THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron has broken a monthlong silence to criticize almost every aspect of Diego Maradona’s coaching during the World Cup.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Veron questioned Maradona’s use of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and said Argentina’s midfield was unbalanced, presenting a problem for Messi.
Argentina was ousted from the World Cup in a humiliating 4-0 loss to Germany in the quarter-finals.
"He (Messi) is not used to going near midfield to receive the ball," Veron said on radio La Red. "It is difficult to ask him to go 50 metres with the ball at his feet. Above all, since he had opposing players in front of him. He is not used to playing like this and it showed. It showed on his face.
"Sadly, he didn’t look comfortable in those games. He is never going to be Maradona. He does his own thing and he needs team support to be at his best. Sometime he had it. Sometimes he didn’t."
The former Manchester United and Inter Milan midfielder said he was puzzled why Maradona benched him during the World Cup. He said this contradicted what Maradona told him before the World Cup — that Veron should be the team’s playmaker.
"One moment he told me he wanted me to be the Xavi of the team," Veron said, referring to Xavi Hernandez, the playmaking midfielder for World Cup winner Spain. "Then you see yourself outside and not playing, and this hurts."
Veron, who has represented Argentina since 1996, said he hoped eventually to speak privately with Maradona about his tactical decisions.
Veron also questioned Maradona’s decision to play with three midfielders — Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria and Maxi Rodriguez. Di Maria and Rodriguez played on the outside, often going forward and leaving Mascherano out manned in the middle.
"Angel and Maxi are players used to playing outside, which was always going to leave us with a numeric disadvantage. Javier played against three in most games."
Veron said the next coach should be chosen only on coaching merits.
"They (Argentine Football Association) need to have an open mind and evaluate people working with the team," Veron said. "It has to be someone who is top notch in Argentine football, someone picked on merits. Not because they were members of the ’78 World Cup team or the ’86 World Cup team. I’ve got nothing against those people, but it should be on merits."
Sergio Batista, the Argentine youth coach, has been promoted to interim coach and strengthened his case for the full time job with a 1-0 victory over Ireland on Wednesday.