Domenech: I was nearly Ireland boss

FORMER French manager Raymond Domenech has claimed he was almost became Republic of Ireland manager in 2003.

Domenech had a controversial six-year spell in charge of the France national team between 2004 and 2010 but has told a French magazine that a year earlier he was a candidate to become Mick McCarthy’s successor.

“Before being appointed French boss, I was on the shortlist for the Irish job. I would have loved it if it had happened. In the end, they appointed an Irishman (Brian Kerr),” Domenech said.

Domenech visited Dublin earlier this year to watch the Six Nations clash between Ireland and his native France and says he is a big fan of the Irish.

“I adore the Irish and their spirit and I was very nicely welcomed (to Dublin).

“I remember when the French team won over there in 2005. That defeat knocked them out of the World Cup. I had to go over to do the post-match press and, in order to get to the press zone, I had to walk in front of all the defeated Irish fans in the stands. But they were all slapping me on the back and saying ‘well played, congratulations!’

“I couldn’t have had that happen to me in any other stadium in the world.”

Asked if he was teased about that infamous Thierry Henry handball, Domenech replied: “No. That’s the rugby man spirit! You go head to head, hard, during a match but, afterwards, you go and have a drink together. For me, that’s the very symbol of sport.”

Meanwhile Rio Ferdinand is fuming that Manchester United are not the automatic choice to retain the Premier League title.

Rather than reflect on a fourth championship in five years, and a record 19th overall that allowed them to eclipse Liverpool as England’s most successful team, much of the summer debate around United has centred on that Champions League final failure against Barcelona.

Alex Ferguson’s insistence that he currently has no interest in acquiring Wesley Sneijder will merely fuel a sense of weakness.

Ferdinand is adamant the negativity is due to a desire to see United’s era of dominance come to an end. And he doesn’t like it.

“It is ridiculous. It makes me laugh,” the England defender said. “We have won the league four times out of five.

“Half of it is that people want someone else to win it.

“Before I came here, Manchester United used to win the league and I would think it would be nice from a fans’ point of view to see someone else putting up a challenge.

“Your heart rules your head sometimes. Not that it bothers me.”

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