Home > Football > Les Bleus: Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?

Les Bleus: Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?

There has been much criticism of the World Cup so far with many saying that it has been, well, a bit boring. Such critics point to a lack of goals, annoying vuvuzelas and overly negative tactics, so who would provide some entertainment? Enter France.

Raymond Domenech’s team was not one of the pre-tournament favourites, but a side that contained the likes of Patrice Evra, Florent Malouda, Franck Ribéry and Hugo Lloris was certainly expected to progress past the group stage. If truth be told, their World Cup campaign was a disaster from day one. The opening day of the tournament saw them turn in a lacklustre performance in a drab 0-0 draw with Oscar Tabarez’s Uruguay and that was the high point of France’s tournament.

Raymond Domenech has always straddled the line between enigma and laughing stock, mainly due to his open admission that he uses astrology during team selection (he apparently mistrusts Scorpios) and he was heavily criticised before he had even boarded the plane to South Africa. His decision to leave the likes of Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema and Kevin Gameiro at home was viewed with bemusement and the abject performances of Sidney Govou and Yoann Gourcuff in the opening game did little to ease the pressure on the manager. If Les Bleus were poor against Uruguay, then they were truly abject against Javier Aguirre’s Mexico. It became clear as that game went on that something was not quite right in the French camp. Quality players who give their all week in week out at club level were clearly not trying and at no point was this better illustrated than when Patrice Evra seemingly let Pablo Barrera ghost past him and surge in to the box where a lazy tackle from Eric Abidal conceded a penalty. Mexico deservedly won the game 2-0 and it was clear that a story was unfolding.

The next day, we found out what that story was. Nicolas Anelka had been sent home following a row with Domenench with French sports magazine L’Equipe claiming that the Chelsea striker had called the manager ‘a stupid son of a bitch.’ Whether the decision to expel Anelka from the squad was the decision of Domenech or whether the French Football Federation (FFF) went above his head and did it, seems to be unclear and a matter of much debate. The consequences of this action however, were undoubtedly disastrous. The following day, the players ‘downed tools’ and refused to train. France’s World Cup had gone from poor to catastrophic. Patrice Evra almost came to blows with a fitness coach, a member of the FFF resigned there and then and Domenech looked like a rabbit in headlights. Chaos reigned. Domenech attempted to calm the situation by releasing a statement, although again, it seemed more like the action of the FFF.

A much-changed France team went through the motions against the host nation yesterday, eventually losing 2-1 and they are already back in France, where the finger-pointing has begun in earnest.

The captain of the sunken ship, Patrice Evra, has said that he was dropped for the South Africa match ‘for no valid reason’ and he has vowed to lift the lid on the whole World Cup debacle. The issue has been deemed so serious that the French government is having its say with Nicolas Sarkozy due to meet Thierry Henry in Paris tomorrow.

Domemech is of course the outgoing French manager with the FFF having announced the appointment of Laurent Blanc prior to the World Cup. Perhaps this was a major mistake, but whatever the case, the behaviour of the French players cannot be condoned. They had the honour of representing a great nation in the world’s biggest sporting event and they disgraced that nation as well as themselves. Florent Malouda, obviously looking at the situation in the cold light of day, seems to have realised this, stating that ‘our behaviour was not exemplary and I would like to apologise to the fans.’ Other countries have teetered on the edge of such a disaster before, most notably the Netherlands, but nobody has imploded on such a monumental scale as France has this time (at least not that I recall). For the likes of Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra and Florent Malouda, that may well have been their last shot at winning a World Cup and one cannot help but feel that when they look back on South Africa 2010 in years to come, they may just think that they cut off their noses to spite their own faces.

Categories: Football
  1. Superiorraw
    June 28, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Bang on that for me. I spoke at length to you about this, it probably wont sink in fully for them until they retire. The ship has sailed for them now as a team, Laurent Blanc now has a job of rejuvenating the National Side. I guess he only has to look across the border at Loew and see what he has done with the Germany team to see ‘how its done’.

    For me theres usually ‘no smoke, without fire’ the article about Domenech’s handling of Makelele a few years back was the final straw for me, as much as I’ve harped on about transition in national teams over the last week, i think that applies with the coaching staff just as much it does with the players.

    Good Article

    • June 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm

      We don’t know exactly what has gone on but when someone releases a book in a year or two, we’ll get a player’s view on it. Either way, the reaction to it from the players is not what one would expect of professionals.

      As for transitions, I agree. I think the time to do away with Raymond Domenech was after their disastrous Euro 2008 campaign. I still don’t understand why they stuck with him. Blanc now has a job on, but with some decent young and young-ish players like Benzema, Lloris, Nasri, Gameiro and Ben Arfa, he does have some talent to work with

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