x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Blanc quits to coach France

Bordeaux unhappy with national federation as the former international confirms departure to replace Domenech after World Cup.

Speculation about Laurent Blanc's future is over.
Speculation about Laurent Blanc's future is over.

Laurent Blanc quit as Bordeaux coach yesterday, ending months of speculation by confirming he wants to succeed Raymond Domenech as France manager after the World Cup. Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the France Football Federation (FFF) president, issued a statement following Blanc's exit, confirming he is their preferred man for the job.

Bordeaux, who hoped Blanc would see out his contract with the club until June 2011, said yesterday in a statement that they will hold talks with the FFF over compensation. Blanc, who guided Bordeaux to the Ligue 1 title in 2009, was part of the France team which won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000. The FFF has already offered Blanc the job and is expected to announce him as Domenech's successor next week.

"The FC Girondins de Bordeaux have just been informed by their coach Laurent Blanc that he wishes to respond favourably to an offer by the FFF to become the France coach," Bordeaux said. Blanc, 44, ended Bordeaux's 10-year wait for the French title in just his second season in charge and looked poised for another successful year when they held a 10-point lead at the top of the French standings at the winter break.

But a run of poor results saw Bordeaux slump to sixth place and fail to qualify for European competition next year. They were also knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League by fellow French side Lyon. Bordeaux criticised the FFF after Escalettes said earlier this season he would like to see Blanc replace Domenech. The club said the "damaging statements by members of the FFF have undoubtedly affected the end of the 2009-10 season."

"The club wanted to keep Laurent Blanc as coach of the first team until the end of his contract on June 30, 2011," read a club statement yesterday. "Bordeaux has agreed to talk to the FFF on the question of compensation relating to the release of our coach." Escalettes said Blanc told him by telephone of the decision to leave Bordeaux. "Laurent Blanc's sporting past, personality and charisma fit the profile of the coach the FFF is looking for to consolidate France ambitions beyond the World Cup," said Escallettes in a statement.

Blanc, who told the Bordeaux players of his decision yesterday morning, is a popular figure among the fans and enjoys strong support from his former France teammates. Domenech will step aside after the World Cup, ending a troubled six-year reign. "He [Blanc] proved he was able to be in charge at club level. But coaching a national team is a different job. He will have to be ready immediately because the [Euro 2012] qualifying campaign starts in September."

* AP