Argentina part company with manager after dreadful World Cup campaign

Oli Fisher
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Jorge Sampaoli’s reign as Argentina boss ended on Sunday evening in the wake of a disastrous World Cup finals campaign.

The Argentine Football Association announced that the 58-year-old had left his post by mutual consent amid rumours of a dressing room coup in which it was claimed that senior players Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi had effectively taken up the reins.

An AFA statement said: “Today, the Argentine Football Association and the former national team coach, Jorge Sampaoli, have mutually agreed to the termination of their contract.

“Likewise, the physical trainer Jorge Desio and the video analyst Matias Manna have also left.

“Next Tuesday it will be decided who will be in charge of the under-20 team in the COTIF L’Alcudia 2018 tournament.

“The association thanks the professionals for their work with the team during their time.”

Sampaoli’s departure comes a little more than 12 months into the five-year contract he signed last summer, although was far from unexpected given events in Russia.

Argentina arrived at the tournament with many speculating that they were a one-man team which relied heavily on the brilliance of Messi, and even the mercurial Barcelona star was unable to inspire them.

Sampaoli’s touchline antics and eccentric selections characterised a chaotic campaign which saw them held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland in their opening Group D fixture before being trounced 3-0 by eventual finalists Croatia in their second.

It took a late Marcos Rojo goal to secure a 2-1 victory over Nigeria and their passage into the last 16 as runners-up, although reports later claimed television footage had shown the coach asking Messi whether or not he should introduce substitute Sergio Aguero.

In any event, the respite proved temporary as the South Americans bowed out of the tournament after France, who went on to lift the trophy, got the better of a seven-goal thriller in which Aguero’s late strike briefly gave them a glimmer of hope.

Argentina’s showing should perhaps not have come as too great a surprise after they finished third in qualifying, 13 points behind Brazil and three adrift of Uruguay having won only seven of their 18 games.