France are preparing a major shake-up of staff and players following their dismal World Cup performances with Roger Lemerre the chief casualty of the new regime.
Les Bleus failed to win or score a goal in the finals, and now French football federation (FFF) vice-president Michel Platini has confirmed that Roger Lemerre will step down as coach of the national team.
“I met with Claude Simonet (FFF President) last week and informed him of my choice of new coach” said Platini.
Platini added that the new coach was to immediately begin building a new team in preparation for Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, and said thatit was the end of the road for many of the present side.
“What the French team has achieved over the past few years is remarkable but the World Cup represents the end of a cycle” he said.
Many of the players in France’s World Cup squad were in their 30’s and are not expected to stay on with the national team. Youri Djorkaeff and Christophe Dugarry have already announced their retirement from international football. And players such as Fabien Barthez, Christian Karembeu, Alain Boghossian, Franck Leboeuf, Emmanuel Petit and Marcel Desailly will be in their mid to late 30’s by the next World Cup.
“Zinedine Zidane still has his place as well as David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry, but it is not the place of the rest of the players who were at the World Cup to decide if they are to stay on” said Platini.
Jacques Santini is favourite for the post, having just guided Lyon to the title last season and subsequently made way for a younger coach. Alternative candidates such as Arsene Wenger, Jean Tigana and Gerard Houllier have all been discounted as they are committed to long contracts with big clubs.
Other contenders in the frame include PSG boss Luis Fernandez, Auxerre legend Guy Roux, andAlain Giresse who was a star of the famous French midfield of the 1980’s.