Before Euro 2012 began, Laurent Blanc had seemingly transformed the sniping, divisive French squad that fell at the group stages in South Africa, into a reunited force, difficult-to-beat following 21 games unbeaten under the former World Cup winner.
So quietly impressive had the French seemed, several pundits looking for an alternative tip to separate them from the masses plumping for Spain and Germany had highlighted Les Bleus as a possible outsider to win the Euros for the third time in their history.
Just four games later, and those pundits will be kicking themselves. Despite progressing to the quarter-finals – largely thanks to a forgiving group – France’s feeble 2-0 loss to Spain on Saturday was their second in succession, following an equally tepid loss to Sweden in their final group game, and came amid all-too-familiar tales of disharmony and infighting within the French camp.
Not even the calming presence of Blanc was able to ensure that the talent rose above the egos as France once again underwhelmed at a major championship. Since their World Cup final in 2006, they’ve failed to get further than the quarter-finals and collected only six group points from a possible 27 in their last three tournaments – highlighting just how fortunate they were to progress this time around.
Blanc, who lead Bordeaux to their first Ligue Un title in ten years before being named as France boss, is high on Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s shortlist to take over at White Hart Lane.
But the French Football Federation hadn’t initially been too concerned with the interest from the Premier League, confident that Blanc would be keen to sign a contract extension following the tournament in Poland in Ukraine.
However given France’s weak elimination, and the continuation of off-field problems with a squad of players clearly more trouble than their talent seems to warrant, Blanc is now expected to think long and hard before deciding on his future.
Upset at the way his strong unit crumbled under the first sign of tournament hardship, Blanc may now feel the time is right to claim a high-profile move to England instead of staying as national boss and risking his star waning further.
His current contract expires at the end June, and according to today’s L’Equipe, Blanc refused to discuss his future in the immediate aftermath of defeat and is set to meet with FFF boss Noel Le Graet next week.
Former Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas and Ralf Rangnick, the ex-Schalke manager, are the other two names thought to complete Levy’s managerial wishlist.