius allowed his teams to sometimes reach spectacular heights, but we might surmise that football’s very best sides are those where the team is universally strong and becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and any team over-reliant on one player may be similarly less than itself.
I don’t know. Having started all this being firmly in the Maradona camp I’m now a little uncertain. The results suggest that Argentina didn’t really suffer when Maradona was absent. This is piffle to an extent – they’d never have won in 86 had he not been there – but equally the results are the results.
So…. more research needed.
Data sourced from: