Domenech retains job as coach of France

July 3, 2008

Raymond Domenech was on Thursday retained as France coach despite French football supremo Jean-Pierre Escalettes admitting Les Bleus' Euro 2008 campaign had been 'a resounding failure'.

Domenech was summoned to appear before the French Football Federation's (FFF) Federal Council in Paris on Thursday to explain the team's group stage exit from the tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

And he clearly did a good job in convincing the panel as 18 of the 19 men who voted backed the 56-year-old to lead the team in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers which get under way in September.

On Euro 2008, FFF president Escalettes said: 'It was a resounding failure, not very glorious.

'It was bad on the sporting side and, maybe worse, it portrayed a terrible image of the French national team.'

He revealed Domenech had admitted to making 'a series of errors' while Escalettes spoke of 'too much personal communication at disastrous moments' and 'a lack of transparency' which was like 'rubbing salt into the wound.'

He rationalised his decision to keep Domenech on, however, by insisting: 'Domenech's record is not that bad as coach. It is not catastrophic.

'He qualified us for successive major competitions (the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships). I did not want emotion and passion to get the better of reason.

'Raymond has asked for the support of the Federation and that the president is more involved.

'There is only one mission; on the pitch and nothing but the pitch. He is going to talk about the French team and not the condition of his soul.'

Immediately in the wake of France's poor showing at Euro 2008 it was widely touted that Domenech's four-year tenure would be brought to an end within days.

A supremely talented squad crashed out following defeats at the hands of Holland and Italy and a goalless draw with Romania, scoring just once in the process.

The controversial coach was already under immense pressure due to his persistence on making squad selections based on astrology, and had only been saved from the axe in 2006 by a sudden change in fortunes during the World Cup which saw them advance all the way to the final, where they were beaten on penalties by Italy.

It could be that the support Domenech has received from members of his squad and influential figures such as Michel Platini saved him this time.

But for every high-brow supporter Domenech had a critic.

Former France striker Christophe Dugarry has been damning in his assessment of the coach's abilities, as have fellow former internationals Eric Cantona, Marcel Desailly and Christian Karembeu.

Domenech's critics had called for him to be replaced by France's World Cup-winning captain from 1998, Didier Deschamps, who is currently out of work following spells at Monaco and Juventus.

But the FFF's decision means he is now free to lead Les Bleus in their World Cup qualifiers against Austria on September 6, Serbia on September 10, and Euro 2008 rivals Romania on October 11.

Escalettes confirmed no new contract had been agreed between the two parties.

'We have not asked him to sign a contract. It is a moral contract.'

He added though: 'Everyone is fully aware the French team must evolve. We will see where things are in mid-October.'

Patrick Vieira and Willy Sagnol were vocal supporters of Domenech and Escalettes admitted that had played a part in the FFF's thinking.

'That carried some weight,' he said.

'If it was just Vieira and Sagnol that would have been worrying but there was also (Franck) Ribery, (Karim) Benzema and (Hatem) Ben Arfa and that proves something.

'Our responsibility is to analyse, to listen, to decide and to assume.

'That is what I have done, that's what the Federation has done. Keeping Domenech in his position is a reasonable decision, carefully thought out and freely discussed.

'It is also a form of gamble, as it is each time you name a manager or coach.

'What happens on the pitch will finally validate or invalidate our decision.'