For many years Carlos Bilardo campaigned for his players from the 1986 World Cup to be brought as managers to all levels of the national team. These players who eventually became managers are refered to by the Argentine media as the “86 Generation”.
Players like Jorge Luis Burruchaga, Hector Enrique, Sergio Batista, Jose Luis Brown, Nery Pumpido, Oscar Garre, Julio Olarticochea.
Bilardo’s argument to Grondona over the years was that those players deserved an opportunity to work with the national team because of their achievement in winning the 1986 World Cup. It was a historical right that they had earned.
While Grondona agreed on principle and said publicly that he thought it was a good idea for the 86 Generation to get their chance to work with the national team, he held off time after time on giving his official approval.
All of that changed when Maradona was hired as national team manager and Bilardo as national team coordinator. Everything fell in place, the conditions were right and the time had finally come to bring many from the 86 Generation to manage at all levels of the national team.
Sergio Batista took over as manager of the U-20 team.
Jose Luis Brown took over as manager of the U-17 team.
Oscar Garre took over as manager of the U-15 team.
Unfortunately, the youth national teams performances this year under their leadership have been very poor.
The most glaring and biggest failure was the U-20 team, which did not even qualify to the U-20 World Cup.
For a country like Argentina that’s won six U-20 World Cup’s, it is an enormous embarrassment and historical failure to not qualify to that tournament.
The U-15 team also did not qualify to the U-15 World Cup.
And the U-17 did qualify to the World Cup but lost to Colombia despite having a 2-0 lead in the game and was eliminated from the tournament.
It is a first in Argentine football history that all three youth national teams have produced such dismal results.
In the aftermath of this year’s failures, some questions need to be asked:
Should the 86 Generation be given a second chance and continue managing the youth teams?
Should the 86 Generation be fired and a brand new coaching staff be hired immediately?
Should Pekerman & Tocalli be brought back to restore the prestige and winning tradition of the youth teams?
Will Maradona’s status as national team manager help maintain the 86 Generation in charge of all the youth national teams?
All things seem to indicate that Grondona will not make any moves at the moment and will keep Batista, Brown and Garre in charge of their respective teams.
Whether changes are made or not, one thing is certain, the shadow of Pekerman & Tocalli looms very large these days over AFA.