So you had the privilege to speak to Mr. Bianchi. What else did he reveal? I have always wanted to find out why he chose Napoli rather than Sheffield United or why he preferred Italy to England. He must have told you something more......unless you promised not to reveal too many details......
It was a long time ago - about 15 years now - so my memory is a bit hazy. I do remember that he had just been sacked as Inter coach and replaced by Hodgson, and he told me that Massimo Moratti was a confirmed xenophile, as is shown by the number of non-Italian players in his team and the foreigm coaches he has employed.
The only 'trade secret' he revealed was that a week after Napoli won the 1987 scudetto, he begged them to do all they could to win at Ascoli, who needed a point to stay up. But in the best, or worst, Italian tradition the game finished 1-1.
In public Bianchi comes over as a dour and humourless individual. In private he was a very pleasant man with a nice sense of humour. He was also extremely complimentary about my knowledge of football!
As an English student, he was hopeless, and the lessons revolved mostly around football, especially as he was always taking phone calls from his myriad contacts in the game.
Sheffield United? Why he didn't go there was never discussed!! Sorry!
In many respects, cross-generational comparisons are odious, as no-one under 30 can comment on Maradona, nor anyone under 50 on Pelé, but certainly, in terms of skills and club honours, Messi has already matched either. Of course, the major deficit accruing is at international level, so could it well prove that the grave comparative inferiority of Messi's Argentine peers ultimately prevents his recognition as an all-time great?
Nobody disputes that Messi is AN all-time great. The question is, is he, or will he prove to be, THE all-time great?
'Odious' is rather a strong word. Like most things in football, the article is just the expression of an opinion. And there's plenty of film of Maradona and Pele fot those too young to have seen them in the flesh to form their own opinions.
Of course I agree that football has changed since the days of Pele and Maradona. Unfortunately we cannot bring them back and compare them directly with Messi, but that doesn't mean that we can't offer a personal judgement on their relative merits.
As Messi is still playing, it is obvious that a definitive judgement on him must wait, but the article expresses what I feel at the moment.
No criticism of Messi - we are all what nature made us - but Maradona was a leader.
It may be because he is a genius and can make the difficult look easy ('I could do that' but in your heart you know you couldn't) but some of Messi's goals look like the ones that are scored in training sessions, and probably some of this is because he is up against some very porous defences. It is not normal that a player scores two or three goals so regularly that it passes almost without comment.
We may never know how good this Barcelona side is unless or until Messi has a long spell on the sidelines. (Let's hope not, though).
Equally, we may never know how good Messi really is unless or until he finds himself one day in a side where he is the only superstar, as Maradona was at Napoli and with Argentina.
It all depends of definitions. 'Better' would, to me, refer to a technical comparison, one which I believe Messi shades. Maradona could make the ball sing but Messi is relentlessly flawless. Of the usual suspect, I warrant only Cruyff a mention alongside these two in this respect, while there are many a notch or two below.
'Greater' encompasses an element of achievement, not necessarily in quantifiable terms. Messi already has twice the number of significant honours as Maradona but isn't single-handedly responsible for any of them. Pele enters the debate at this stage, as does Zidane, Eusebio, maybe Ronaldo (BRA) etc.
If Messi was 'relentlessly flawless' he would have done it for Argentina, and so far he hasn't. Maradona did. He was 26 in 1986 and Messi is now 25, so perhaps we should see what he achieves in Brazil 2014. But for the moment I would say that though it is diffcult, Messi can be kept quiet, especially when he's playing in the very top games such as Champions League semi-finals against defence-orientated teams like Inter and Chelsea. In his prime, Maradona virtually always left his mark on a game.
I might once have included Ronaldo (BRA) in a list of all-time greats, but in the end I think he fell short, partly through injury and partly through over-indulgence.
But I would add to Toddashton's list Di Stefano, Puskas and possibly Hidekuti, and maybe even Best.
To be harsh, Best is a legend from Northern Ireland, not a Northern Ireland legend. He didn't play in a great generation compared to the one before or very soon after but all the same he only won 37 caps.