PARIS, July 7 – The blame for France's catastrophic World Cup finals campaign should be laid at the door of former coach Raymond Domenech, said veteran defender William Gallas on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old – who is looking for a new club as he is a free agent with his contract having run out at Premier League giants Arsenal – told weekly publication Les Inrockuptibles that he had also been distraught when Domenech had awarded the captaincy to Patrice Evra for the finals.
"If it was a fiasco, then there are reasons for it," said Gallas, who played in all three of France’s group matches resulting in two defeats to Mexico and hosts South Africa and a draw with eventual semi-finalists Uruguay.
"And for me there is no need to draw a veil over why: they emanated from the coach.
"The real problem is the coach. Okay I wasn’t good, we weren’t good. But the coach wasn’t up to scratch either. I was appalled that we didn’t play with two strikers.
"Even the training sessions weren’t up to the level required. You can have the best players in the world in your team, but if you don’t have the coach you need, then the results will not be achieved."
Gallas, who under Domenech was part of the team that reached the 2006 World Cup final only to lose on penalties to Italy, revealed striker Nicolas Anelka’s foulmouthed outburst at Domenech delivered at half-time of the match with Mexico was bound to happen as it had been festering for a while.
"Domenech was not open. A lot of players were unable to talk to him and it was certainly my case.
"Anelka’s incident was a case of him (Anelka) being fed up for a few weeks prior to that.
"Domenech hammered into us time and again: ‘Put your egos to one side’. But I believe that he forgot to do that himself," said Gallas, who also claimed that Domenech refused to speak to Anelka once the outburst with some of the expletives used had been published in L’Equipe.
According to Gallas all the players were united in striking for one day over Anelka’s expulsion, though, that claim and his declaration that young Bordeaux playmaker Yoann Gourcuff had not been ostracised by several senior players have not been supported by off the record interviews with several of the other squad members.
Gallas, who apparently is being courted by French side Paris Saint Germain, reveals his own personal source of bitterness when he recounts how he discovered he would not be captain of the side after the sole remaining member of the 1998 World Cup winning squad, Thierry Henry, was told he would not be a starter.
"The hardest part of it, is the manner in which it happened," said Gallas, who after Henry was the most senior member of the squad.
"I realised when I entered the changing-room prior to the friendly with Costa Rica (May 26) that the captain’s armband was placed beside Evra’s shirt.
"He (Domenech) told me: ‘In any case, you would not be a good captain’," added Gallas, who was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy by Arsene Wenger in November 2008 after giving an interview in which he criticised the younger players in the squad and of splits within the club’s playing staff.