Domenech scathing about French players in new book

November 19, 2012

Former French national team coach Raymond Domenech was so angry with some players on his 2010 World Cup team that he called them ''a bunch of imbeciles.''

Domenech's book, ''Tout Seul (All Alone),'' which will be published Tuesday, included critical comments about Thierry Henry, Franck Ribery and Nicolas Anelka.

The French team went on strike at a training session after Anelka had been sent home for insulting Domenech during halftime break of France's second game, a 2-0 defeat to Mexico. Domenech's six-year tenure as coach ended after Les Bleus failed to advance to the second round and led to his dismissal as a member of the French Football Federation.

''I couldn't bear to hear everyone giving their opinion on everything,'' Domenech wrote. ''I just wanted to be sick, to cry, to leave.''


On the day of the strike, hundreds of people from the town of Knysna gave the French players a rousing reception when they stepped off the team bus. After quickly shaking hands and signing autographs, players all returned to their bus.

''The France team had just crucified itself, in public, live on television,'' Domenech wrote. ''Maybe the players realized it, maybe they didn't. Anyway, it was too late. The infernal machine had started up and was dragging all of Les Bleus to the abyss.''

Domemech felt powerless to regain any control of his squad. Even though France still had one match left to play, against host South Africa, Domenech was stunned when players chose to skip massage and other treatments.

''I'm out of here. I couldn't give a damn about this bunch of imbeciles,'' he says in his book, written largely in diary form.

''I have no energy left. I don't like them anymore. I've had enough of their tantrums,'' Domenech wrote before the loss to Mexico. ''This team is completely incapable of transcending itself, and I'm certainly to blame for something. I got it all wrong. I feel humiliated to have got it so wrong.''

Domenech confirmed that Anelka insulted him with a profanity expletive when he reproached him for not working hard enough in the first half against Mexico, and he felt aggrieved that no other players backed him until then-captain Patrice Evra tried to calm the situation.

''He insulted me at halftime of the Mexico match when I hadn't stopped fighting on his behalf. ... He killed the squad,'' Domenech said. ''After the match, he was laughing along with (defender William) Gallas. What insensibility. Were they happy to lose?''

Domenech described Anelka as ''an enigma'' who ''does nothing for others.''

When details of Anelka's rant were published on the front page of sports daily L'Equipe, Evra suspected Henry had leaked the information to media. But Henry blamed him, Domenech said.

''Evra thought he was the mole in the dressing room but then he (Henry) managed to turn everyone around, he even managed to suggest that I might be the mole,'' said Domenech, who was highly critical of Henry's attitude throughout the tournament.

He felt angry when Henry - who had hardly played for Barcelona that season - reproached him for not being picked.

''He's played one whole match all year (and) shouldn't be here; he's sulking and not taking his responsibilities,'' Domenech wrote.

Domenech said only striker Djibril Cisse, who was in tears, and winger Sidney Govou showed any remorse for the strike. Domenech said he and the players were shocked to learn Henry had arranged a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy upon his return to Paris.

''We asked ourselves if we weren't dreaming,'' Domenech said.

Domenech wrote he is convinced Ribery despised playmaker Yoann Gourcuff - who was being hailed as the new Zinedine Zidane.

''Ribery doesn't like Gourcuff, that's for sure. Before the Uruguay match, I told Gourcuff: `You have the keys to the match, it's down to you,''' Domenech says. ''The worst thing was Franck Ribery's look. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but in his eyes I saw hatred, contempt or jealousy.

''He's the same as Anelka and Henry, everything revolves around their belly buttons. When things go wrong, they're the first to jump ship. A senior player warned me about (Ribery) in 2008; and me, I gave him the keys to (the team). What a moron I am.''

Evra received a modicum of praise for his efforts in trying to unite the squad, but Domenech will always reproach him for not calling off the strike. Afterward, the coach found solace in the hotel bar.

''I went to bed after a few beers,'' Domenech said. ''Well, a few liters.''