After an utterly woeful 2018 World Cup campaign, time seems to be drawing to a close on Jorge Sampaoli’s stint in charge of the Argentinian national team. Whilst he is an extremely talented coach, and the Argentinian FA may still give him time to build with the next generation.
Their last three managerial appointments since Alejandro Sabella’s 2014 World Cup push simply have not worked out and if they want to be serious challengers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, someone with know-how and experience on the big stage must be appointed and given time.
5. Mauricio Pochettino
Perhaps the least likely on this list to be appointed due to his commitments with Tottenham Hotspur in England, Mauricio Pochettino is one of the top coaches in Europe and would be the ideal man to oversee the inevitable generational transition that will occur in the Argentinian camp in the coming weeks, with Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia already announcing their international retirement.
He has a proven track record in regards to handling youth prospects – just look at Harry Kane’s rapid progression at Spurs – and would be welcomed in to the post by the Argentine public due to his playing career as part of Marcelo Bielsa’s successful Newell’s side of 1992. However, his favoured three man back line and possession based football are eerily similar to Sampaoli’s, and this, coupled with the fact that he has yet to win a title as a manager, may prove too big a gamble for the FA to take.
4. Ricardo Gareca
Having guided them to their first world cup in 40 years, along with two successful Copa América campaigns, there is not much left for Ricardo Gareca to accomplish as Peru manager. Much like Pochettino, he would be accepted into the role as he played in Argentina and scored the goal – ironically against Peru – that secured qualification to the 1986 World Cup, although Carlos Bilardo ultimately left him out of the final squad.
While it is unclear as to how he would react to the new players breaking through, as he has largely dealt with the same core of players at Peru since being appointed in 2015, he would bring a lot more defensive resilience to a side that is in desperate need of it, while still playing attractive attacking football that may convince the superstar forwards to stick around a little while longer.
3. Alejandro Sabella
Unemployed since leaving this post following the 2014 World Cup, Sabella could be the perfect option to squeeze whatever is left out of this supposed golden generation and make one last push alongside Lionel Messi for the 2022 World Cup. To date, he is the only coach that has managed to get the best out of the world’s best player while wearing the iconic white and sky blue jersey, as was shown with Messi notching four goals and bagging two assists in the last World cup, as well as scooping up the golden ball as the tournament’s best player. Sabella’s tactical prowess is second to none and his old fashioned approach in Brazil four years ago almost led them to glory.
His four defenders were out and out defenders, he had two natural wingers playing flanking a robust but solid central midfield partnership of Mascherano and Biglia, and Messi played as a ‘false nine’ or an ‘enganche’ off of Gonzalo Higuaín in a flat 4-4-2 (4-4-1-1) formation. His preferal to Higuaín over Sergio Agüero was controversial – especially when looking at the formers miss in the final – but it was necessary as Higuaín held up the play to allow Messi freedom, something which Agüero would not do. Having already found success with this core of players, this appointment may work for Argentina, no matter how uninspiring it may be.
2. Marcelo Gallardo
While this coach may be largely unknown outside of South America, he is revered in his native country and is the second most successful coach in River Plate history, despite being appointed a measly four years ago and being only 42 years old.
Just one in a long line of coaches influenced by the great Marcelo Bielsa, having played under him for the national team, Gallardo has reinstated River Plate as serious competitors again, and lead them to the Copa Libertadores title – the South American equivalent of the Champions League – in 2015, as well as a Copa Sudamericana and two successive Argentinian cups. If the higher ups are looking for a man to lead Argentina for the foreseeable future, and not just a transitional head coach, then Gallardo is surely their top candidate.
1. Diego Simeone
Diego El Cholo Simeone is a living legend on the Rojiblancos side of Madrid. Appointed in the winter of 2011 following the sides embarrassing Copa Del Rey defeat to minnows Albacete, he immediately turned their results around and finished the season winning the UEFA Europa League. Atlético Madrid achieved the nickname ‘El Pupas’ ( the jinxed ones ) in Spain as their fan base believed that they were destined to forever finish second best, but Cholo changed everything and has since gone on to win multiple Europa League titles, the Spanish cup in 2013, the Spanish top flight in 2014 as well as agonisingly finishing as runners-up in the Champions League to rivals Real Madrid on two occasions.
Considering he has previously expressed his desire to manage his nation at some point in his career, and with the current Argentinian setup in desperate need of organisation, is there anyone better than Diego Simeone and his assistant Germán Burgos? Perhaps not.