Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hit out at his left-back Patrice Evra for leading a France revolt after Nicolas Anelka was sent home in disgrace following an outburst against Les Blues’ coach Raymond Domenech.
Whilst Ferguson is probably right about the France captain’s lack of professionalism, surely the bigger question is why the French Football Federation decided to back their coach for so long despite long standing problems in the team’s camp?
Evra led the training ground strike during France’s dismal World Cup campaign ahead of their crunch game against South Africa in the group stages of the competition to protest against Anelka’s dismissal as the players thought it was the wrong decision.
The incident caused shockwaves in French football and even saw the team’s director Jean-Louis Valentin quit his post in disgust of what was going on around him.
However, I believe Les Blues were a ticking time bomb for some time as many of their problems were there to be seen and it was only a matter of time before things boiled over into lunacy.
Also, the conspiracy theorists have had a field day as they discuss the potential problems that are yet to be revealed…such as the ‘traitor’ that Evra referred to in the camp and the reasons why Yoann Gourcuff is such an outcast in the squad.
The FFF must have been aware of the deep rooted problems in the squad and it must have occurred to them that it isn’t normal for there to be so much in-fighting, secrets, scandal and feuds with the coach.
It’s quite understandable that the players got so aggravated by Domenech’s decisions as he left promising young players out of the squad such as Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema in favour of players who are past their prime like Thierry Henry, who hardly kicked a ball during the competition.
Not only was France’s World Cup campaign a disgrace but their qualification into the competition was also a complete joke. They finished second in their group behind Serbia and needed a helping hand from FIFA, who changed the rules of playoffs so seeded teams could not meet each other which meant that France avoided the likes of Portugal and Russia.
They were drawn against a plucky Republic of Ireland side and needed another helping hand to get through. This time it was the hand of ex-Arsenal striker Henry, who controlled the ball with his hand and crossed for William Gallas to score the winner in the dying stages and causing an outrage…what a waste. I can’t help but think Ireland would have made a better go of the World Cup finals than the embarrassing French side.
Even in their exit Domenech showed a complete lack of class after refusing to shake the hands of South Africa’s coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, which was the final action in his shambolic tenure as the national coach.
France’s national football team’s situation has got so ridiculous that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been drawn into the debacle. He gave the squad a dressing down for letting their country down and making French football a complete laughing stock in international football.
Should the players bear the brunt of the blame, or have the problems come from the top of the French footballing hierarchy? Will things get worse for French football before they get better?