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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Domenech pleading for patience
By Martin Richardson

Raymond Domenech

Michel Platini and his colleagues at the French Football Federation are sweating on whether their choice of replacement for departed national coach Jacques Santini is the correct one.

A 0-0 draw against Republic of Ireland in Paris leaves France with five points from a possible nine in their World Cup qualifying campaign, a far from ideal start to a tight group.

Elsewhere in Europe the top coaching jobs have gone to talisman-like figureheads, Marco van Basten in Holland and Jurgen Klinsmann in Germany, former greats charged with the revitalisation of their footballing nations.

The FFF ignored public clamour to appoint former skipper Laurent Blanc and instead handed the reins to one of their own coaches, Raymond Domenech, previously in charge of the Under-21s.

Shorn of the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Marcel Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu and Lilian Thuram, Domenech has been forced to rebuild and is determined to create a new French dynasty on his own terms.

Proper preparation is Domenech's mantra, much as it was Sir Clive Woodward's in building England's rugby union World Cup-winning side.

Among the orders handed down to his players are; a ban on mobile phones, the insistence on shin pads in all training sessions and a strict meal timetable.

It is rumoured not all of the squad members have reacted well to Domenech's hard line, but the coach is unapologetic.

"Successful teams have a precise working framework around them, good organisation and everyone working for the common good," he explained.

"It's up to the players to take an adult approach to the new conditions, there is a difference between what one can do at a club and a national team."

Domenech is trying to transplant a collective spirit on the training ground onto the field itself, and into a team previously reliant on outstanding individual talent.

Not that any team boasting Robert Pires and Thierry Henry could be pigeon-holed as workmanlike, but their Premiership partnership has failed to flourish on the international stage.

My main concern is to find an attack that scores goals
Raymond Domenech
After firing a broadside at Pires in the build-up to the Irish game, Domenech has now turned on Henry and hints he could find himself surplus to requirements.

"Thierry is not indispensable and he has not been performing so I may have to look at that," added Domenech.

France have scored just three goals in four games since Domenech took over, including two against the Faroe Islands, and they were shackled impressively by Ireland.

Despite the second 0-0 draw in consecutive home qualifying matches, Domenech insists the team are progressing and the retired golden generation will soon be consigned to the past.

His preferred central-defensive partnership of Monaco pair Gael Givet and Sebastien Squillaci is providing a solid base and with captain Patrick Vieira returning from suspension, Domenech has cause for optimism.

"I'm pleased because we played much better against Ireland than we did against Israel," he said.

"We have not conceded a goal which means something is right.

"What we need to add now is a fluidity to our game and that comes from confidence and calmness within the team."

The French public remain patient for the time being, but Domenech may not be given that much time to complete his ambitious project.



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