Once in a Blue Moon...
Following France's pitiful exit from Euro 2008 - which was reminiscent of a similar national disgrace at the 2002 World Cup - many former players and managers have as usual debated the whys and hows of this latest embarrassment.
Yes, les Bleues were pitted against a resolute Romania outfit alongside Italy and Holland in the 'Group of Death'. Yes, they did miss their inspirational leader Patrick Vieira and, later, their primary creative force Franck Ribery.
But where was the passion that the French pride themselves on in so many aspects of life? Where was the drive, the hunger? Where was the quality? They shipped six goals and scored just one. Things don't add up...
Even without a couple of key players, Raymond Domenech still had the luxury of leaving the experienced David Trezuguet and Philippe Mexes out of the squad as well as the much-vaunted Hatem Ben Arfa.
Instead, he went with the tried-and-tested players such as Abidal, Thuram, Sagnol and Gallas. However, it is no surprise that such players struggled given the disappointing seasons they suffered at their respective clubs. Sagnol made just 9 appearances for Bayern Munchen all season, Thuram spent most of his time warming the bench in Spain. Players who were hardly at the peak of their game!
Much has been made of Domenech's role in their downfall and questions will continue to swirl around the French press as to why Anelka was preferred to Benzeman initially, why Nasri and Diarra didn't get more minutes and why Domenech only gave starts to 15 different players over the course of a tight schedule. Why didn't France show more class and attacking verve against Romania in their must-win game?
Did Domenech not trust his so-called 'squad players' to perform? Whilst the French Ligue 1 has never been known as a strong, competitive league, a large number of players that represented the country at this year's tournament ply their trade abroad.
Nevertheless, it is still the responsibility of a group of players with an enviable amount of talent and an ideal blend of youth and experience to do what is expected of them by millions of fans and that for which they are so handsomely rewarded. They shirked this responsibility. When the going got tough, which of the players held their hand up? Who inspired? Who got angry? Nobody.
Domenech will learn his fate on 3 July at a meeting held by the FFF in Paris. There is plenty of evidence for those after his head. Likewise, there is a case for many of the new generation of players to replace some of the deadwood. The investigation has but begun.
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