FIFA World Cup 2010: What Has Raymond Domenech Done To French Football?

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IJune 18, 2010

The Simpsons are to blame! 

Since an episode first aired in 1995, the French have been referred to as "cheese eating surrender monkeys." It was grounds-keeper Willie who first uttered those immortal words and how apt they were last night when France surrendered to the Mexicans.

And no, no-one will laugh if you think that was grounds-keeper Willie standing on the sideline under the illusion of being French manager.

A French side packed with above average ability folded to a side who were terrier like in their will to win.

At 0-0, Domenech stood and stared.

At 0-1, Domenech stood and stared.

At 0-2, Domenech stood and stared.

At full-time he toddled down the tunnel as if he had just been in charge of a local side's U-10 challenge match. What he had actually done was mastermind the downfall of his country on the biggest international stage of them all.  

How this man has a job (until next week at least) in these times of recession is astounding and laughable.

The French players hate him, the French fans hate him and yet the French Football Association saw fit to make him the longest serving manager in their history.

There is no too ways about it, the guy is a madman. He makes Lady Gaga look sane - one would bet even she would have found room for Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri in a 23-man squad. But not Domenech, instead he took Djibril Cisse who "shone" in the Greek League. Cisse has sat on the bench throughout.

His selection was hardly surprising to the majority. Perhaps Benzema and Nasri had the wrong birthday or the moon was facing the wrong way for them to be picked.

Of course this is referring to World Cup 2006 when Domenech saw fit to leave out the outrageously talented Robert Pires because he is a Scorpio.

"All parameters have to be considered and I have added one by saying there is astrology involved," he said .

"When I have got a Leo in defence, I've always got my gun ready as I know he's going to want to show off at one moment or another and cost us."

Despite this France came within a penalty and a head-butt of winning the World Cup for a second time. When I say "despite this" I mean despite Domenech. The French squad conspired to reach the final despite the manager, not because of him.

Domenech has rode off his "success" in 2006 and somehow managed to keep his position despite France's miserable outing at Euro 2008 when they exited in the first round.

This was followed by a dismal qualifying campaign for this year's World Cup. France finished second in their group and with a helping hand from FIFA/UEFA (they changed the seeding draws so France and Portugal wouldn't meet) and Thierry Henry they stumbled over the line.

The French manager's slim popularity got even smaller when he refused to pour cold water on Thierry Henry's handball and to this day claims France got through fairly.

Last night, France all but bowed out of the World Cup that they had to cheat to reach. After watching the game one would question why they bothered cheating in the first place?

From the manager down to the kit man, not one looked the slightest bit interested in playing.

Did the memo not go out that this is the World Cup they were playing in?

Sidney Govou was the biggest culprit of them all. Just once he broke out of a jog, ONCE! That was when he was running down the tunnel for the half-time oranges. Yet he survived to play until the final quarter of the game.

Meanwhile, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri were sat on a beach somewhere!

As Captain, Patrice Evra looked interested now and again, but all too often he got bored tracking back (and he is the left back remember) and left his opposite number get the better of him.

Abou Diaby had one of his lazy games that Arsenal fans witness all too often.

Franck Ribery contained Les Bleus biggest threat from midfield, but for a finish the French backs decided they didn't need to pass to him, instead they lumped balls down to Andre-Pierre Gignac. This took less energy!

All the while, Domenech stood and stared without a care in the World.

However, it would be remiss to blame all France's ills on the manager.

Yes, he has to take a large proportion of blame. It is his job to get his players playing and find a system that gets the best out of them.

Yet, these are professional athletes and should share some of the responsibility. Last night, it seemed from number 2 to number 11 (Hugo Lloris seemed to have some urgency) not one of them cared about France or the World Cup.

No matter who the manager is, a footballer should want to give a 100% to their country.

Do the problems in French football go beyond Raymond Domenech? One suspects they do.

As of the end of this World Cup he will be removed from the equation to be replaced by the much vaunted Laurent Blanc.

Lets hope that Blanc is installed as manager of France as soon as next week because France don't deserve to be in South Africa. Not because of Henry's handball, but because they simply don't care.


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