Jorge Sampaoli’s tenure as Argentina head-coach has been woeful, to say the least. The former Sevilla boss somehow managed to turn the 2014 World Cup finalists from a team of accomplished footballers who could play well together to a squad of 23 seemingly uninterested individuals, who have no clue as to what they are doing or what is expected of them as professionals.
The writing is on the wall, and has been for quite some time now: Sampaoli has got to go.
Be it refusing to pick Mauro Icardi for the squad to Russia or leaving all of Dybala, Higuain and Di Maria on the bench during crunch games, a spate of inexplicable, confounding decisions left the Albiceleste teetering on the verge of a group-stage exit, before Messi and Rojo rescued the day in an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Nigeria.
The ‘Round of 16’ clash against France saw the Albiceleste snatch an unlikely lead for just 9 minutes, but a rampaging Kylian Mbappe and midfield pivot of Pogba and Kante soon overpowered Leo Messi’s side.
The 2014 finalists thus endured one of their most disappointing World Cup campaigns and could spark mass retirements of several senior players, even as Mascherano and Biglia announced their decision to hang up their boots.
It appears to be a case of when, and not if, Sampaoli is sacked as Argentina coach. A hugely talented squad of under-performers will require a person of iron will and great technical ability to be in charge, rather than a manager who is prepared to throw every single player under the bus following a disappointing result.
Here, we take a look at 3 managers who could replace Sampaoli as Argentina coach after he gets the boot:
3 ALEJANDRO SABELLA
Could he back in the
Sabella coached Argentina to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final against Germany, where they lost 1–0 in extra time. The last time Argentina had advanced beyond the quarter-finals was when they made the final in 1990 where they lost 1–0 to West Germany.
Sabella had scheduled his resignation for after the conclusion of the World Cup, stating on the eve of the final that the result would not change his mind.
During his tenure, there may not have been anything particularly flashy or thrilling about Argentina’s play, yet there was a degree of efficiency and team-spirit the current squad would kill to have.
While in charge, Sabella accomplished what appears to be the world’s most difficult task: establishing a system that allows Messi to flourish apart from accommodating players who can lend adequate balance and support to the superstar.
Although Sabella hasn’t taken up a job since the previous World Cup, he seems to be the perfect candidate to be Sampaoli’s replacement. Sabella’s hugely under-rated tactical nous and excellent man-management skills may just get the best out of an Argentina squad bristling with talent.
2 DIEGO SIMEONE
Perhaps the man most qualified to take Argentina forward is none other than Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
The midfielder was capped over 100 times for the Argentina national team and represented the country at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups, and in four editions of the Copa América, winning the tournament in 1991 and 1993. He also won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1992, and a silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympic games.
“To coach the [Argentina] national team will always be a life objective, but I am not waiting on it, it will come in the future,” Simeone had said.
One of the original contenders to replace Bauza as head coach, Simeone has publicly acknowledged his desire to take charge of the Albiceleste at some point in his career.
Simeone has already won La Liga, UEFA Europa League (twice) and Copa del Rey with Atletico, apart from making it to two UEFA Champions League finals, and the Argentina job may well be the next big challenge in his career.
One of the elite managers in club football currently, Simeone is known for how well-organized and combative his teams are, focusing on lightning-quick counters to score goals.
If appointed as coach, Diego would instill a fighting spirit in this rather timid Argentina side, and could get them to shore up that leaky defence while allowing the likes of Messi and Dybala to run riot on counters
1 MARCELO GALLARDO
Marcelo Daniel Gallardo is an Argentine former footballer and current manager of River Plate
Gallardo demonstrated throughout his playing days that he was a superb creative outlet, possessing skills comparable to the likes of Andrea Pirlo, and this ability to see the match unfold in front of him would prove vital to his career as a manager.
Gallardo translates his knowledge of the game into a method of coaching that creates attacking football with a strong identity, defensive shape, and players willing to adhere to his tactical acumen.
In 2014, Gallardo took charge of River Plate, where he has enjoyed tremendous success.
“I was born to take on big challenges,” Gallardo said at his introductory press conference.
Gallardo’s style of play was widely lauded by the Argentine press, with the team matching the club’s all-time unbeaten record on 9 November with 32 undefeated games, losing to Estudiantes de La Plata three days later. Marcelo Gallardo remains the most successful coach at an international stage in the club’s history, with a total of five official international titles.
The future is certainly bright for Gallardo, who has made use of advanced coaching techniques, a rare ability to bond with his players on and off the pitch, and his invaluable playing experience to craft out the early stages of what could result in Argentina’s next great coaching star.
Who do you think should replace Sampaoli? Kindly drop your opinions