Hindsight is one of those great things in life; that opportunity to reflect on events with a clearer state of mind mind, to see where things went wrong, how you would do things differently next time, or whether you should have been in that situation in the first place.
If 23 Frenchmen and one astrology-obsessed manager looked back at the two chaotic weeks spent in South Africa this summer with hindsight, they probably would have joined Shay Given and the entire Republic of Ireland team in remonstrating with the referee over Thierry Henry’s handball antics on that night back in November.
Perhaps if they knew they would exit the 2010 World Cup in such controversial circumstances as they did in qualifying for it, Henry and company probably would’ve all held their hands up and said, ‘Yes, it was handball, we’ll happily watch the World Cup at home.’
The majority of that disgraced French squad are fortunate that they play their football outside of the county they let down so badly, avoiding the kind of terrace taunts most of the England World Cup squad have had to put up with in the opening Premier League fixtures.
You perhaps wouldn’t blame others for wanting to say au revoir, but the events of the summer have not convinced some of France’s hottest prospects to uproot, which is good news for the 2010/2011 Ligue 1 season.
Yoann Gourcuff’s decision to continue his football education at home, this time moving from Bordeaux to Olympique Lyonnais will have come as a surprise to some who thought the attacking midfielder had earned another chance to prove his ‘Zidane’ billing in of Europe’s elite leagues despite his disappointing time at AC Milan. Gourcuff’s name has often been heard in the same breath as Arsenal, but it seems the 24-year old will not be leaving France again just yet.
Gourcuff is also joined by Jimmy Briand at the Stade Gerland who made the move from Rennes this summer. The 25-year old French forward already has a handful of senior international appearances under his belt, and with Anelka’s lengthily 18-match ban and Henry’s retirement from the national side and the European spotlight, his opportunities can only improve now that he’ll also taste Champions League football this season.
Loïc Rémy, a name who Stoke, West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool supporters will have become more familiar with over recent weeks, surprisingly resisted the temptation to test his striking talents in the Premier League, opting to move from Nice to Marseille. Rémy is joined at the Stade Vélodrome by André-Pierre Gignac, a member of the disgraced French team who will be hoping that supporters remember his dominant performances for Toulouse prior to booking a seat on the flight to World Cup hell.
Europe’s biggest clubs have long been reaping the rewards of the hard work done by Ligue 1 clubs and the Clairefontaine academy to bring through so many technically gifted players, and while this is unlikely to change, the decision by Gourcuff and company to ‘rester à la maison’ will be good news for the French Football Federation, Mr Platini and supporters to see their latest crop of homegrown players quickly erase the events of this summer in their own backyard.