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D-Day nears for France´s Domenech

SoccerNews in Ligue 1, World Cup 2 Jul 2008

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Raymond Domenech's fate as France manager following his team's calamitous showing at Euro 2008 will be determined on Thursday at a high level meeting of his employers, the French Football Federation.

Domenech has a contract which runs until the 2010 World Cup but his position has come under fire after France tumbled out of the European championships at the first hurdle with just one point and one goal.

Speculation in the French press points to the 56-year-old being granted a temporary reprieve but if his battered team's fortunes don't improve rapidly for the World Cup qualifiers then the axe will fall.

France 1998 World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps heads the list of possible candidates with Zinedine Zidane for one giving his stamp of approval to the former Monaco and Juventus coach.

Opinion is divided on whether Domenech should be kept on.

He has heavyweight support from FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, but has been identified as 'public enemy number one' by the fans and sections of the French media.

Escalettes, interviewed before Italy delivered the fatal blow to France's Euro 2008 campaign in Zurich last month, said: “I am not a disloyal man, I will not utter those words 'Raymond, resign'.

“I am for him staying till 2010.

“But it is also true that other things may come into play which will have to be taken into consideration.”

Former manager Aime Jacquet, who led France to their world title, spoke out in favour of holding on to the existing boss, saying: “The coach is always the one who is the most exposed. The decision-makers will decide but I would leave Raymond Domenech.

“I think when you are preparing a World Cup you need four years and we have a good group in place. It would be a shame if Raymond Domenech, with the set-up he has put together, couldn't stay on through to the World Cup.”

Jacquet's view was supported by players like Franck Ribery, Patrick Vieira, and UEFA boss Michel Platini.

Those in favour of a change of skipper will point to Italy as a precedent.

Back in 2006 the Azzurri beat France to become champions of the world.

Two years on, after Italy's Euro quarter-final loss to subsequent champions Spain, coach Roberto Donadoni was made to pay the price for not guiding the team to the last four.

Aside from the bare results the France team under Domenech's watch has come under attack for its aloofness, internal divisions and its seemingly unworkable mix of old legs like Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele with inexperienced new faces like Karim Benzema.

Domenech hardly helped win over public opinion either when in an interview seconds after his team were dumped out of the competition by Italy he proposed live on television to his girlfriend, Estelle Denis.

The committee deciding Domenech's future is comprised of 21 members and it is not known whether his fate will be decided by an informal discussion, a secret ballot or a show of hands.

The anti-Domenech brigade want a secret ballot, but it's uncertain if they carry enough weight to get it.

One thing is certain – if Domenech does hold onto his post his margin for error will be negligible, with one friendly, against Sweden on August 20, before the serious business of qualifying for the World Cup begins in September.

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