Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

Huit: Suspensions, Euro draw & Ballon d’Or

The remainder of 2015 went by in a blur. Mathieu Valbuena had chosen Le Monde to break his silence on Benzema and the blackmail-sex tape affair. Valbuena did everything right in filing a legal complaint and he admitted how skeptical he was when it came to the so-call sex tape. Marcus was reading the interview online via his iPhone as he sat in the passenger seat of his brother’s Porsche 918 Spyder. He laughed and shook his head.

“Valbuena is a feisty little man,” he said as Ray drove onto an unpaved road. The twins were spending time with family and friends at their very own personal Château da Díxon in Bordeaux. They needed to unwind, but Marcus never stopped following the team. He told the FFF whenever anything came up even if it wasn’t serious, once it concerned his boys; he wanted to be the first to know. “I’m not surprised that Nasri is mentioned.”

“Huh?” Ray asked as he continued to maneuver the car on the long winding road. The magnificent 18th century Château finally came into view, a French flag planted firmly on the roof furiously fluttering in the wind.

“It says here, that Nasri offered to play the role of an intermediary in Benzema’s place. And I quote Valbuena ‘When you are in a racketeering situation and you find names like that, it is almost as if you are among idiots.’” Marcus laughed. “However, I do agree with him when he says that justice is for everyone.”

A little redhead girl with skin as smooth as Baileys Irish Cream came running towards the twins just as Ray parked the car. “Hey, baby girl!” Ray smiled as his niece climbed into the car and deposited herself in his lap. He wound his arms around her and kissed her rosy cheeks.

“Ashley beat you at FIFA again?” Marcus asked.

“Yes,” the little girl folded her arms and pouted. “She’s cheating!”

Ray chuckled. “So much for unwinding,”

“Don’t worry, Adeline, we’ll teach you how to play FIFA and beat Ashley.” Marcus got out of the car and picked the little girl off his brother’s lap. “Let’s go.”

A few days later, Le Monde had exclusively obtained a transcript of what Benzema said to judge Nathalie Boutard. Marcus nastily scowled at his tablet as he read the transcript. “Benzema is a disgrace to French football,” he grumbled as he swirled the glass of red wine in his hand. “His goose is as good as roasted.”

On December 10th 2015, FFF president Noël Le Graët announced that Benzema was suspended from national team duties. The striker chose to accept the suspension via social media.

At the Euro 2016 draw, France was drawn in Group A with Albania, Switzerland, and Romania. Marcus thought it was a good draw and called his opponents strong ones. When the media said France got an easy draw, Marcus retaliated and called them fools for “this was disrespect to the other teams,” he firmly believes that France had to work for it for “we are no clear favorites. The media is saying this because we’re hosting the tournament.”

Ray waved at some of the journalists clamoring for his and Marcus’s attention as they attended the Ballon d’Or ceremony. Marcus didn’t want to attend in the first place and he took the longest to get ready. In the end, he decided on a black turtleneck sweater and soft black pants. His twin wore a blue suit with the jacket undone, a white shirt underneath two buttons undone at the top showing off a little chest. The female journalist who was trying her hardest to avert her eyes while interviewing him kept failing.

“What do you think of Zidane being the Madrid coach?” a Spanish journalist asked the head coach.

Marcus cheekily grinned. “He wants my job. He wants the France job. The Madrid job is just a cover up. A step forward.”

“Do you think Zlatan changed the Ligue 1?”

“The only thing I’m sure he changes is his underwear. Changing Ligue 1? Non. There was nothing to change about it in the first place. He can’t singlehandedly win PSG the Champions League. He flops in big games and doesn’t deliver for Sweden. Maybe when he leaves PSG they’ll finally win the CL.”

The journalist thanked the French coach for his time and moved on just as Pogba walked over with his mother. “Coach!” the delighted young man was beaming. “I want you to meet my mom.”

