Fans were angry with Marcus for not standing with Benzema. Some threatened to protest to which the French coach cheekily responded, “It’s what the French are good at anyway.” When he left both Benzema and Valbuena out of the team selection for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and England, fans went into a meltdown. They called the coach every vile name in the book, but when they started on his brother, Marcus went into protective mode.
“French fans are like Arsenal fans in disguise,” Marcus said in an interview with My Heart Beats Football, a leading WordPress blog on French football. The blog was sometimes known for its controversial topics and Marcus was good friends with the host behind the blog. “They are spoiled rotten and refuse to stand with the team if something upsets them. I am not here to babysit anyone and that includes Benzema and Valbuena. There is a time and place for everything and the fans are yet to know their place. I don’t care if they want to blast me for not including their favorite striker and playmaker; they have no right to drag my brother into this.”
When asked if he solely agreed with the FFF’s decision to omit Benzema and Valbuena, the French coach replied, “From the time I heard the news, I was angry and I just knew that the FFF was going to make a tough decision regarding their presence at the tournament. And this is not just any case. It includes a so-call sex tape and blackmail. I don’t care about innocent until proven guilty. They might be innocent, but I don’t want them on the team. I want to avoid clashes leading up to the tournament and if they decide to fight, guess who’s going to get the blame? Not the wonderful FFF, not the fans lusting after them, but me.
“They might claim to want to put their differences aside and try to get along for the sake of being at the Euro, but one can never tell if in the heat of the moment they start calling each other vile names. Valbuena is still mad and there is no telling what he or Benzema is capable of. For the sake of my team, I rather not take them. The fans can hem and haw all they like, but my heart beats football too.”
France v Germany
Date: 13 November 2015
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
On the morning of the match against Germany, reports of a bomb threat uncovered at Hotel Molitor where the Germans were staying in the 16th arrondissement reached Clairefontaine. The local authorities wasted no time in evacuating the hotel, but there was no word on a match postponement so Marcus and the assistant coaches took the boys out on their customary walk before the match. When they returned to the hotel, Marcus settled in the lobby reading various sports papers and that’s how several of the boys found him. He was reading the La Gazetta dello Sport while the L’Équipe was opened out on a certain page. The El Mundo Deportivo was yet to be opened.
“You guys need me?” he asked without looking up from whatever he was reading.
“You can read Italian?” Pogba asked incredibly.
“You never said you’re bilingual,”
“Polyglot,” Marcus corrected.
Anthony Martial was quite surprised. “That means you can…”
“…speak any language you like.” Marcus finished.
“You’re an enigma,” Ben Arfa offered as the boys continue their way ribbing each other about how many goals they were going to score against Germany. Marcus came across an IFOP poll asking the French public if Benzema should play in the upcoming Euro. Only 10% said yes, while an overwhelming 46% said Valbuena should play. Marcus shook his head. “Sometimes I wonder if the French are missing common sense. None of them should get to play.”
When the match came around, Marcus had a dreadful feeling about it. Not even the hues and cries of the Stade de France got him going. He stood by the sidelines looking like he just stepped off the runway in a dark blue sweater, fitted jeans, black YSL on the feet. His hair was brushed back from his face leaving his spectacular jaw structure on show. He looked back at his twin and he could see that Ray was worried as well. He sat on the bench, his eyes staring at nothing in particular as he tried to take in the game. Olivier Giroud had put them up 1-0 just before half-time, but the fans weren’t pleased. They wanted more.
Marcus’s suspicions were eventually confirmed late in the second half by an explosion outside the stadium. A few of the footballers had slowed to a stroll, but the referee wasn’t having any of it and waved play-on, which made Marcus visibly upset. He clenched his fists wanting nothing more than to throttle the referee. He ended up getting into a shouting match with the linesman not caring about the game anymore.
“Listen to me when I’m yelling at you!” he shouted. “You need to stop this match.”
The poor linesman shrugged helplessly indicating that he couldn’t do as the coach requested. A goal was scored and the linesman was happy for the diversion when Marcus whipped his head around just in time to see Gignac celebrate the second goal of the match. The winning occasion was marred at the final whistle when it was announced that the Stade de France was under lock down. Security officials escorted the German and French teams off the pitch and into the tunnel where the real horror began.
Marcus was angry and his anger wasn’t quenching any minute soon. His fists were tightly clenched and Pogba jumped out of the way just in case coach was looking for the nearest thing to punch. In one corner of the tunnel, the German team and half of the French team were trying to console the coach’s mirror identical twin. Ray was distraught after learning some terrible news via text messages. Hugo Lloris and Kingsley Coman stood in front of the television trying to make sense of the present situation. The country had declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of terrorist attacks which left many dead.
The Eiffel Tower was turned off practically throwing Paris into darkness. Marcus can’t remember when he last saw Paris swamped in darkness. The FFF cancelled all appointments of Les Bleus on Saturday, but Marcus had to fight them to also call off the friendly against England. The FFF wanted to go ahead for the English FA was also in agreement, but Marcus was not having any of it and he held a presser on Monday to address the situation.
“Sometimes they tend to forget that the footballers are also human beings. The French nation is more important than a football match and although I know many of you were looking forward to this meeting, I don’t trust emotions. We’re a nation in mourning and we’re still grieving. This just doesn’t go away overnight. I do believe in my team and I do consider an honor to represent my country, but I think this is a time for the team to be with family and friends so we can all grieve and console one another together. We won’t let the cowards win. Not today, not tomorrow.
“Marchons! Marchons!” Marcus stood to a hefty round of applause by the journalists. He respectfully bowed his head and left the conference room.
^ I did not want to relive November 13th, 2015, but I had to touch on it a little.
^ My Heart Beats Football is not an actual leading blog on French football, but it gets around.
REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.