A World Cup winner in 1978, Ardiles was left bitterly disappointed at Argentina's exit at the hands of Germany on Saturday.
And he blamed a lack of experienced holding players - including Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Juan Riquelme - for the 4-0 thrashing in Cape Town.
"Argentina were a team of individuals. This was Messi, Tevez and Co against the organisational efficiency of a German machine," Ardiles wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
Despite questioning Maradona's tactics, Ardiles refused to be too critical of him, and also heaped praise on the way a young Germany side are proving to be one of the best attacking teams at the tournament.
"Was I upset by the way Argentina played?" asked Ardiles.
"No, because Diego Maradona and his squad died having shown their cards. This was going to be their style, but you are not going to win a game with individuals against a team as organised as Germany now are. Naïve? Yes, but I don't want to be too critical of Diego, or pillory him.
"Maradona brought fresh air into the tournament, he brought colour, he brought humour, and he showed in South Africa that he is neither a clown nor a crazy man. In fact, the world watching began to love him. It was an honour to play with him and it remains one of the best things that happened in my life.
"He has made mistakes, he's new into management, he's human.
"(But) my worry all the time was that we were not taking our best players."