REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
On Sunday, Argentina's football association confirmed the inevitable. Jorge Sampaoli, after the disaster of this summer's World Cup, was to depart. No one was surprised. They had scraped their way through the group stages: a disorganised rabble, a group of individuals hastily assembled, their minds crammed with a litany of convoluted tactical instructions.
It seemed, at times, like no one knew what was going on. By the Round of 16, there were suggestions that the players had taken things into their own hands. They no longer trusted Sampaoli. His constant tinkering, the lack of clarity in his approach, had left them alienated.
Even amid all the chaos, it seemed for a moment that Argentina might reach the quarter-finals and beyond that who knew. But then France blew them away. Argentina came home. They were embarrassed, a fading football power.
Sampaoli has paid the price. He excelled at international level with Chile but this was always different. He attempted to introduce his radical ideas to a group of players who seemed unsuitable, and without the time to put them across properly. With Chile, Marcelo Bielsa had gone before him. There was an ideology in place. With Argentina, Sampaoli inherited a team without identity. He failed to change that.
Now, the attention will turn towards his successor. Whoever takes Sampaoli's place will have an unenviable task. The pressure that comes with the Argentina job will not have subsided. And this group of players is not getting any younger.
Here are five potential successors to Sampaoli: