The World Cup in 2010 will go down in history for a few things. Vuvuzela’s, The first World Cup in Africa, England’s abysmal showing, Germany’s bright future, Netherlands awful tactics and the Spanish proving they are the best side in the world. Yet one other event for me outshone them all. The French camps implosion in to cliques, strike action and mole’s leaking information to the press.
Yesterday, every single member of the World Cup squad was put on suspension for the next match, a friendly against Norway on August 18th though most of them will return for the European Championship qualifiers that begin in September. It is a bold statement by the new manager, Laurent Blanc, but something had to be done, though the previous manager, Raymond Domenech is hardly an innocent in all this.
Domenech was universally disliked by the French media and public and I was surprised after the Euro 2008 debacle that he didn’t lose his job then. IN an interview after the tournament many people tuned in to see him resign, instead he proposed to his girlfriend. A man who picked the squad based on astrology was always going to be on shaky ground. The team struggled through qualification and of course there was the now infamous handball incident that tarnished the team, the manager and of course Thierry Henry. It was a millstone that ultimately broke the squad’s strength, they simply couldn’t deal with the bad press that came of it.
Even during the World Cup group stage draw, in the run through before the draw started properly, Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron, on drawing France’s name from the pot, announced “IRELAND” to rapturous applause from the crowd. From that moment on, the scene was set, everyone wanted the French to fail. It was a wall of negativity the team could never clamber over and the World Cup was 12 days of hell for everyone involved.
The 7 Premiership players who were part of that squad are all now unavailable though Samir Nasri will be glad he missed out and should return to the squad from here on in. The question is how can those players recover from the emotional and damaging campaign positively. Often, poor performances in a summer tournament can often lead to players wanting to hit the ground running when a new domestic season starts.
Yet the whole strike debacle, the Anelka argument, the trainer storming off the ground and throwing his accreditation in to the bushes only served to make everyone who wished the French ill highly delighted. Throw in the ongoing prostitute story and all of a sudden you have a lot of Irish fans invoking Karma! Coupled with the dreadful performances in all 3 matches and the players involved could suffer something of a post World Cup hangover.
William Gallas has still to find a club after his contract expired with Arsenal, Anelka’s reputation has never been very positive throughout his career. Patrice Evra, outed as ringleader has seen his normally cool exterior sullied and the Arsenal trio of Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Abou Diaby must have wondered what on earth they’d let themselves in for. At least they don’t still play in the French League, so they can be spared the reception that will meet some of their international colleagues.
It will be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti and Alex Ferguson pick these players up and get them fired and ready for the new season.
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