Laurent Blanc has expressed his pride after being unveiled as France coach this morning. The former Bordeaux boss was named as Raymond Domenech's successor with the national team at last week's meeting of the French Football Federation's federal council.
Blanc was a key part of the France team, which triumphed in both the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil and Euro 2000, and he insists even their dismal World Cup campaign under Domenech in South Africa this summer did not deter him from continuing his link with the national team. "I am very proud to be here as coach of the France team," he said. "For me, the France team is above everything, it was a thread throughout my career. As a player I experienced difficult times but also some great moments.
"My commitment to the France team is absolute. I had other challenges available to me, but this one with the French team most attracted me. The recent difficult events never called that into question. The France team does not belong to anybody. It is for everyone, for you [the media] the same as for me. I understand what the France team represents, the rights and the requirements linked to this jersey," he said.
Blanc has signed a two-year contract to guide Les Bleus through the qualification campaign for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Former national team midfielder Alain Boghossian will remain as assistant coach, the role he occupied under Domenech, and is joined by Jean-Louis Gasset.
Blanc also pledged a clean slate for the players who orchestrated a training walkout ahead of this summer's final group game against the host nation. Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka was dismissed from the squad after a dressing-room bust-up with Domenech at half-time in the defeat to Mexico, and captain Patrice Evra was angered that details of Anelka's verbal attack were leaked to the press.
He confronted fitness coach Robert Duverne on June 20, three days after the game, and the players then refused to take to the training field. Legendary France defender Lilian Thuram, speaking at the federal council meeting, called for the Manchester United full-back's exclusion from future national team squads over the incident.
"The thing which shocked me the most was the group's behaviour in training 48 hours ahead of the third match against South Africa," Blanc admitted before he added: "Those responsible for this badly thought-out decision are numerous. It is not for me to decide on sanctions. I am not the bogeyman. I will be judged on results, and in order to achieve the best results I must have the best team. If I consider they are the best players in their position, I will take them. I will speak with them about what happened but in the FFF's rules, there are no disciplinary sanctions set out. I will make my decisions based on sporting considerations."