As I near the end of this series, which I hear, has also been on the agenda of a recent UEFA board meeting – only that, they were all French and nobody understood a word of English – anyway I was saying, I noticed I was leaving somebody out of the list. Well actually quite a few names could have made the final cut, think of people like Materazzi, abortionist John Terry, Luciano Moggi, someone even suggested Gabriel Ivan Heinze and wasn’t really far off the mark.
But wonder of wonders, whenever I take a look at my old wooden globe (prehistoric, if you ask me, since I can still find East Germany and none of Bangladesh seems to show up in London) and cast my eyes upon the messy smudge that reads “France”, a lot of contenders for PTF seem to sprout out of nowhere. We’ve had William Gallas already. I can think of half a dozen – Le Roi Platini, for example, who has already started losing the war in favour of financial fair play without even fielding his troops (or finding any for the matter). Then there’s Thierry Henry, enormous, glorious athlete who went to spoil it all with the handball against Ireland and ultimately sitting with Richard Dunne to console him (I would have personally decapitated Henry). Add fourscore mercenaries, a couple of rapists here and there, and, had you asked me twelve years ago I would have included Eric Cantona (I have much more respect for the man these days).
Without sounding overly racist (will footballxs sack me for this?) I have a natural aversion to many things French – save for things named Bakary Sagna or Gael Clichy or Arsenal. This brings me, finally, to today’s anti-hero: Raymond Domenech. How can I leave this prime cut of merd out of the PTF?
The eternal gaffer. The incommensurate loser. The only national manager (in Europe) to choose his squads according to astrology and the bollocks the stars tell him at night.
The only person who, straight after being fired by France for the abject performance in South Africa 2010 went to queue for employment benefits – while, please note, still actually on the FA’s payroll.
How he actually made it to manage France is in itself a mystery, his appointment widely considered as a surprise (and a pretty unwelcome one at that). A few months later his first snags began – with Robert Pires publicly denouncing his bad relationship with the coach and claiming he was being forced out. Domenech had then claimed he didn’t get on well with Scorpios. Just what France needed was an astrologer managing a football team, and maybe a witch doctor as physio.
France had somehow made it to World Cup 2006 in Germany, where Domenech would leave out Vikash Dhorasoo after the latter had directed a short film called Substitute. Other worthy exclusions included Ludovic Giuly, Philippe Mexes and Gregory Coupet, who chose to walk out of the squad when Domenech announced Barthez would be the first choice keeper. Oh, how they laughed at that. For some reason, Pascal Chimbonda (who?) made it to Germany – but that wasn’t astrology. Must have been a ouija board made in Taiwan.
After a sluggish start, France would then beat Togo in the final group match before mass murdering favourites like Spain, Portugal and Brazil and reaching the fateful final with Italy. In general, results aside, I was aghast at the football France played, a trait that would accompany Domenech until the very end of his coaching career; that they lost the final on penalties, or actually, made it to the final is another mystery. It must have been the stars. Pity the horoscope didn’t say anything about a balding talisman, a loutish Italian prick and a headbutt.
After dragging Zizou, Makelele and Thuram back to the national side for the World Cup, Domenech’s next spat involved Jose Mourinho and, once more, Makelele. The vitriolic Portuguese exchanged words with the idiotic Frenchman shortly after the now retired Chelsea midfielder found his name on Domenech’s squad list – prompting calls of “slavery” from the so-called Special One. Domenech would repeat a similar feat with various other managers, including the tetchier Wenger, over the use of Gallas (Domenech expected Wenger not to field Gallas to make sure he was fit to play with France. Only that, as Wenger rightly pointed out, Arsenal paid Gallas a salary and logically expect to play him at their discretion).
Come Euro 2008, France crashes out of Group C before you could say merd. Domenech goes on TV and proposes to his girlfriend during the press conference. The stars had been very clear that morning: “Today you will make an arse out of yourself twice, in front of everyone.”
World Cup 2010: France incredibly make it to the finals. By incredibly, I mean the collusion of stars including Sepp Blatter, Platini, Martin Hansson, Titi Henry and William Gallas. Hopes aren’t high either. Domenech’s selection methods came under scrutiny again for yet again the wrong reasons: a Canal+ helicopter circling above the training grounds caught the live pruning of 7 of the 30 players summoned for the pre-tournament camp. They were flown back to their homes via helicopter. But that wasn’t the real surprise, as Carrefour issued a set of souvenirs featuring the 23 players who would make the trip to South Africa only a day before the manager communicated the official list. Not sure if Carrefour’s marketing department were looking through their telescopes the night before. They would have surely seen a gigantic arse with one eyebrow.
Monsieur Domenech brings the French national team down with a loud clatter after only three matches. They fall prey to internal handbags, and a new as yet untested experiment called Stand Up To The Cock, err, I meant Coach. Anelka is sent home after heavily insulting Domenech during their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mexico. Between their second and third game (a 2-1 defeat against South Africa) Patrice Evra is involved in an altercation with team coach Robert Duverne, and like a good trade unionist he leads the team to their tourbus in an unprecedented strike. Domenech would suffer things no other national manager would face: the humiliation of Franck Ribery unexpectedly walking into a TV studio during his manager’s press conference and taking the mic with tears rolling down his cheeks. In addition to that, he was accused of favouritism towards some of the players, mostly Yoann Gourcuff. To this day, I still wonder what made Domenech choose Sebastian Valbuena and the incredible, wooden legged Sidney Govou.
Marco Santin of the famed Gialappa’s Band once paraphrased Raymond Domenech as faccia da cazzo (cockface). To say it suits him is an understatement. Even the stars will tell you Domenech is the most incompetent coach in history, and a lout.
written for footballxs.com