When it comes to coaching a national football team, what looks good on paper doesn't always translate to success on the field. Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen, has managed to guide a star-studded Argentina side to four defeats in their last five World Cup qualifying matches. The proud nation faces the possible indignity of a South Africa 2010 play-off with a team from the Concacaf region, or heaven forbid, missing out altogether. Now Bryan Robson, a veteran of three World Cups and one of England and Manchester United's best ever captains, is taking the reins of Thailand. In a similar vein, it's a style-over-substance appointment that has disaster written all over it. True, Robson isn't a managerial rookie in the same ilk as his former international rival Maradona, with a lengthy spell in charge of Middlesbrough, followed by stints at Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United. But to call his track record 'mixed' would be being kind to the 52-year-old who saw three of his clubs suffer relegation and was fired from his last job at Bramall Lane in February 2008 after the fans turned against him. The highlights were making it to three (losing) Cup finals with Boro and staving off the Premier League drop with West Brom on the last day of the 2004-05 season. Robson's hard-drinking reputation hasn't helped. A few years ago, he angrily rejected reports the West Brom board asked him whether he had an alcohol problem before offering him the manager's job. But what is really setting alarm bells ringing are comments Robson has made as he prepares to take over from his ex-England teammate Peter Reid, who lasted just 12 months of a four-year appointment before taking up a job as assistant manager of Stoke City. Robbo told an English football magazine that a move to Thailand would also help his role as a Manchester United ambassador. 'The reason the [Thailand] job was appealing is because I get the best of both worlds,' Robson said. 'It's a great opportunity to get back into management, but hopefully I'll continue to be an asset to United, perhaps even more so now that I'm based in Asia.' The patience of Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi wore thin when Reid asked to combine the second year of his Thailand contract with his new job at Stoke. One wonders how long it will be before Robson's United position distracts him from his Bangkok duties as well. Imagine the reaction in London if Fabio Capello announced that one of the attractions in accepting the England coaching job was to enhance his (currently fictitious) role as ambassador of his former club, Juventus? Unfortunately, Thailand's infatuation with the English Premier League seems to have got the better of its good judgment. A lesser-known coach could probably do a more effective job than a fading icon of British football. Few people outside Asia have heard of Thailand assistant coach Steve Darby, who worked with Reid and will stay on under Robson. But the culturally aware Darby - a club manager in Malaysia and Singapore for a decade - is probably best equipped to get results. 'Even when Peter Reid was there, it was pretty much Darby who ran the show on the training pitch,' an Asian coaching insider said. 'It will probably be the same when Robson takes over, but they will use his name to attract sponsors and interest from the fans.' Is that the way of the future? Bring in a big-name to generate commercial interest while getting someone else to actually get the team ticking over. With Robson commanding big baht, it does seem an unnecessarily expensive and cumbersome process. The reality is that many of the best coaches - Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Guus Hiddink among them - had relatively modest playing careers. Maradona may be only as well equipped to coach Argentina as Pele or Romario are to be in charge of Brazil or Eric Cantona is to guide France: legendary players with a natural gift, difficult to share with mere mortals. Instead of importing English coaches who talk about the challenge of working in 'the Far East', why not look at employing some of the successful coaches already working in Asia's better championships, like the J-League or K-League? Maradona has been told his job is safe, but in the volatile world of South American football you don't have to be a fortune-teller to know that a fourth defeat in a row could see the chair unmercifully yanked from beneath his famous backside. While Robson's first competitive match in charge isn't until next month he's already talking up qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup and 2012 Olympic Games. But like the man he watched his England teammates chase around the Azteca Stadium pitch at the 1986 World Cup, it won't be long before he's also feeling the heat in more ways than one.