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French press blame federation boss for Blanc’s departure

Latest update : 01/07/2012

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Article text by News Wires

France’s Sunday papers mostly blamed the departure of France coach Laurent Blanc (pictured) on Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation, with one daily saying he never really supported Blanc.

AFP - French football supremo Noel Le Graet will not enjoy the Sunday newspapers, as he was roundly blamed for the departure of popular coach and French football great Laurent Blanc.

Blanc, a World Cup winner and European champion as a player, decided not to agree to a new contract on Saturday, after rejecting the new terms offered by Le Graet.

The 46-year-old former Bordeaux coach, who replaced Raymond Domenech after a disastrous 2010 World Cup debacle, had earned the right to a new deal by achieving the minimum required at Euro 2012 in reaching the quarter-finals.

Le Parisien did not mince its words, headlining its article: "Hopeless!"

"The French football team cannot help itself. In crisis for the past four years, not only in sporting terms but also its image, which it lets slide wherever it lands, it has sunk even lower after the spectacular departure of Laurent Blanc," the paper said.

The daily added that the effects of the six-year tenure Domenech were still being felt in French football and reminded readers of Le Graet's support for the largely unloved handler.

"Stained by the six years of Raymond Domenech's reign (a coach who always had the support of Le Graet) and by a federal system almost on its last breath, the French team does not have one united voice to rally round it," it added.

French football fans reading the tabloid with hopes of an upbeat assessment of the future were to be disappointed.

"The French team has become demoralising, hopeless, firstly because of the mistakes that have been made and secondly by the environment surrounding it which constantly keeps forcing its head under water.

"'Les Bleus' are essentially sick," it added.

Blanc's friend and fellow World Cup and Euro winner Christophe Dugarry, now a respected pundit, assessed that the situation 'was a complete mess" but he was not surprised because the two men were singing from different hymn sheets.

"Laurent is neither a manipulator nor a politician, he loves the sport and the goings on on the pitch. He needed support but Monsieur Le Graet's preference was to play politics in order that he be re-elected as president (in December)," he said.

Dugarry questioned whether Le Graet, who despite his support for Domenech was elected after the South Africa catastrophe in 2010, had got the result he was looking for.

"There are two reasons which would have precipitated his (Blanc) departure. If the target set for the Euro hadn't been achieved then he would have resigned of his own volition.

"The second is that those above him did not show total confidence in him and that is obviously what happened."

Le Journal du Dimanche, meanwhile, claimed Le Graet deliberately attached conditions to the new contract that he knew Blanc would not accept.

But now he had got what he wanted -- replace Blanc -- he had to take responsibility for his actions.

"Even if his (Blanc) credit had been eroded during a Euro where some egos had got ahead of the squad's needs and brought into question his authority, Blanc had more supporters than detractors," the weekly said.

"The president had simply saluted 'the work carried out' by Blanc since 2010 in a statement which was less enthusiastic than his support for his friend Raymond Domenech after the Euro 2008 fiasco."

In Euro 2008, France failed to get past the group stage, against a backdrop of dressing room discord and ridicule, when Domenech replied to a question about the reasons for the failure by proposing to his girlfriend.