It was the night, when France would put right the wrongs of their sluggish, opening group performance, against Romania. To show that they were a credible threat at this years European championships.
So much for that. After their defeat to Holland, coach Raymond Domenech spoke frankly about his team. ‘Certain players did not do what they had to do. The players have to show themselves worthy of wearing the French shirt. Big players have to know how to get over things like this, and to come back.”
Well there is no doubt, that the French coach is correct in his assessment. But it’s a sure sign that all is not well in the French camp, that the coach has to speak out in public about these sensitive, internal issues.
Perhaps its an indication, that his players are simply not listening to him. For if they were, Domenech would know, that he could make these comments, directly to them, and they would respond positively.
In football parlance, he appears to have lost the dressing room. Of course, it may be a last resort tactic by Domenech. Designed to anger his players. to provoke them into an ‘I’ll show you’ response.
But it’s likely that morale is now so low in the French camp, that players may no longer care. They may just want to get to the European beaches, and see the back of their coach.
This is a vastly experienced French team. The oldest the French have put out at a European Championships. Perhaps Domenech would be better off, in ditching his policy of relying on experience, and reward those younger players in the squad, who have a real hunger to perform.
Either way, this is a critical point in the international career of Raymond Domenech. Unless he injects his team with the passion and intense desire to qualify, then they will be leaving this tournament on Tuesday evening. And Domenech will be out of work.
With everything on the line, it’s time for the truth. Whether frank talk can resolve the problems in the French squad, will depend on the level of respect the players have for the coach. The respect they have for each other. The respect they have for themselves.
If, Raymond Domenech and his team, do pull it off against Italy on Tuesday night, then there may be no looking back for the French coach and his team. But, it’s a very big if.