PARIS: Laurent Blanc, to no-one’s surprise, has decided he cannot stay on as manager of France when his contract expires next month.
Blanc had been praised widely for the manner in which he had rescued morale and focus after succeeding Raymond Domenech following the scandal-racked retreat from the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
However, it was no secret that Blanc would not have been the first choice of Noel Le Graet who took over less than a year ago as president of the French federation.
Le Graet had then offered Blanc a contract extension through to Brazil but Blanc thought it was then too soon to discuss the issue. After France confirmed their place in Euro 2012 Blanc raised the issue but then it was Le Graet’s turn to put everything on hold until after the finals.
France had gone on a 23-match unbeaten run before losing their third group match in Poland and Ukraine to Sweden. They then lost to Spain in the quarter-finals amid a reopening of all the old immaturity with a dressing room squabble after defeat by Sweden and highly-publicised foul-mouthed exchange between Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri and a journalist.
Clearly Blanc’s authority over his players had been undermined by Le Graet’s refusal of a new contract.
Le Graet and Blanc met on Thursday and intimited that a further discussion would follow. This ended in disagreement. Blanc former trophy-winnign team-mate, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps is favourite to succeed him. Deschamps captained France to win the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.
Blanc had been linked with the Tottenham job left vacant by the departure from White Hart Lane of Harry Redknapp but this appears virtually to have gone to Andre Villas Boas.
Confirming the parting of the ways, the French federation said: “Laurent Blanc has contacted the FFF president, Noel Le Graet, to tell him his decision not to ask for another contract.” The federation’s executive committee is due to meet on Tuesday when a replacement for Blanc will be discussed.
In a statement of his own Blanc said reviewed the on-off contract discussions and said that agreement about the terms of a contract extension was no longer possible. He thanked his coaching staff and the players – “even if not everything has been perfect.”
Earlier in the day Michel Platini, UEFA’s French president, had said he would sorry if Blanc quit. Platini said: “I do not think we have bad players. Progress has been made, we have potential but reaching the quarter-finals was just about the correct level.”
Platini also took a view on the Nasri case. Nasri’s childish behaviour had prompted calls from some senior sports officials back in France for a long suspension of a up to two years from national team duty.
However, Platini said: “A two-year suspension would be absolutely ludicrous. If I had been suspended every time I said something to a journalist I woul not have had many caps.”
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