PARIS: Raymond Domenech kept his own counsel about his ultimately doomed management of France until he had secured a rich settlement for his abrupt sacking on the return from the World Cup shambles in South Africa writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Now, two and half years later, all his pent-up anger and resentment has cascaded out in an autobiography entitled Tout Seul [‘All Alone’] in which he settles his scores with Nicolas Anelka and Frank Ribery plus a supporting cast of sulky egotists.
Domenech was promoted from under-21s boss in 2004. His France reached the 2006 World Cup Final, losing only on penalties to Italy after Zinedine Zidane’s suicidal headbutt. But they tumbled out of the Euro 2008 finals in the first round and suffered the same fate in the 2010 World Cup.
The latter campaign was wrecked by Domenech’s halftime row with Anelka during defeat by Mexico then a players’ training ground strike.
Domenech does not spare his readers details of the verbal exchange with Anelka, couched in terms last aired publicly during the John Terry trial. He acknowledges that captain Patrice Evra tried to cool tempers, in vain.
The smattering of other players who come in for praise include Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele (“the sort of man and player coaches dream about”).
Domenech describes Bayern Munich winger Ribery as “a diva” in whom he now regrets having placed his trust at Euro 2008. He is also derisive about midfielder Samir Nasri and striker Karim Benzema, describing them as “Bosman’s children” i.e. players brought up in an era in which earnings outstripped achievement.
Malouda, says Domenech, sulked because the coach did not allow him to choose his own role in attack. Domenech also recalls Anelka and William Gallas laughing together after the final damning result: “What an attitude! Were they really rejoicing in our defeat?”.
Domenech also admits, with hindsight, that Thierry Henry did not deserve selection because he had started so few games for Barcelona that season.
This will exacerbate the bitterness felt by Irish fans, remembering Henry’s controversial handball assist for the goal which helped send France, rather than Ireland, to the finals.
Domenech aroused confusion in South Africa because he was the man who read out the players’ statement explaining their training ground strike. He admits he handled the entire incident utterly wrongly but hints that other influences were at play behind the scenes.
He says: “My first thought was that players were not capable of having written the statement themselves . . . because it used language which most of them did not understand.”
The strike represented, he thought, “collective suicide.”
It also killed his own reputation and career.
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