Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBlanc should return to the club scene after the Euros - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Blanc should return to the club scene after the Euros - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Blanc should return to the club scene after the Euros

France is very often pointed at for being late at everything, especially by the English. Only on this occasion, our neighbours up north can’t mock us as they have the same problem: the lack of quality managers being of the nationality of their own country.

If England did have a good manager they probably would have enthrusted him with the reigns of the national team. Yet the only English manager to come out of various international tournaments with some kind of pride and self-respect remains Glen Hoddle back in 1998 with the World Cup being played… in France. The debate needs to be had whether quality managers should choose country over club. What would you do if you were in Harry Redknapp’s shoes? Quit your job at Tottenham Hotspur and the prospect of Champions’ League football, leaving the working environment of managing day-to-day affairs of a football club or put your feet up for most days of the calendar year and only produce results once every few months in friendlies and qualifiers (most of them against minnows who do not play football professionnally) and with a decent amount of pressure once every two years? It is arguable that you may get paid more for less work so accepting the role depends if you’re a workaholic or not. Not saying Messrs Löw, Del Bosque or Prandelli are lazy people but I don’t think they’re complaning about the workload.

However, unlike the three aforementioned managers, one manager is currently managing a footballing powerhouse but lacks something the fantastic trio have in abundance: experience. At 46 years old, what has Blanc done to warrant the parachute payments as France’s head coach? Well not that much. His stint at Bordeaux was at first a success. In his first season Bordeaux finished 2nd with a very respectable points tally of 75, just 4 points off Lyon (Lyon’s last league title to date) and he topped that off in 2008/09 by winning the league. Then came trouble. With national supremacy, come Champions’ League. With Champions’ League come 2 games per week. And pressure. And big clubs buying your best players (ask Lille). After winning the league, French clubs very rarely deliver in Europe and in the league (Lyon being the exception). Bordeaux logically fell out of the European spots as they finished 6th on 64 points. You could argue that the quality of the managers hasn’t been up to standard since as Bordeaux were mostly mid-table last season and will probably not reach dizzy heights this term either. Blanc in truth left Bordeaux in one gigantic mess. Most players were sold and the ones who stayed were still living in Champions’ League dreamland. One season was not enough to change the mentality at the club. Jean Tigana had his daughter threatened after his side lost at home to Sochaux in the beginning of May 0-4. The 7th place finish is just the tree covering up the forest. The arrival last summer of highly rated Francis Gillot only confirmed the pessimistic impression we had of the place: Gillot took 6 months to get Bordeaux to play football (in late October, Bordeaux were in the relegation zone, their latest result however is a very promising 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes in a game where they probably deserved the 3 points more than their hosts).

Was it really a good idea for Blanc to leave Bordeaux to manage a national team? Did he already feel that 3 seasons was enough experience to go into international management? You’d be forgiven to think that Blanc saw the disaster at Bordeaux come to shape and jumped ship before it started sinking. The problem is that since then, things haven’t been all rosy in the French camp. Last year, a quota scandal rocked the footballing world (it was basically about restricting non-white french players to develop so that fewer could make it to the national squad) which didn’t put Blanc in the best of lights while results in the qualifiers weren’t all that great. Despite handsomely winning friendlies in London and Bremen, France did lose at home to Belarus 0-1 and needed a last-minute penalty to salvage a draw at home to Bosnia.

Blanc’s contract runs out in the summer. It’s not that the FFF (French FA) don’t want him to stay (I can’t see them having a replacement lined up already) but that they’re afraid Blanc turns into another Domenech and that they’ll be unable to afford his sacking. Blanc is hence free to do whatever he likes after his 2-week trip in Eastern Europe (where he states that getting out of a group featuring England, Sweden and Ukraine would be deemed miraculous) and speculation is mounting about an impending offer of Chelsea who recently sacked their own inexperienced manager who worked wonders with Portugal’s powerhouse Porto. It is ironic that after going for the vastly experienced Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea seemed to have switched to the bright youth of our time for now.

Chelsea offer notwithstanding, Blanc has a decision to make: stay in his comfort zone as France’s coahc or further his career by getting back into club management. But does Blanc prefer the casualness of managing France with a few scandals thrown in for good measure (yes, we’ve got our own) or does he want to manage a big club, which would put him under a considerable amount of pressure if things don’t go right? Only he knows the answer but he is one of the rare French educators for who a trip to a big league could put on the quality managers map.

Philip Bargiel

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