Diego Maradona quits as Gimnasia manager amid presidential upheaval at the club

72 days, eight games and three wins. It was never likely to be a long love affair but Diego Maradona’s brief spell in charge of Gimnasia has come to an end.

It seems like only yesterday a tearful Maradona was paraded out on the pitch in La Plata as supporters packed El Bosque to welcome the iconic World Cup winner, their new manager. Rooted to the foot of the table, relegation survival was a long shot but it didn’t temper excitement.

Off the bottom of the Superliga yet still unmoved in the relegation table, a drop out of the top flight remains likely but Maradona had reinvigorated the club and picked up nine of their ten points so far this season. The 59-year-old’s departure comes as a blow to Gimnasia though not an unexpected one.

And not only because of Maradona’s track record of relatively fleeting employment. Gimnasia president Gabriel Pellegrino had played a vital role in bringing the former number ten to the club in September but confirmed that he would not be standing for reelection this weekend, sparking rumours that Maradona would also depart.

This only intensified with Maradona’s girlfriend Rocio Oliva during an interview admitting that Diego would likely leave and already has other offers, coming to a head on Tuesday with Pellegrino confirming the news.

“Maradona is no longer the Gimnasia manager,” Pellegrino told Radio La Red. “He would love to stay, but what he wants is unity.”

 

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Quería comunicarle a todos que renuncio a mi cargo de director técnico de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. Tomo esta decisión con todo el dolor del alma, porque el presidente Gabriel Pellegrino no va a presentarse en las próximas elecciones. Sinceramente me sorprendió que no lo haga. Conversé con él, y luego de escucharlo, tengo que dar un paso al costado. Yo sentí que todos juntos, los empleados del club, mi cuerpo técnico, los médicos, utileros, dirigentes, la gente, y sobre todo estos jugadores, que dejaron la piel en cada partido, estábamos encontrando el camino para que Gimnasia se quede en Primera. Este era el momento de continuar con el proyecto, de buscar los refuerzos necesarios. Por eso mantuvimos la ilusión hasta último momento, porque en cada charla que teníamos con el presi, coincidíamos en que hubiese unidad, para buscar todos juntos el objetivo soñado. Pero lamentablemente no pudo ser. Desconozco el por qué. Ojalá que al que le toque conducir al club, pueda continuar con el trabajo que comenzamos, y logre mantener a Gimnasia en donde merece estar. Sepan que NUNCA voy a olvidar ese primer entrenamiento, cuando volví a entrar a una cancha del fútbol argentino. Les deseo lo mejor, de corazón. Vamos LOBO!!!

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The players are understood to have tried to persuade Maradona to continue but his stance has been unmoved – if the president goes; I go.

Elections on Saturday will see a new president named and so Maradona has left with immediate effect. Reserve coaches Mariano Messera and Leandro Martini will take charge for Sunday’s Superliga clash with Arsenal, the pair having been interim managers previously.

But what next for Maradona? A return to former club Dorados de Sinaloa, who the Argentinian had left in June having failed to gain promotion to Mexico’s top flight, is one of the possible destinations according to reports.

While in Argentina, girlfriend Rocio mentioned approaches from Argentinos Juniors and Godoy Cruz. The latter now the bottom side in the Superliga and without a permanent manager and Argentinos, where Maradona began his playing career, possibly anticipating Diego Dabove leaving to take over at Racing Club.

One thing is certain, the next chapter in Maradona’s career won’t be dull.