Monday, November 29, 1999

France turn to charismatic Blanc

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France are poised to name former World Cup winner Laurent Blanc as the man to take over from unpopular coach Raymond Domenech after the World Cup.Blanc told his club Girondins Bordeaux on Sunday he wanted to leave with one year remaining on his contract in order to take the reins of the national team."Girondins Bordeaux have been informed by Laurent Blanc that he wanted to answer favourably to the French federation (FFF)'s approaches to become the France coach," Bordeaux said in a statement."Girondins Bordeaux expect to hear from the FFF on the question of the compensation linked to the release of their coach."Blanc, 44, became Bordeaux coach three years ago, leading them to a Ligue 1 and League Cup double least season.A World Cup winner with France in 1998 although he missed the final through suspension, Blanc, who played for clubs including Barcelona, Olympique Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United, is nicknamed "the President" for his leadership skills.The French federation is expected to officially unveil Domenech's successor on Thursday."I am pleased. The past, the personality, the charisma of Laurent Blanc correspond to the profile the FFF is looking for to strengthen the ambitions of the France team after the World Cup in South Africa," FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes said in a statement.GOOD CHOICE"In the coming hours, the FFF will make contact with the parties involved to define the conditions of a deal allowing Laurent Blanc to take the reins of the France team next season."Domenech will lead the French team to the World Cup in South Africa next month and former sweeper Blanc will take over after the tournament with the task of trying to qualify Les Bleus for the Euro 2012 finals.Blanc, who also won Euro 2000 with France and earned 97 international caps, is regarded as a pragmatic coach who also likes to his teams to play with attacking flair."He has a lot of experience at the highest level, he played in great clubs," said Bordeaux midfielder Alou Diarra.Former team mate Didier Deschamps, now Olympique Marseille coach, said last week Blanc was a good choice for the job."It's very good, it's a very good choice," he said.Bordeaux finished top of Champions League Group A this season ahead of Bayern Munich and Juventus before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by domestic rivals Olympique Lyon.They will not play in Europe next season after finishing sixth in the league.Blanc applied for the France post in 2004. At that time, he had no coaching experience and Domenech got the job.Domenech led France to the World Cup final in 2006, losing on penalties to Italy, but Les Bleus crashed out in the first round of Euro 2008.He has been widely criticised in France by personalities including former French Open champion Yannick Noah and sports junior minister Rama Yade.(Writing by Julien Pretot, Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email
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