Donadoni survives as Domenech steps into firing line
Euro 2008 makes future look bright for some, but unsure for others.18 June 2008
SWITZERLAND - Raymond Domenech's tenure as France coach is almost certain to come to an end in the coming days following his side's elimination from Euro 2008 at the hands of Italy.
The French media has been virtually unanimous in its calls for the 56-year-old to step down from a post he has held since July 2004, with Didier Deschamps, who has coached at Monaco and Juventus Turin, and Bordeaux's Laurent Blanc the early frontrunners.
While the vultures already circle around Domenech, Tuesday night's 2-0 win in Zurich has breathed new life into Azzurri coach Roberto Donadoni's international coaching career.
Donadoni extended his contract with Italy until 2010 before Euro, but the deal included a clause that the extension was dependent on his team reaching the last four.
After the 3-0 hammering by the Netherlands in their opening Group C game, the prospect of Italy occupying one of the semi-final berths seemed remote.
Although Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete stood by his coach, Donadoni's chances weren't helped by reports that he had fallen out with a number of his players, and confused others with his formation switches.
World-Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi was even touted for a return to help reinvigorate the floundering Azzurri.
But now after a facile win against a poor France, coupled with Holland's defeat of Romania, only a quarter-final date with Spain on Sunday in Vienna stands between Donadoni and saving his job.
"We have had our difficulties," he admitted. "I want to say thank you to my team and especially to our president."
Meanwhile, the crushing loss to the team that also beat them in the 2006 World Cup final signals the end of an era for France, which many see as all the more reason for ditching Domenech and starting afresh.
Old warhorses Lilian Thuram and Willy Sagnol were already deemed surplus to requirements for the Italy clash while it seems to be also the end of the road for 35 year-old Claude Makelele.
The careers of veterans Patrick Vieira, who was kept in the squad despite injury and never played, and Thierry Henry are also drawing to a close.
By leaving the likes of Phillipe Mexes of AS Roma and Arsenal's Bacary Sagna at home, it seems Domenech went for experience over youth, rather than going for a blend of the two. He will now pay the price for that decision.
By Tom Merton