The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has announced Jorge Sampaoli will not continue as national team head coach following a chaotic World Cup.
A 3-0 group stage defeat to Croatia following a 1-1 draw with Iceland left Argentina on the brink of a humiliating exit in Russia, before just about squeezing through to the knockout phase thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria.
That luck failed in the last 16 against France, however, when they were beaten 4-3 by the eventual tournament winners.
Sampaoli got the Argentina job after building a solid reputation in charge of Universidad de Chile, Chile and Sevilla, leaving the Spanish club at the end of the 2016-17 season after guiding them to Champions League football.
Given the regard many held Sampaoli in, there was great optimism that he would end Argentina’s period of underachievement and finally find the balance between getting the best out of Lionel Messi and making the team a success.
But very little has gone well for Sampaoli and Argentina since he took over in May 2017, with the coach’s continuous tactical tweaks and strange selection choices baffling many.
Throughout the World Cup, Argentina’s deficiencies through the middle and at the back continued to be exploited and France tore them apart at times, taking full advantage of their lack of pace, but Sampaoli failed to make alterations to address the problems.
An AFA statement released on Sunday read: “The Argentine Football Association and Jorge Sampaoli reached a mutual agreement to finish their cycle under the Argentine national team.”
Sampaoli had reportedly been in danger of losing his job as early as the aftermath of their second World Cup game, the 3-0 loss to Croatia.
Claims in Argentina’s media suggested several players had urged the AFA to sack the coach and replace him with Jorge Burruchaga, the team’s general manager.
He managed to cling on and lead them out of the group, but as soon as Argentina failed to get beyond France in Kazan, Sampaoli looked doomed.