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‘Les Miserables’

Les Blues, Les Miserables. If you think England have got it bad, we can at least look over at an old adversary, France, and feel slightly better.

Mutiny, factions, sulking, squabbling, pinching, pulling hair, etcetera etcetera, France have imploded. The signs were evident a long time ago. From the ice age to the dole age (or, from Euro 2008 failure, to a stuttering World Cup qualification) France have been steadily crumbling. Hence, many pundits worldwide felt they would be the ‘surprise’ flop of the tournament, and fans in France were certainly not bubbling over with confidence.

Domenech has been the focus for much of this discontent. We’d all heard the tales about his ‘lunacy’, and seen him sporadically, but such open insurgence in French camp was still a slight surprise. Indeed, Domenech is a largely a figure of frustration and ridicule in France. Hence his authority has long been undermined, offering fuel for further insubordination from his squad and the perpetuation of the problem.

Indeed, this World Cup has already seen disputes, factions, players ostensibly attempting to dictate tactics and selection, poor performances on the pitch (without even a solitary goal), refusing to train off it, and Anelka sent home for indiscipline. Domenech subsequently read out the players’ statement to the media – directed at the French Football Federation and illustrating displeasure that the issue had been leaked and the squad had apparently not been protected – as the dirty laundry continued to stack up publicly.

And it’s our Premier League players who have been heavily involved. You could, if you want to irk people, facetiously blame it on the Arsenal contingent – a clique – and those who have passed through the Arsenal corridors; e.g. Henry, Anelka, Sagna, Diaby and Gallas. Yup, it’s all Arsenal’s doing, socialising them in the way of moaning and whinging, or maybe it’s even a Wenger masterminded conspiracy. Indeed, many of the proponents have Arsenal connections, but this is simply because Wenger has consistently picked-out so many of his fellow countrymen, meaning those involved were always likely to contain a strong proportion of Arsenal blood. Correlation here is weak. Moreover, Evra, Malouda and Ribery have also been heavily involved.

Is it player power gone mad; overestimating their role, getting overly conceited and attempting to overthrow a ‘dictatorship’? There’s not really any need to get sociological or pinpoint the ‘collective character’, or any of that rhubarb, since this gets very indiscriminate and xenophobic. Perhaps it’s as simple as the whole squad just thinking Raymond is ‘a bit of a tit’. Who knows? What could actually be viable, and a view espoused by some with links to the French camp, is the perennial old against young conflict; the remaining old guard from the trophy-laden glory days in contention with the new kids on the block, both with conflicting ideas and attitudes.

Whatever the causes, it’ll be interesting to see how they shape up against South Africa in their final group fixture. Laurent Blanc is set to take over after the World Cup but you’d think the French players would strive for pride no matter what their views of management or tactics. Anyway, at least it makes England’s woes seem a little more endurable.

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Article title: ‘Les Miserables’

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