There is one very specific way in which the 2014 World Cup absolutely cannot match the 2010 World Cup: it will not have Diego Maradona as the manager of a participating team. As crazy as it seemed at the time (and it really did seem crazy — the man wore two watches the entire time), it seems even crazier in hindsight since it nearly worked. Argentina reached the quarterfinals and were eliminated by a Germany side who were simply far too good.
While the World Cup will never have someone quite like Maradona again (unless FIFA adopts my plan to have a special draw one week before each World Cup begins with the team selected forced to sack their manager and hire Maradona for the duration of the tournament), there are several men leading teams in Brazil who offer their own unique brand of madness that could either lead to great success or the entirety of Brazil's military police surrendering and fleeing the country to become painters in Belgium. Or, you know, something in between.
Miguel Herrera, Mexico
He swooped in at Mexico's darkest hour and salvaged their World Cup qualification after the three other managers they had in 2013 nearly ruined it for them. His nickname is Piojo, which means "louse." So there's that. He's also made it clear that he does not want his players having sex at all during the World Cup. And he's banned them from eating beef out of fear of positive drug tests from contaminated meat.
And then there's the reason every World Cup viewer should hope that Mexico win at least one match they weren't supposed to in the middle of a rainstorm at some point during the tournament — his celebrations. The video above is how he celebrated Club America's miraculous late comeback to win the Liga MX clausura title a few months before taking charge of the national team. There have been no modifications to the video above whatsoever — that is actually how it looked.
Didier Deschamps, France
Along with Jurgen Klinsmann, Deschamps is one of only two managers at the 2014 World Cup who won the tournament as a player. His greatest accomplishment since becoming France's coach in 2012 is not being Raymond Domenech — the person shaped ooze that France's 2010 team revolted against. Deschamps is responsible for one of the most notable exclusions from a World Cup roster in Samir Nasri, as well as one of the strangest stories in his threat to sue Nasri's girlfriend for her Twitter outburst in the wake of the decision.
Stranger still is the way he threatened journalists who expressed an interest in Deschamps' players possibly visiting a brothel nearby to the team's hotel in Brazil. "You might have files on the players, but I also have them on you," he said. So between suing his players' girlfriends and keeping detailed records of journalists' sex lives, Deschamps might be found writing on the walls in his hotel room after failing to show up for one of France's group stage matches.
Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss spent his time in the lead-up to the World Cup aggressively chasing the Manchester United job, which he now has. Though you might feel that is a conflict of interest, his players are likely wishing he was more distracted still. A Dutch fitness coach has accused him of overworking his players ahead of the tournament (an accusation familiar to Van Gaal). We've reviewed his genitalia exposing, camera slapping, success by RAGE before, but the bottom line with Van Gaal is that he's a constantly boiling pot of fury capable of burning the opposition, reporters who cross him or even his own team in equal measure. Or he might just pester the tournament's best players about joining him at Man United the whole time.
Roy Hodgson, England
Hodgson is a lovely man who has his players feeling good and fans cautiously optimistic about England's chances in Brazil. But when things go wrong, he has a tendency to go...unhinged. During his doomed stint at Liverpool, there was the face rub. Then at West Brom there was the headbanging...
These are the types of behaviors that would make even the most fearsome members of biker gangs cross the street and avoid eye contact. And with England facing Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage, there is a distinct possibility that things could go wrong. If Hodgson starts rubbing his face while headbanging at the same time, it could create the crazed energy necessary to open up a wormhole that sucks the known universe into an alternate dimension.
So keep an eye on Roy Hodgson. And maybe wear a helmet during England's matches just in case.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Diego Maradona
- 2014 World Cup
- 2010 World Cup
- Didier Deschamps