France 0-2 Mexico: Death by Domenech!

Watching France flounder and feebly surrender against Mexico raised many deep and damning questions. Most of them around the continued role of Domenech as the Manager.

  1. A recap is worthwhile. In 2006, France did quite badly, drawing their first 2 games and winning the last one 1-0 to progress, behind Switzerland, in a group that also included South Korea and Togo. They scored 3 goals in the group stage, which was 3 more than their last outing in the far east. They then went on to surprise Spain 3-1 in probably their one good game of the tournament, though it needed Henry to play-act to win the freekick for their second goal – which gave them the lead. France followed that by beating a toothless Brazil 1-0 and managed to hold out against a marauding Portugal 1-0. The final of course is history. But France has had a very spotty world cup history, and a terrible one outside of Europe. As Blah points out, the last goal from open play that France scored outside of Europe was Platini in 1986. And of course, they finished bottom of their group in Euro 2008.
  2. So the big question is, what is the deal about Domenech? Why does he persist as the manager? Why have the French FA kept him on till now? Anybody with even a passing knowledge of football can see how prosaic France have been in 3 successive tournaments now under him? That too, over what has arguably been a fairly talented generation of French players. No Zidane perhaps, but they’ve had the best years of Ribery, Evra, Henry, Pires, Trezequet, Gallas, Makalele, Vieira, Silvestre, Wiltord, Saha et all.  Especially given the number of good French coaches, starting with Le Prof practicing around the world!
  3. Bizarrely, the French FA have of course announced that they are replacing Domenech after this world cup. Any football fan will tell you that it is suicidal to announce the departure of a manager in advance – during or before a tournament – it erodes the managers authority immediately.
  4. The French players are surely partly to blame. Yes the manager is rubbish and things don’t look good. But from such world class players you expect more, manager or not! Ribery and Evra are considered amongst the best in their positions in the world. Malouda has had an fantastic season with Chelsea. Their collective anonymity can have no explanations. When Pablo Barrera ran past a near static Evra in the build up to the second goal, his lack of effort was a disgrace to his armband.
  5. Mexico were mobile and organized and their defensive midfielders did a great job to snuff out any French build ups. Dos Santos was penetrative throughout. Barrera was nippy when he came on, Hernandez and Blanco did their jobs when called upon. The result now leaves Mexico and Uruguay in a position where a draw will surely see them both progress irrespective of the France – RSA game. Will either side go for a win? Urugay have a better goal difference, so Mexico need to win the game to avoid facing Argentina in the second round. It’s not over yet.
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