Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Laurent Blanc, right, greets Didier Deschamps before a Marseille v Bordeaux friendly in June.
Laurent Blanc, right, greets Didier Deschamps before a Marseille v Bordeaux friendly in June.

Old allies writing a new script

Frank Leboeuf is better placed than most observers to consider the coaching credentials of former colleagues Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps.

As a member of the glorious French generation that won the World Cup in 1998 and added the European Championship two years later, Frank Leboeuf is better placed than most observers to consider the coaching credentials of former colleagues Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps. Blanc is regarded as one of the most promising new managers in Europe after leading Bordeaux to the French league title last May in only his second season in charge, while Deschamps guided Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final and Juventus to the 2007 Serie B title before taking over at Marseille three months ago.

Leboeuf, now working as an actor and script writer in Los Angeles, follows the fortunes of his one-time teammates from his American base - and is not surprised to see they are doing so well. "If there were two guys from that squad you'd have said would go on to be managers, it was Blanc and Deschamps," Leboeuf told The National. "They were leaders on and off the field. It was their destiny to go down that route.

"They didn't make speeches in the dressing room; we had our manager, Aime Jacquet, to do that. They spoke to players on an individual basis and always found the right words to say. "Laurent was a calm, reassuring presence. Didier was captain, so he talked a bit more. Their styles were different but they were important figures." Blanc's Bordeaux drew 1-1 at Juventus in their opening Champions League Group A game a fortnight ago, putting the side in an excellent position before their home fixture against Israeli opponents Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight.

Marseille face a trickier task to get out of Group C as they lost their opening fixture 2-1 at home to AC Milan and face Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu tonight in one of the week's most attractive fixtures. Things are going better for Bordeaux in the domestic competition, too - they maintained their two-point lead at the top of the French league thanks to a 1-0 win over Rennes whereas Marseille lost 3-2 at Valenciennes at the weekend - but Leboeuf believes Deschamps is the right man for the challenging Marseille post.

"It's the perfect time for him to be at Marseille because they didn't win the championship last season. If they had, it would be harder, because he'd have to win it again. "The Marseille fans are always impatient - I know, because I'm from that part of France - but that's understandable right now because Marseille haven't won the league for 17 years. "Didier's already a club legend because he was captain when Marseille won the Champions League in 1993. If he wins the league as a manager, he'll be a legend all over again."

Leboeuf believes that Blanc and Deschamps' contrasting overseas experiences as players have influenced their managerial styles. "Didier is more Italian because he played for Juventus for five years. "He found it difficult to settle down at Chelsea [1999-2000] because the football was so different, whereas Laurent adapted well to English football when he joined Manchester United. "Don't forget, Laurent was a midfield player before becoming a sweeper. When he played for Napoli early in his career [1991-92], the coach didn't understand why he crossed the half-way line. He was better suited to the attacking style of the English game. You can see that in his teams now - he likes them to go forward and play total football."

Blanc and Deschamps are the only members of France's most decorated generation to have tried their hand at management. Would Leboeuf ever be tempted to trade in his Los Angeles lifestyle to have a go himself? "It's not a goal for me, but I'd love to manage Chelsea one day. I'm in the movie industry right now, but Chelsea is in my heart. I was one of the 22 guys that won the World Cup, but Chelsea made me what I was as a player. I follow every game they play from the States and I'll never forget my time there.

"Even if Roman Abramovich left, and they lost all their money and ended up relegated, I'd still follow them because they're my club." jeastham@thenational.ae Bordeaux v Maccabi Haifa, Aljazeera Sport + 8, Real Madrid v Marseille, Aljazeera Sport + 5, both KO 10.45pm

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Floyd Mayweather lands punches on trainer Nate Jones on Tuesday at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification bout with Marcos Maidana. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Floyd Mayweather trains for Maidana fight

Images from earlier in the week as Floyd Mayweather trained at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification fight with Marcos Maidana.

 UAE rugby player Daniel Minks pushes against a Singapore tackler during Wednesday night’s Asian Five Nations Test. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

UAE national rugby team needs to look within to raise standards

While domestic clubs like Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins find regional success, the UAE national side isn't benefitting from the talent pool in the country, writes Paul Radley.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Suresh Raina has scored 84 runs in three IPL matches so far this season for Chennai Super Kings. Ravindranatah K / The National

Suresh Raina has always been brightest in Chennai yellow

An enigmatic presence in India's line-up, writes Osman Samiuddin, Suresh Raina is at his freest, his easiest and his best with the IPL's Chennai Super Kings.

 Azzam crew member Luke Parkinson works on the new 65-foot carbon racing yacht during preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race. Courtesy Ian Roman / ADOR

A little calm after the storm for Azzam crew

Azzam skipper Ian Walker writes another monthly update ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race as his crew enjoy a 10-day break after some rough conditions following their delivery from the UK to Portugal.

 Singapore have nearly half the side in home-grown players and prefer not to be reliant on expatriates. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

Asian Five Nations: Singapore ideal model for impatient UAE’s rugby federation

The UAE Rugby Federation are keen for their national team to have such heavy Emirati representation. They have a good template to follow.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National