Dear Fourth Estate of France,
You deserve as much blame as the English media does, for hyping your national team beyond the limits of reasonable imagination. So, while you maliciously pound on Raymond Domenech, who reminds me of the hapless lawyer Ted in the sitcom Scrubs, you would do well to consider your own contribution to the despicable run of results your team has churned out with unfailing consistency.
Your team is not even a shadow of the golden generation, despite your attempts to paint it as one seeking to fill the shoes of their illustrious predecessors. Here’s a wake-up call for you:
– Franck Ribery is not, despite what you think, the next Zidane and will never be. He is a mediocre player capable of moments of occasional brilliance. The only way he’ll ever make the headlines is courtesy his shenanigans, and not a picture of him holding aloft a trophy. Building the team around his psyche has failed as a media ploy, and a team strategy. If Zidane ever referred to him as a shining jewel or whatever, it’s called “being nice”.
– Your crowning of Yoann Gourcuff as the latest contender to take up the mantle of national talisman, isn’t going to cut it either. The only similarity he’ll ever have with Zidane is the fact they happen to play in the same position.
In search of the next Zizou..
– Hugo Lloris is no great shakes either. His Ligue 1 exploits were fashioned in the face of sub-standard attacking threats, and his World Cup experiences have convinced me he’ll probably see out the remainder of his career in France. Wake up and smell the coffee, he isn’t a Yashin, a Kahn or even an Enyeama.
– In a midfield once ruled by Vieira and Zidane, you now have Toulalan and Diaby moonlighting. Enough said.
– What more did you expect from a team, that only has “stars” on the left. Evra, Abidal, Ribery and Malouda all prefer the left flank. And what about the right? Did you really think your team stood a chance with half-a-squad? Was it really sensible on your part to drum up expectations on a team, whose only attacking threats on the right are Bacary Sagna and Toulalan (if he loses his way)? The FIFA ranking of 9, that you called a national catastrophe, should’ve been seen for what it really was – Christmas coming early!
– My biggest grouse with you is your hailing of the French national team as the symbol of multicultural ethos. That’s great, and it keeps the crazies quiet, as long as the team is winning. Have you paused to consider what the effects on integration might be, when the team performs this badly at a major tournament? The whispers that the team, owing to the ethnic make-up of most of its stars, is ‘not really French’ will only get louder. The French team won in 1998, when they were truly color-blind. They went on to the field seeking to play football, and not to prove a point about racial integration.
– Stop applying the Golden Generation logic to every squad you fashion. There will never be another Zidane, or a Blanc , or a Vieira or a Desailly. You will have to fashion new stars, but most importantly you will have to whip national sentiment down a more constructive avenue – building a team.
A former admirer of the French team