Laurent Blanc will meet the head of the French Football Federation in the coming days to determine whether he stays on as the coach of the French national team. If Blanc is cut free, it could start a managerial merry-go-round across Europe.
France's feeble exit from Euro 2012, at the hands of defending champions Spain, has prompted a bout of soul-searching back home.
Most of the blame for the team's disappointing showing has been placed at the feet of "badboy" players like Samir Nasri and Hatem Ben Arfa, who have been heavily criticised in the French press for their poor attitude.
Laurent Blanc, 46, on the other hand has managed to remain largely out of the spotlight and relatively free from recriminaton.
But at some point in the coming days, the French manager, who gained the nickname Le President during his playing days, will meet with Noël Le Graët, the head of the French Football Federation, to determine whether he will continue to lead Les Bleus.
Various clubs, including the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur, are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the talks.
Carrying the can
Blanc was given a clear objective before Euro 2012 - to take France through to the knock-out stages of a major tournament for the first time since the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
While he achieved that goal, some critics believe the French coach should take a share of the blame for what proved to be an underwhelming campaign that ended on a sour note.
The 2-0 win over Ukraine was France's only victory in four matches at Euro 2012. It was followed by a humiliating defeat to already-eliminated Sweden and a listless display against Spain.
Both displays cast doubt on Blanc's choice of tactics. More worryingly, they appeared to highlight his failure to control the players' egos and mould a group of talented individuals into a team.
If Blanc does have a desire to lead France into the next World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in September, then the strength of his hand has been somewhat undermined by his team’s poor preformance in Ukraine.
French sports daily L’Equipe suggested Blanc may have to accept a significant cull of his 23-man staff, or even a salary cut if he wishes to remain in the job.
Support in the right places
Blanc is still a widely respected figure in French football - not only for his exploits as a player, but also because he led the national team through a period of rehabiliation after the embarrassment of France’s South African campaign in 2010.
By taking France on a 22-match unbeaten run prior to Euro 2012, he helped restore faith in a team that had become a laughing stock after it went on strike during the last World Cup.
The French coach also appears to have some key support in the right places. Joël Muller, a member of the FFF’s executive committee, said Blanc had been “betrayed” by certain players, whom he described as "spoiled kids".
Star striker Karim Benzema has already called for Blanc to stay on. So has his predecessor Raymond Domenech, who knows all about managing France's restless players.
“To focus on Blanc’s team selections, his defensive tactics, his substitutions or his difficulty in managing the players’ egos is to mask the fact that the players are ultimately responsible,” Domenech told Ouest France newspaper on Tuesday.
Blanc himself has refused to be drawn on the question of his future with Les Bleus – fuelling speculation that he may be looking for a fresh start somewhere else.
The French coach has emerged as a possible contender for the manager's position at Tottenham Hotspur, left vacant by Harry Redknapp.
The outcome of his meeting with Noël Le Graët will also be watched closely by Didier Deschamps, who is set to cut his ties with Marseille this summer.
Deschamps, who played alongside Blanc in the French side that won the World and European Championships in 1998 and 2000, has been touted as a possible candidate to succeed Blanc, who could in turn head to Marseille.
Alternatively, both Blanc and Deschamps might end up fighting it out for the job at Tottenham, which has made eyes in the direction of both men in recent weeks.
On Wednesday France’s Le Monde newspaper said Blanc had held his first talks with the north London club before Euro 2012.
The acrimony surrounding France's exit from the competition suggests the French coach may have been tempted to resume those contacts in earnest.
Date created : 2012-06-27