Alan Biggs: Sabella shows the thin line between success and failure

Argentina manager Alenjandro Sabella appears dejected after the final whistle of the FIFA World Cup Fina
Argentina manager Alenjandro Sabella appears dejected after the final whistle of the FIFA World Cup Fina
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Media reports suggest that the second most successful coach at the World Cup of 2014 came first as the most criticised.

It could only happen, some might think, to a man associated with Sheffield United! Yet the moaning for which Bramall Lane fans are occasionally accused is friendly fire besides the sniping that Alex Sabella endured throughout the World Cup.

Sabella, once the most exotic signing in Blades history, decided that win or lose in the World Cup final – sadly for him, the latter – he would step down as Argentina boss.

Frighteningly, that is a reflection of the burn-up factor for international coaches.

Sabella had enjoyed - or endured - just three years in a job that he performed very successfully, winning 26 of 41 games, a near 65% success ratio.

It led to Argentina bidding for their first World Cup since his predecessor Diego Maradona almost single-handedly (and literally) orchestrated their triumph of 1986.

After a gap of 28 years, Argentina were again branded a “one man team.” The only real difference was that Lionel Messi finished a loser.

And that, too, is the slim margin of “failure” for Sabella.

Fittingly, it took a former Blade to put his achievements into perspective. Jan Aage Fjortoft noted on Twitter that Messi had scored 17 goals in 61 internationals pre-Sabella. Messi had since plundered 25 in 31 up to his fateful blank in the 1-0 defeat to Germany last Sunday.

We badly need to assess what we mean by failure and why international managers like Sabella become toast so quickly. The relentless inquisition by social, on top of traditional, media is a hugely destructive force.

Well done, Alex.

Never mind your country, Sheffield United is certainly very proud of you.