Everybody needs a scapegoat. When Argentina crashed out of Copa America to Uruguay on penalties, newspapers were quick to ask their readers who they thought was to blame.
The online version of the broadsheet La Nación gave a strong indication of the mood amongst supporters, with them deciding whose doorstep the blame for the failure ought to be placed at. Eight percent said the players were at fault. Thirty-eight percent suggested the coach Sergio Batista must answer his case. Fifty-four percent said the Argentine FA (AFA) president, Julio Grondona, was to blame.
"Demanding he [Grondona] steps down." wrote Juan Pablo Varsky in the same paper, "is politically correct and leaves you with a clear conscience. You can vent your anger on the social networks, and play at being the avenging superhero."
Blaming Julio Grondona is the one-size-fits-all reaction to anything remotely negative that happens in Argentine football. Having presided over AFA since 1979, ultimately the buck stops with him, but simply rallying against him is essentially skirting the issue. There are many other actors in this drama. And, as Varsky points out, Grondona will be re-elected as AFA president this year by the clubs. Not everyone agrees with the online surveys.
In the aftermath of the Copa America exit, amid the anger, the frustration, the complaints, Grondona spoke on local radio station La Red . Only it wasn't Julio, but rather his son, Humberto, who is one of those overseeing the Argentina national teams.
Grondona junior suggested there will be no major shakeup in the national team set up after the Copa America. Sergio Batista will stay on as coach. Carlos Bilardo, who coached the team to the 1986 World Cup win and who is working alongside Humberto Grondona in directing the national team set up, said he may offer more advice to Batista, but there will be no new coach.
Humberto Grondona made a number of observations about the national team that will be understood as directives for Batista - the time is up for certain players, and a new group of players must be brought through.
Based on these comments, it appears that the likes of Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, the Militos - both Gabriel and Diego - and perhaps Nicolás Burdisso will no longer feature with Argentina.
There is a strong consensus that the key problem in bringing through new players is in defense. In the more attacking positions Argentina has plenty of options, but at the back less so. Juan Forlín and Nicolás Otamendi are the best-placed to step in at centre back, but the full back position remains a problem position.
But beyond names, replacements, and who to blame, is the issue of resolving two problems that feed of each other - the team's lack of identity, and Leo Messi.
Having played nearly 50 minutes with an extra man against Uruguay, Argentina failed to capitalize on a golden chance to progress to the semifinals. With 16 chances (to Uruguay's 6), nine of which were on target, perhaps they deserved a goal. Fernando Muslera was in imperious form, but that doesn't disguise the fact that Argentina failed to overrun Uruguay with the extra space and extra man.
And with Leo Messi, they expect to resolve all the problems. Looking at his 53 goals in 55 games in 2010/11, of course supporters expect the earth from him. So how is it that he hasn't scored in 16 official national team matches? This brings us back to the team's identity. There is no clear game plan, with the central idea being essentially that Messi starts and finishes everything. At Barcelona he only has to finish the moves.
Within AFA the idea was to focus on 2014, to start a project and build a team that has the World Cup in Brazil as its aim. The Copa America was the perfect chance to give that project a spring in its step, by winning it on home soil. Instead it has suffered a major set back, and everyone is looking for who to blame...