Domenech admits errors
Under-fire French coach Raymond Domenech on Wednesday refused to give a clear idea of his future after his side crashed out of Euro 2008 following defeat to Italy and admitted in hindsight he might have done some things differently.
Asked how he felt after a night to reflect on the French failure Domenech said: "You can't say it was a restful night. It was a night of exchanging views. I should have stuck to my plan of insisting on this generation which is coming through in preparation for 2010.
"But in wishing to shield that initial message and shroud it in the Euro I made an error of communication," said Domenech, who was hamstrung between giving a new crop of youngsters their head or relying on a golden but ageing crop of players whose star has been on the wane since the 2006 World Cup.
In the end, he tried to do both with calamitous results.
Another error was the handling of the left thigh injury which Patrick Vieira brought into the tournament and which ultimately proved too serious for him to take part amid hints of confusion in the medical camp as "the picture that was coming back to me about the extent of my injury wasn't very clear."
On the subject of Vieira, Domenech insisted: "We managed things as well as we could, together. Pat is an important element of the group and we did all we could to keep him around as long as possible.
"We regret he couldn't get three more matches," said Domenech in a comment which heavily implied the Inter Milan midfielder would join Lilian Thuram in retiring along with Claude Makelele while 35-year-old goalkeeper Gregory Coupet is believed to be considering his future.
"We thought throughout he (Vieira) could play the following (final) match," against Italy, Domenech continued. "We had to take into account his medical and physical state with matches coming thick and fast. It was difficult to take a risk."
Domenech, who stunned many by instead of replying to a question about his future on television after the match proposed to his girlfriend, had pledged that his regime would not take the same risks by keeping on an injured, if talismanic, figure as Vieira in the squad as Roger Lemerre did at the 2002 World Cup with the similarly incapacitated Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane was finally thrown into the fray in a desperate and ultimately fruitless measure in the last group game against Denmark as the French defending champions crashed out.
After French media openly called for his resignation with France coming bottom of their group with one draw against Romania and losses to the Italians and the Dutch Domenech insisted that "the important thing is not the fate of the coach."
Having dropped old stalwarts such as David Trezeguet for the likes of young bloods Karim Benzema and Bafetembi Gomis the French coach insisted that he was trying to bring along a new generation of stars and it could not be done to order for a specific event but was an ongoing process.
"The French team is not about meeting an appointment every two years. The Euro has to serve as a field on which to gain experience for the 2010 World Cup."
Responding again to Vieira's charge that there had been "incoherence" regarding the extent of his injury Domenech said: "I understand when payers say things are not progressing quickly enough. The (medical) staff did the best they could.
"You have to transfer the group the spirit of the older heads who have this maturity and this experience. That was one of his functions, but there was a lack of homogeneity (between the older and younger players)."
Admitting to "disappointment" at his team's elimination Domenech, who said that "this team has a future" but would not be drawn on his own, said that renewing the squad could not be carried out too precipitously.
"If you set out with 23 inexperienced players you'll take some beatings."
In the event, with their mixture of old, young, disaffected and unfit, they did anyway.