Wedding and sack loom for Domenech

MARRIAGE may be in the offing for Raymond Domenech, but his divorce from France’s national team should be finalised in the coming weeks after their abject showing at Euro 2008.

One would have thought the 56-year-old would be in the depths of despair after seeing Les Bleus defeated 2-0 by arch-rivals Italy to finish bottom of Group C with just one point and one goal to their name.

But he turned up to his post-match press conference on Tuesday night with a smile on his face, as if he was relieved that a mass of pressure had been lifted from his shoulders. Moments earlier, he had proposed to his girlfriend Estelle Denis live on national television. At the press conference he enthused about the wonderful future which lay ahead for the French team.

If it was a ploy to keep the wolves from the door, it was misguided.

Yesterday, the French Football Federation announced that a decision on Domenech’s future would be made on July 3, after a thorough review of the European Championships and his work over the last four years.

He is expected to be given the axe, joining a number of veteran players – such as Lilian Thuram, Claude Makelele and Willy Sagnol – on the international scrapheap.

Thuram and Makelele quit the national team, again, after the defeat to Italy, and Sagnol is set to follow suit shortly.

Domenech admitted he made mistakes prior to and during the Euros but he was positively gushing about his players’ display against Italy and the team’s future.

“Okay, this is why I am positive,” said the husband-to-be.

“I loved this match, I saw they were trying and weren’t giving up. At some points, I loved them.

“I will say again, I think this team has a future with many talented players. In a competition, some lose, some win.

“But the beauty of sport allows losers to lose while showing something of themselves.

“It is in such difficult moments where you find out who your friends are.

“When it’s really tough, I like to see what is left, and I see we have a future and I want to build on that.”

When asked what he would change if he could start the Euros all over again, Domenech insisted his main gripe was the lack of preparation time he had been afforded with his squad prior to the start of the tournament.

But he also said the outlook he took into the competition may have been wrong.

“I ask myself one question, just one,” he said.

“I should have continued with what I was saying six or seven months ago, when I said the Euros should be useful to a young generation in view of the 2010 World Cup, as Aime Jacquet did in 1996.

“We knew it would not be easy, and gathering experience would have been interesting for our new generation.

“This team has a future and we should have removed the pressure of getting results off the players.”

Whatever was at the root of France’s ills at the Euros, Domenech, who guided Les Bleus to the World Cup final against all the odds two years ago, looks likely to be on his way out.

When asked why he had chosen such an odd time to propose to his girlfriend on television station M6, the channel for whom Denis works, Domenech admitted emotions had got the better of him and that sometimes “you have to tell people you love them”.

Unfortunately, such emotion may not extend to the FFF when they announce at the start of next month the results of their analysis into France’s failings at the Euros.

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