Argentina’s players are not happy with their manager and are asking for him to be given the boot. The team, which lost to Croatia on Thursday night, believes the defeat can be pinned squarely on Jorge Sampaoli, according to reports.
Sampaoli has deflected blame, however, claiming the team isn’t keeping up with its star Messi. "Because of the reality of the Argentina squad, it sort of clouds Leo's brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn't gel with him as ideally as it should. As coaches, we need to realize these things and try to deal with them. I'm the one that needs to accept it," he said after the game.
Though Sampaoli will be present for the team’s final group game against Nigeria, the trainer is being pressured to resign. According to Yahoo Sports, the players held a meeting and requested that Sampaoli not coach the final group game, preferring that general manager, Jorge Burruchaga, step in. Sampaoli was reportedly in his room at the time of the meeting. For now, the Argentinian Soccer Federation isn’t keen on removing the manager.
Though some blame goalkeeper Willy Caballero for Argentina’s loss. Sampaoli believes his strategy may have been part of the problem. "The key to our defeat relates to my responsibility because I'm the coach. I had to devise a plan for this match. Had I set things up differently, things might have turned out much better,” he said. "I don't think it's realistic to put the burden on Caballero. I definitely feel pain. As a coach, it's been a long time since I've gone through this experience and obviously, it's much more painful when I'm wearing the jersey of my country. Our plan for this match didn't work out. We have to put everything we have in the last opportunity we have to fight, give it our all."
Argentina held off elimination when Nigeria defeated Iceland on Friday, though many of the players have already stated that they won’t continue playing for the national team after the World Cup, including Marcos Rojo, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Sergio Aguero, and Angel Di Maria. It is also rumored that Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi may step away as well.
Sampaoli, who has a five-year contract, has only served as manager for two years, therefore, it may not be easy to fire him. His buyout is listed at $20 million, the total worth of the contract. The federation is seemingly reluctant to spend that kind of cash to appease the players.