Diego Maradona's chaotic reign as Argentina coach ended last night when he was effectively dismissed by the executive committee of the Argentinian Football Association.
As recently as Sunday it had been expected that Maradona would be handed a new four-year contract despite Argentina's humiliating 4-0 defeat to Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals earlier this month. However, it is believed that Maradona insisted that his large support staff should also be retained and this proved the major sticking point.
In a statement the AFA said: "The president of the Argentinian Football Association, Julio Grondona, made the members of the executive committee aware of the conversation with Diego Maradona, setting out the points which had come out from the meeting. The executive committee unanimously resolved not to renew the contract with Diego Maradona." An AFA spokesman added: "Maradona's requirements were very far from the FA's possibilities".
In his 21 months in charge Maradona used 107 players and only just succeeded in taking Argentina to South Africa with a 1-0 win over Uruguay in their final qualifying match. A sparkling start to the finals proved deceptive and with World Player of the Year Lionel Messi looking below-par they were picked off on the counter-attack by the Germans in the last eight, when Maradona's tactical short-comings were ruthlessly exposed.
Argentina's next game is against Ireland in Dublin on 11 August but they hope to appoint a successor to Maradona before taking on world champions Spain in September. Alejandro Sabella, the coach of 2009 Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes who also once played for Sheffield United and Leeds, has been made early favourite.