Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Open letter to Domenech
Mon Cher Raymond,
With just over 72 hours until your team officially kicks off its World Cup adventure I wanted to send you some words of encouragement and advice. As the world takes a 1 month vacation and all turn their eyes to South Africa, 60million French fans will be tuning in on Friday June 11th to watch Les Bleus take the pitch in the second game of the tournament to take on 2 time World Cup winner Uruguay in what will be a crucial match for France (aren't they all!).
So Raymond, what do you have in store for us? The 4-3-3? Or back to the 4-2-3-1? Or maybe a brand new formation! Will you leave Titi on the bench? Can Govou really be your best option on the right wing (which is currently as offensive and successful as the Maginot Line)? Are you really sure that Abidal is a serviceable center back? Is Gallas really angry that he did not get the captain's armband? I am resigned to the fact that your incredible stubbornness and somewhat questionable tactical sense will ensure that the players and formation we see on the field Friday will give us a chance to win but also for embarrassment. You clearly have a better sense of why someone like Gignac - a center forward - should play on the wing. Or where Henry fits into your master plan. Or the real reason why a player like Nasri - who can hold the right wing or play maker role - should be watching the tournament from his television set (wouldn't it have been smart to take the Arsenal man also because he plays on the right for his club with Sagna behind him...hmmm that might have made the French right a little more formidable). From the reports, both Benzema and Nasri were left at home because of their egos and attitudes. My question is what player at this level does not have an over inflated ego? Isn't that the job of the coaching staff and veterans on the club to curb and control for the betterment of the team? I have long since given up hope that you will be able to manage this group of men in such a way to give us a glimmer of hope - look at what Capello is doing with England, his sheer presence is making the three lions everyone's darling this tournament.
So what can we do as fans other than root for you and the team. Hope and pray that somehow over the next 72 hours the team figures out what they want to be, how to use the right side of the field, who will score, how to defend set pieces, how to avoid giving up silly goals, what the substitution rotation will look like, how to best utilize Valbuena just to name a few issues...unfortunately your track record does not give me great confidence that we can expect such a miracle.
Granted you are the first French manager to ever qualify Les Bleus for 3 straight tournaments. You did "lead" Les Bleus to an unexpected run to 2nd place in Germany, along the way defeating the much ballyhooed Spanish, the 5 time champs Brazil and the strong Portuguese - you might have even beaten the flopping Italians had Vieira not been hurt or had Zizou not lost his mind! You found a way to get France into the Euro 2008...only to leave with our tails between our legs with 1 whole point...I commend you for not resigning at that point, most managers would have done so on their own accord, at least not propose to his girlfriend on television! Not you Raymond! Who would want to give up such a hard earned paycheck. You clearly knew you had more work to do, a legacy to continue to build upon. Bravo.
You have more than accomplished this. Struggling to qualify for the World Cup in a group, most believe was France's to lose...which they did. You somehow overcame a scrappy Ireland to get to South Africa, thanks to the Hand of Gaul. Then you proceeded to give us a list of 30 players without the likes of Nasri, Benzema, Mexes, Remy to name a few but include Govou....well at least you did not take your other binky Boumsong. Your desire to go to a 4-3-3 is commendable, too bad you are not slotting the proper players in their proper places - aka Valbuena on the right and a true center forward. However I am sure your astrology will allow you to somehow manage Les Bleus to achieve something positive this summer...I hope.
I can only send you well wishes, since clearly any advice would fall on deaf ears. I will wear one of my many France strips and hope it sends Les Bleus some good vibes (ironically the one I have on is Nasri #11). I hope that France figures out its scoring issues. That somehow the attack can be balanced from the right. That Gourcuff has a chance to shine. That Ribery has a strong tournament. That the central defense holds up. That France can defend set pieces. That Les Bleus find a way to play to the level their talent should allow.
Bon chance Raymond. I hope that Laurent Blanc does not have to start his new job on June 23rd.