Didier Deschamps has put himself in one of the proverbial hot seats in the soccer coaching world, answering the call of his country to try and erase some of the misfortune and anarchy that has marred France's international team for the last four years. With much of the bad press France has endured during the last two competitions, the job will not be easy.
Deschamps has a sparkling resume as a player and a coach. The captain of France's 1998 World Cup champion has been a leader every step of the way. He is going to have to bring every leadership skill to the table to point this ship right. Deschamps' predecessor, Laurent Blanc, made solid progress in his two years at the helm, but saw all his hard work get brushed aside as some players showed their dark sides in front of the world.
The attitudes carried by some of France's key players is one of the first things Deschamps must take care of. Some players view selection to the national team as an entitlement, their right as a talented player. They have to view it as the honor it really is. The players are there to represent their nation as a whole. I know this is cliched, but the team is bigger than the individuals that make it up. Many of France's players lost sight of this a long time ago.
Deschamps must put these egos in check with a zero tolerance policy. You get one chance to check your ego at the door. Any blow ups, tantrums or other actions that can be considered prima donna acts will be met with suspension or dismissal.
France has a deep pool of talent. Deschamps can use this to his advantage by calling a multitude of different players into national team camps to have a look at. The competition will increase the pressure for the players to put forth their best. It will also give Deschamps a chance to see what pieces are the right fit for the direction he wants this team to take.
France has enough talent to be a contender at the 2014 World Cup. They will not be favorites by any means, but on paper they have the horses to carry them deep into the tournament. A change of attitude is the key component to all of this. If Deschamps cannot get the players to buy into the national pride required to perform together, then the run of recent form will continue.
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