Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More blues for French football

Thank God I am not French because otherwise I might have to spend every day cursing Raymond Domenech for ruining French football. I also would have had to save some unsavory words for the French federation for allowing Mr. Domenech to remain in his job when clearly the results have been against him. Take today’s French game against Lithuania as an example. Last time I checked Lithuania were not a major power in international power. But that didn’t stop Mr. Domenech from deploying 4 defenders, two holding midfields and only a single forward in Thierry Henry. Seeing that line-up it was not a surprize that France scraped a 1-0 home win, the same score that France recorded a few days earlier in their away win to Lithuania. But then again with Domenech’s team 1-0 or 0-0 is always to be expected.

It is true that the French team started in free fall 2 years before Domenech's time when a tired performance in the 2002 World Cup was followed by a boring and ineffective performance in the 2004 European Championship but Domenech has continued to lower the bar since he was hired in 2004. After the disaster of the 2002 & 2004 tournaments, the French federation needed someone who could harness the young talent that existed in French football and combine that with the experienced squad members to create a balanced team. But Domenech kept recalling the older members and benched the younger squad members. As a result, France produced dull and inspiring performances in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign and only narrowly qualified. These poor results should have been enough to remove Domenech but he was kept:

France 0 – 0 Israel
Faroe Islands 0 – 2 France
France 0 – 0 Republic of Ireland
Cyprus 0 – 2 France
France 0 – 0 Switzerland
Israel 1 – 1 France
France 3 – 0 Faroe Islands
Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 France
Switzerland 1 – 1 France
France 4 – 0 Cyprus

At the 2006 World Cup, France were awful in the group stages drawing 0-0 with Switzerland and 1-1 with South Korea before a 2-0 win over Togo allowed them to reach the last 16. Thanks to senior players like Zidane and Henry France managed to put together a 3-1 win over Spain and followed that with 1-0 wins over Brazil and Portugal to reach the final where they lost out on penalties. The only reason that France reached the final was because the players managed to put together a decent performance and not because of any tactical innovation by Domenech.

Still, he was left in his job and the French poor performances continued through the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. And at Euro 2008, France were by far the worst team and produced three dull games:

France 0 - 2 Italy
Netherlands 4 - 1 France
Romania 0 - 0 France

Despite a string of failures, the French federation incredibly felt that Domenech was the man for the job. So it was no surprize that France started the 2010 World Cup qualifying by losing 3-1 away to Austria. Yes Austria. A 2-1 home win over Serbia and a 2-2 away tie to Romania managed to keep France in the hunt. Even though two 1-0 wins over Lithuania have moved France to second place, these results can't disguise the fact that the team are in trouble.

Maybe the French federation don’t want to win anything or have their national team play beautiful football. Maybe they want to have a soccer team that produces average performances. If that is their goal, then they have the perfect manager in Domenech.

So thank God I am not French because I can safely ignore the average performance of the French team after I am done complaining in my blog... :)


nitesh said...

Vikash Dhorasoo seems to be complaining about all these(esp Raymond Domenech ) and much more in his tour of India to coach street children.

Sachin said...

Vikash would complain as he got shafted by Domenech at the world cup. His film about the world cup incidents including footage of the dressing room was enough for him to get fired by PSG, a very rare thing to happen for a soccer player. I do want to see his film to assess what the fuss was about. Also, Vikash was not the only player to be treated badly as Guily and Pires also felt Domenech's form of vengeance.