Didier Deschamps on France’s year: “It was not a failure.”

Interviewed this evening by Jérôme Rothen on his RMC Sport show, France manager Didier Deschamps discussed a range of topics, from Les Bleus’ defeat at the Euros to Switzerland to his own future, to Karim Benzema’s return to the national team

On France’s 2021 in review

“2021 was not a failure. We didn’t reach an important objective, we were prematurely knocked out of the Euros. I’ll state the facts, even if we’ve had time to digest – we had ten minutes [at the end of the Switzerland game] where we strayed. The highest level is ruthless. Even that match is considered a draw. For me, it has more of a taste of defeat rather than a draw. In 2021 we have ten wins and six draws if you count the one against Switzerland. It was a specific context. We did everything we could do qualify, we were 3-1 up in the 81st minute. And then things didn’t go the way they were meant to.” 

[…] There was no attitude problem. Look at how the discussions with Coman and Pogba were interpreted, they were taken negatively. The same thing happened during the Nations League, but the result was different.

On tensions between Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé

There was no clash. It was just ordinary tension, it was managed. It lasted 24 or 48 hours. Had we won against Switzerland there would be no signs to analyse. When the results don’t come, the details take on more importance.

On tension between players’ families at the Euros

It’s always existed and it’s amplified when the result is negative. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and say that everything was perfect. What happens on the outside… You think that it was simple for the 2018 World Cup. But winning the competition meant everything was forgotten.

On Karim Benzema

You say that Karim Benzema performed well with Griezmann and Mbappé in October. They did play well. Between the Switzerland game and October, they hadn’t played together. Did we not score goals at the Euros? There are no egos in the squad. I have no regrets on Benzema’s return. He played well. He was also upset that [the Euros] ended early. But don’t say that France didn’t perform. We were knocked out prematurely.

The most important thing is to be willing to meet to speak at length. Our meeting was a first step, regardless of who took the initiative. It went very well. I can’t go back in time, things happened as they did. [Benzema and I had] a common need to see and speak to each other. We spoke about everything, going back on it all. We spoke and I did my own analysis. We both knew that we needed to see each other.

[As a footballer] he has progressed in order to become very efficient. He takes care of himself and athletically he is at a high level. I had no issue with him, but at a human level he has increased in maturity. He has a joie de vivre.

[On his suspended prison sentence] I have a principle of not commenting on legal decisions and Karim has lodged an appeal, a suspensive appeal.

On Christopher Nkunku

He’s a credible candidate with regard to the competition. What he’s been doing since last season, in terms of efficiency, is very good. I can only encourage him to continue, he will come sooner or later.

On Jonathan Clauss

I know him. Lens supporters watch Lens and each have an opinion. I watch him, he is capable of great things. His age [29] is not an issue, I called up Jordan Veretout. What he’s been doing with Lens this season is very good. […] You watch Ligue 1, but there are also French players abroad. It was the case with Théo Hernandez, and he came [to the national team]. We talk about Clauss because he takes set pieces but it’s like Hernandez, where we talk more about his passes. Clauss is one of the candidates with regard to the competition [in the position].

On his future

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not worried about it. It’s [the FFF] president who decides. I’ve not extended yet, that’s how it is. […] I could have been tired, but it wasn’t the case after the Euros. It’s complete delight. As long as I have the desire and the energy…

[On the PSG job] I’m not available right now, I’m not on the market. You’ll have to ask me the question in a year’s time if the show is still on by then. I’m not speaking for myself, there are players who played for both teams [Marseille and PSG], why can’t a manager do so as well? I’m not saying it wouldn’t pose an issue for me but it’s a thought. Conte was champion with Inter and with Juventus. You have to have enemies and friends.


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