After the French football team were knocked-out of the euro 2012 in the quarter final stages, manager Laurent Blanc stepped down to be replaced by Didier Deschamps with whom he had played during a golden era of French football.
Deschamps captained the side that won the 1998 World Cup, and Euro 2000 and now becomes the fifth coach of ‘les bleus’ in ten years.
After promising to be stricter with players he has so far seen two wins and an important draw in Madrid to leave France level on points with Spain at the top of group I ahead of the 2014 Brazilian World Cup.
But France’s recent good performance against the world champions has not silenced questions about the behaviour of some of its players.
In an exclusive interview with euronews, Didier Deschamps told us about his time as manager so far.
euronews: Didier Deschamps, welcome to euronews. The French national team left the European Championships disappointed once again. You arrived four months ago and things seem to be improving. Are ‘Les Bleus’ reborn under Deschamps?
Didier Deschamps: Honestly, I don’t know if they are reborn, but we have a huge goal ahead of us, the Brazilian world cup, and we are in a good position to reach it. We drew with Spain and we played a fantastic second half, I think this match gave more emotion and motivation to the French people. They deserve it, for a long time they have not seen a moment like this.
euronews: What has changed since your arrival?
Didier Deschamps: Everything… no, I’m kidding. We have a lot of strong individuals in the French national team, but we also need to create a strong team and team-spirit. This new generation of players in France has the wrong mentality. I’m trying to change things, but it is difficult, because they were not taught to deal with rigid rules and they don’t respect the shirt in the way they should. Of course: some of them less so than others.
euronews: Is it only a problem with the players or is there something wrong with the organisation of the French Federation?
Didier Deschamps: The truth is that in France the players have a lot of freedom, more than in other countries. The clubs and the leaders of the clubs need to have more authority.
euronews: Have you had specific talks with Menez, Nasri, Ben Arfa and M’Vila, the players called by the French Federation after the European Championships?
Didier Deschamps: Yes, I can call them, speak with them, sometimes explain my decisions and discuss my choices with them, but I’m not obliged to explain myself. They should accept my choices and my decisions, even if they disagree with them.
euronews: Your national team won everything and the current national team has won nothing. Do they have the right to have such big egos?
Didier Deschamps: Big egos are part of football, maybe some are bigger than others. The ego can be positive if you transform it into an interior force, but it can be a huge problem as well. I think the people around the players: the clubs and sometimes the press are guilty too. The press make the player a phenomenon when he has just played well in two matches.
euronews: Can you tell us what kind of rules have you imposed since your arrival?
Didier Deschamps: The main rule to players is that each one of them give more to the team. These players are accustomed to receiving more than they give and this is wrong. They should feel privileged to be here, give the maximum, because they represent France and there are so many people who expect the best of them.
euronews: What should a player do during the season to get a place in the French national team?
Didier Deschamps: First of all, they should be competitive in their clubs, because I’m watching the matches all the time. This is the first judgement, after that they shouldn’t behave in an unacceptable way.
euronews: This judgement has left Clichy, Nasri, Ben Arfa, Mexes, M’Vila and Malouda out of the national team?
Didier Deschamps: No, Clichy is still with us.
euronews: But he’s losing his place.
Didier Deschamps: The competition is strong. In the same position we already have a player: Patrice Evra, who plays for Manchester United. When the coach changes, it’s normal he calls some new players and changes the team a little bit. In the case of Malouda, for example, he’s not playing at Chelsea either. He’s training with the juniors.
euronews: But he played the last Euro tournament.
Didier Deschamps: Yes, but he hasn’t played since. I need to put 11 players onto the pitch, the more difficult the choice is, the better it is.
euronews: But the cases of Nasri and Ben Arfa are different because they are playing a lot with their Premier League sides.
Didier Deschamps: Yes it’s true, but there are other players who are playing very well. I need to choose a team, and until now I’ve chosen other players.
euronews: And M’Vila?
Didier Deschamps: M’Vila could potentially play with the national team, but after what happened, he’ll not wear the national shirt so soon, I’m sure about that.
euronews: Many French fans accuse you of being too rigid and critical with the players. Do you agree?
Didier Deschamps: I don’t think so. They asked me to be more strict and rigid, anyway, I’m not here looking for unanimity.
euronews: You were part of an unforgettable French team. As captain you lifted a World Cup in 98 and a European Cup in 2000. What differences are there between your national side and the current one?
Didier Deschamps: You know, it is always hard for those who arrive afterwards. Before experiencing 98’, I experienced 94’ when we failed to qualify for the World Cup and during my generation people made comparisons with Platini’s generation. They used to say, the Platini generation was the best and after that we won the World Cup in France. It is never easy for a generation that comes after great moments and glories. There are cycles: Brazil had a cycle, Spain is going though an extraordinary cycle, but it’s impossible for a team to keep the same level for 10 or 15 years.
euronews: What can this team achieve under Deschamps?
Didier Deschamps: Everything is possible, first of all we want to go to Brazil and then if all goes well, I may continue another two years to Euro 2016 in France.
euronews: The golden ball election is coming up, have you already decided your vote?
Didier Deschamps: I still need to vote, certainly it will be between Ronaldo and Messi. The organisation should give two golden balls, but I know that’s impossible. There are other Spanish players like Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta who deserve the award, they won everything, but it’s hard competing with these 2 players.