He looked out at his beloved city from behind the window of the vintage suite of Hotel d’Evreux. The city of Paris was crying. He could hear a siren wailing loudly in the distance as if it was trying to drown out the rain. Marcus was shaken from his reverie when a soft knock was sounded on the door. He marched over and yanked it open to reveal a slightly trembling uniformed young lady. Her face was small, but her large frighten brown eyes made her look like a scared cartoon character.
“Oui?” Marcus looked at her, arms folded.
“Déjeuner?” she asked.
Marcus looked at the tray. “P’têt ben qu’oui, p’têt ben qu’non.” He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?”
The girl was intimidated by the French coach who was recently in the media for losing two friendlies against Belgium and Albania. He was shown shaking his fists, ranting and smashing his tablet by the sideline. When he checked in earlier and ordered room service, the staff flipped coins to decide who shall do his biddings. She lost the coin toss and shook all the way to his suite. His piercing blue eyes were now scrutinizing her and for a wild moment, she wondered if he was thinking lewd thoughts of her. She wasn’t bad looking and if he was looking to calm his rage she’ll be more than willing to help in this area. Wait, what? She shook the thoughts out of her mind and willed for a hole to open up on the ground and swallow her alive.
“Don’t bother,” he said when she took too long to reply. “I ordered room service twenty minutes ago. I was hungry then, I’m not hungry now.” And with that, he politely closed the door in her shocked face. He sighed as he paced the tiled floor. Losing two games in a row was unacceptable. He did not care if the French media sneered and called him a loser, but the fans did not deserve mediocre performances from Les Bleus given the present quality. There was one player he wished he could call upon, but he knew Yohan Gourcuff’s days as a fine player was over. There was mounting pressure to get it right before Euro and Marcus was going to do everything in his power to make France one of the best and strongest teams in the tournament.
Les Bleus was going to transform into a fearless team that Europe would envy come June 10th 2016.
“This is the least favorite part of being a coach next to losing,” Marcus addressed the journalists in the packed conference room. “Try and stick to football-related questions.”
After a few warm-up questions which both coach and captain answered, a Portuguese reporter decided to shake things up by asking, “Who do you think is the better player: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?”
Marcus’s blue eyes zoomed in on the raven blacked haired man. “Do Ronaldo or Messi play for France?” he retorted.
“I assumed you followed the world’s best players.”
“You want to talk about best players? Let’s talk about Griezmann. He is going to be the next biggest forward in the world. It’s a new era and the French are taking over everything. We already have the best goalies in the world in Lloris and Mandanda, but have you seen our upcoming talent in Paul Nardi and Alphonse Areola? And we also have Valbuena who can alter the rhythm and dynamic of any game.” He then snapped his fingers as if he forgot an important detail.
“Ah ha! Have you heard of Paul Pogba? He has raised the bar so high that we expect him to be decisive all the time. He is a technical leader and I rate him high. He’s always happy, always smiling, and very passionate. He has a very bright future ahead of him and I expect only wonderful things for him. Greizmann is the type of player the older French fans love and Pogba is the player that can identify with the new generation. And Payet. He is a player I can depend on anytime. He is my special playmaker.”
The Portuguese journalist was red in the face while his peers happily drummed out headlines for their respective sites or papers. The new French coach was a blunt walking gold mine. “Yes, but…?”
“I know Cristiano has achieved this and that, but every time I see him at the Ballon d’Or, I can’t help but laugh. It’s like he simply shows up to clap and watch as Leo collects the award.”
Gasps rang across the conference room. Lloris uncomfortably squirmed in his chair. A loud deep laugh suddenly rambled from Marcus’s throat. “You guys should see your faces! Reality aside, Cristiano is a terrific player and although any team will be honored to have him, I’m glad he’s not French for we already have the best.”
“How’s your beef with Zidane coming?” someone at the back asked, trying to get a rise from the expressionless coach.
“I don’t think Zidane eats beef but thanks for asking.”
Lloris stifled a grin as the conference room came alive once more with laughter and unmanly squealing. A woman sat in the front row eyes fixated on her iPhone as she quickly tried to take notes. However, her nail tapping on the screen was annoying music to Marcus’s ears. “Hey, lady, your nails are giving me the creeps.”
The woman’s cheeks redden when she realized the French coach was addressing her. She put her iPhone down and tried paying attention.
Portugal v France
Date: 04 September 2015
Venue: Alvalade Stadium, Lisbon
The second half sluggishly kick-off yielding no satisfactory result for either side. Not even Cristiano’s presence on the pitch reassured Portugal a clear victory. Marcus clenched his fist in the 50th minute and scoffed at his players already angry that he lost Fekir to injury earlier in the first half.
“Look at them!” he gestured at the Portuguese with a dismissal wave. “They’re so poor and not even their talisman can save them,” Marcus said as his twin came to stand next to him to take in the match. “We’re like their masters.”
“Masters with no goal,” Ray reminded him.
Marcus looked at him. “Sometimes I wish you weren’t so nice, you… BENZEMA, RUN! WHAT YOU STANDING THERE FOR?” Marcus screamed at the forward who was lurking around the Portuguese’s area. “Bloody lazy!” he turned and pointed to Anthony Martial on the bench. “Anthony, warm up. You too, Giroud.”
Ronaldo came off in the 68th minute, but Portugal was no better without him. Marcus handed Martial his debut in the 74th minute substituting Benzema, who was not pleased to come off the pitch. Marcus patted him on the shoulder and told him to stop being a grump. Valbuena was brought on in the 80th minute for Sissoko who had a good game. Five minutes later, the little playmaker deceived Rui and curled a magnificent direct free kick past him. The traveling French fans erupted with the French bench. Ray clapped and yelled, “Good job, team!”
The match was won by a single goal and back in the locker room, the team listened as their coach ranted. “You guys could’ve been so much better out there today. We started off dominant and there were several chances to kill the game in the first half, but alas! France does not score many goals.” He turned to Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema. “Thierry Henry is the best goal scorer in the history of the French national team. It’s a record I want you, Giroud and you, Benzema to reach.
“I believe that you are the next best things and I want you to tap into your ability. I challenge you to reach and break that record.”
“Challenge accepted,” Benzema said with a grin. “What about you Giroud? You scared?”
Giroud scoffed. “We’ll see who’s scared when I reach there before you.”
Ray chuckled as some of the boys hollered. “I have some news of my own to share.” He started and just like that he had everyone’s attention. “As you know by now, I direct movies. I want to bring in a small camera crew to start shooting scenes in training and conducting interviews which I will have TF1 show on our path to Euro. Is that something you’ll like?”
“That sounds like a terrific idea!” Evra piped up. “If everyone agrees then I don’t have any problem.”
Ray cheekily grinned. “You guys have a chance to say things about your coach.”
“Hey! Don’t fill their heads with venom.” Marcus warned.
“Or what, Marc? You gon hit me?”
^ Déjeuner – lunch (French)
^ P’têt ben qu’oui, p’têt ben qu’non – Maybe yes, maybe no (French)
^ Qu’est-ce que c’est? – What’s this? (French)
REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.