Buenos Aires: A number of high-profile coaches, including Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, are being mentioned by fans and media as the best candidates to take the helm of the Argentine national football team, which had a disappointing World Cup, according to media reports.
Peru team coach Ricardo Gareca; Marcelo Gallardo of River Plate; Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham; Colombia coach Jose Pekerman and Jorge Almiron of Atletico Nacional, are also on the wish list of many fans, Argentina media have reported.
The sports daily Ole conducted a poll to identify the public’s choice to replace Jorge Sampaoli, who agreed on Sunday to step down as national team coach.
One third of the respondents said Simeone was the ideal coach to lead the Argentine national team, while 29 per cent supported Gallardo.
Gareca was identified as the best coach by 13 per cent of the respondents, while 11 per cent said Pochettino was the best choice and 7 per cent gave their support to Matias Almeyda.
Argentina fans had high expectations from their team heading into the World Cup.
Argentina’s squad was headlined by Barcelona superstar forward Lionel Messi, who failed to score in the round-of-16 defeat against France and had just one goal in the tournament.
Ole ran a photograph of Pekerman on its front page and reported that Argentine Soccer Federation (AFA) president Claudio Tapia wants the veteran coach to lead the national youth teams and play a role in selecting or working with the national team coach.
The daily La Nacion, for its part, said it was “impossible” that the AFA would be able to land Simeone, Pochettino or Gallardo.
La Nacion said Gareca, Almeyda or Ricardo Almiron were the men most likely to be the national team’s next coach.
Infobae, however, did not rule out Guardiola as the next coach, saying that “three emissaries from the leadership” of the AFA “sounded out the circle” of the Manchester City manager.
The daily La Capital also weighed in, reporting that the AFA was only looking at Simeone, Pochettino and Gallardo.
The Clarin newspaper said AFA leaders had not ruled out the return of Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who currently coaches Major League Soccer (MLS) club Atlanta United, to the national team.
In the World Cup, Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in the group phase, while eventual champion France knocked off the South American squad 4-3 in the round of 16.
Sampaoli’s squad was eliminated in the round of 16 by France, which rolled to a 4-2 win on Sunday over Croatia in the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
The 58-year-old Sampaoli used 57 different players in a World Cup cycle of 15 matches, finishing with a 7-4-4 record.