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France suspend 23-man World Cup squad

New French coach Laurent Blanc has sensationally suspended each member of France’s disastrous World Cup campaign ahead of a friendly with Norway next month.

Blanc, who will take charge for the first time against Norway in Oslo on 11th August, has asked the French Football Federation to suspend the players and the FFF have accepted the proposal. The move is likely to ensure the incoming coach receives praise from the media and political class who fumed after Raymond Domenech presided over a shambolic World Cup campaign.

The real question is whether Blanc has done this to take away the spotlight from the players and to ensure he commands respect as an incoming coach, or whether this is a genuine attempt by him to say that what happened was wrong and that each player must now prove himself again with his work on the football pitch.

Blanc culls 23-man World Cup squad

France cannot do without the calibre of player Blanc will exclude from the upcoming friendly. Thierry Henry has announced his international retirement already and of the remaining 22 players there ar certainly some who should be culled to make way for fresh blood and new attitudes. The likes of William Gallas is seen as a troublemaker and a player who demands that football squads be built on the model of senior players commanding respect and junior players being seen and not heard. Having spectacularly fallen out with teammates at Arsenal, Gallas is believed to have preferred passing to certain players on the French team due to his difficulties with teammates.

Nicolas Anelka’s role in World Cup 2010 cannot be ignored by Blanc either. Anelka announced his international retirement after he was sent home from South Africa by Raymond Domenech. Blanc as an incoming coach could well choose to persuade him to change his mind, and he may not have difficulty doing so, however Anelka’s role must now be in the past, as young players coming in cannot see that a player can disrespect a coach so blatantly and get away with it.

Question marks will also be raised about Patrice Evra’s future involvement. Evra, named as captain for the tournament was among those who instigated the squad’s refusal to train. At 29-years of age he has one World Cup left in him, but cannot be considered as captain surely, and being stripped of the armband would make him an unsettled player in the squad.  With Gael Clichy lying in the wings Evra’s future role could be in jeopardy.

Players like Sidney Govou and Eric Abidal will also have loyalty to their former colleagues who will now be retired and could be considered in any cull. Between them they have 100 caps and have had their time in the sun – time to replace them with younger players ho are more likely to be motivated and ready to restore France to a team, rather than a squad of individuals.

The next question surrounds the future of Messrs Benzema and Ribery. The pair, charged with soliciting an under-age prostitute this week, are talented members of the squad and young enough to warrant a chance after World Cup 2010. Benzema is struggling in football terms, barely getting a look-in for Real Madrid last year, and wasn’t even part of the mutiny in South Africa. However Laurent Blanc must now decide on an option whereby if a player steps out of line in his private life to an extent that he disgraces himself on it, he is not considered. England claim to have such an agreement but in reality it is not instigated.

France need to restore pride in the jersey. Over the coming months Blanc will discover who really wants to put on the blue shirt again, and who should be left aside. Commentators and fans alike will now look forward to Blanc releasing his squad for the match against Norway on Thursday August 5 at 11.30am.

Categories: Football, France, Soccer
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