Just seeing the classy Netherlands brush aside an advancing aged French 4 – 1 gave me some inspiration and, to be fair, much disappointment,
I believe I should be far happier to see my prediction pan out, seeing France will fall and tumble at the first hurdle at the European Championships.
It is a shame to see the 1998 World Champions, the 2000 European Champions and the 2006 World runners up collapse in such spectacular fashion, just like the 2002 World Cup.
What went wrong? First things first, Raymond Domenech should be given a very honoured boot from the hot seat as he rely on his laurels far too much.
Seeing the players of Claude Makelele perform like little children who is having their favourite toy taken away. He should have been sent off, he is too old and too naive to play, if not behave, like an international footballer. He should have stayed retired and let France groom there youngster.
Thuram with 143 caps should be the pride of France but he was exposed like Amy Winehouse on drugs. He should have retired gracefully two years ago; he has, and in some way still is, a master of the game, a quality defender, and an admiration to look up to for any young defender. The captain, the big man, he has been there from the start and he is in trouble to finish in the international wilderness and be remembered for his blunt blunders rather than his strides of glory.
Nicholas Anelka, now what shall I say. Garbage, pure garbage, if he touched the ball he gave it away. I do not think he actually tried to get in the game, let in know to play football. He may be the most expensive journeyman to ever live but that actually says more of how much a pathetic personality he actually is. Le Sulk, as he is known, does not deserve the credibility and stature he gets. He should be hounded and chucked on the international scrap heap as Chris Sutton was. How could anyone respect or even support a player like that? I will never know.
Frank Ribery sparked on the scene as the next best thing, he joined Bayern Munich and hoped that he will progress his career. Casted in to be the next Zidane, France's next best thing. Yeah, Michael Jackson is black. It was horrible watching him having so much influence amongst the French side. He ran over to take every corner kick, every free kick; it was not satisfying to watch. He made Joe Cole look like Paul Gascoigne. I feel for the French fans as people put Ribery in the same bracket as Zidane. Zizou was a pure genius, a wizardry mind and a god-like touch. Ribery is a luxury, if that. He did not benefit the team much and he was easily found out by the Dutch, average, defence.
When you have William Gallas is the heart of your defence you may have to worry. In all, he is an excellent (ish) defender with great awareness and decent in the tackle but this ego, this self-indulgence, the personality of his will hinder any team. Remember him threatening to score an own goal at Chelsea, remember his Britney Spear type hissy fit away to Birmingham where his mentality, more or less, lost Arsenal the Premiership crown. Mate start acting your age will you.
I cannot believe players like David Trezaguet, Mathieu Flamini, and Gabriel Clinchy were omitted. Flamini and Clinchy had a superb season for Arsenal and were probably two of the main highlights of the campaign.
Flamini, rightly, joined AC Milan as Arsenal failed to provide decent commitment or loyalty to the player. He may be missing Champions League football next season but at least he will be earning a nice packet.
Clinchy was immense, him and Patrick Evra should be scrapping out for that left back position but, against Romania, it was given to Abidal. Why? His reputation is not known. Barcary Sagna is another played whom France should be starting. He has come on leap and bounds.
Diarra was, arguably, one of the best performers in the second half of the season for Portsmouth. He should be deputising for the nuisance Makelele. He showed against teams of the calibre of Manchester United that he could perform. Diarra will be in that French team for years to come and he would have provided a decent platform for future success. Was France in this Championship to win it? The two defeats against Scotland suggest otherwise.
Thierry Henry showed his defining touch with a very ‘Henry’ goal. Good pace, good movement, similar result. He does not seem the ‘Arsenal’ Henry we all love. He seemed his confidence has been hot for six and he is not known as the lethal sharpshooter he was once was. Barcelona has crushed his high spirit and his utmost passion for the game. He needs to be loved, Arsenal gave him that, at Barcelona he is second rate.
Gomis looked like a young Darius Vassell when he came on, full of energy but nothing there. He is young and he, hopefully, will learn. However, if they are in this to win it surely they should have brought experience on, or even a proven craftsmen or goal scorer to change things, actually give them a chance.
Karim Benzema did not perform much against Romania but he will become a pin-up. He is young, Sir Alex Ferguson wants him, and he must be some good. Perhaps this is a nurture tournament rather than a nature one as the new breed of youngsters will have their chances to suffer defeat, to be given the run around by the Netherlands.
I can see one thing; France managed to get to the 2006 World Cup final because of one man. Now that man has vanished, leaving a mark on only Materazzi’s chest. Who will be brave enough to step up? The next generation awaits.