“Hello, how do you do?” Marcus shook the woman’s hand warmly as they proceeded to chat up a storm. Pogba watched as his mother and the coach carried on suddenly feeling left out. He looked this way and that way for a familiar face. He spied Ray, but he was flirting right back with a female journalist. He shrugged and walked away from the chattering. When his mother finally caught up with him, she was giddy with happiness.

“He’s such a nice young man!” she chirped. “He commended you and admires your work ethic.”

Pogba smiled. “Coach is cool. He can be a little crazy, but he has our best interests at heart. Does it calm your doubts now?”

Inside, Marcus barely paid attention to the ceremony instead devoting his time to playing a brain game on his iPhone. Ray, on the other hand, shook hands with Cristiano, warmly chatted up Messi in Spanish, and even spoke Portuguese to the young Brazilian who was touted as the next big thing, Neymar. When he finally claimed his seat next to the mirror identical twin, Marcus was almost asleep. Ray nudged him in the side. Marcus grumbled, “The ceremony is a farce. It’s almost always between Leo and that man from Portugal because they’re the only two footballers in the world. Why can’t they just hand Leo the stupid award and let us be on our way already?”

Messi was eventually crowned the winner, and Marcus made a face as his brother applauded with everyone else.

After the Ballon d’Or, the votes were released to the public. Marcus votes had gone to three French players: Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, and Karim Benzema. Social media didn’t let him rest easy that evening.

NOTES:

^ This was kind of a filler chapter.

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

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Posted in Les Bleus, Les Bleus! The Path

Sept: My heart beats football

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.”

GAME DAY

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.

“Yes,”

“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.

NOTES:

^ 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.

My Heart Beats Football

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

Sis: Black mail and sex tape

Marcus was livid and it had nothing to do with the way the country said France was playing. On this calm October morning, he disliked that he had to do with a rude awakening, given that he had managerial duties to perform. He was having breakfast in his Parisian home when his twin dropped a bomb on him.

“Sex tape? Blackmail?” he asked trying to process what he had just been told, pushing his breakfast aside. “Ray, are you sure?”

Ray sadly nodded. “The news just broke. Benzema was apparently involved in Valbuena’s sex tape affair.” He slid his tablet over to his twin and sat down.

“What the heck is this rubbish? Is this a prank?” Marcus was fuming and everyone closest to him knew this was never a good sign. He scowled rather sourly. “If you don’t take this tablet back right now it’s going to end up in smithereens.”

Ray quickly reached for his tablet. “Do you know what this means?”

“Yes, it means trouble for both Benzema and Valbuena.” Marcus picked up his iPhone. “I am inclined to believe that Benzema is innocent until proven guilty, but it’s always the quiet ones. And what in the world is Valbuena doing with a sex tape? Doesn’t he do enough playmaking on the field he wants to play in bed too?” he dialed a number, put the phone to his ear and ran a hand through his wavy dark curls as he waited for the person on the other end to pick up.

Ray sighed softly and picking up his Genius tablet decided to go through some of the footage he had shot of his boys. Some of it was already uploaded via his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube account to favorable views by not only the French supporters but also by football fanatics alike. He had planned to use some of the footage in the run-up to Euro 2016 and if France were to win, there were plans to release a documentary. He got up and walked out on the balcony just as Marcus started up a heated conversation with someone from FFF.

As Ray perched his elbows on the balustrade and looked out at his beloved city, he contemplated what the FFF was going to do next. With the brand new scandal, this was bound to shake up a nation known for its bad timing prior to tournaments. He loathed the fact that they will become a comedy show of sorts yet again. When his brother took charge of the team he was received with mixed emotions from top officials. Some complained about his age, whereas some said he had no experience regardless of him winning the Ligue 2 title. Football lived in Marcus’s blood and he was keen on taking France to Euro 2016 to win whether or not the players regarded as the best in the world were included.

“Ray, I’m going to the patisserie to pick up an order. Want anything?” Marcus asked a moment later.

“Almond and coffee macarons,” Ray deadpanned.

“Don’t be such a worry-bot. We’ll win this war.” Marcus flipped around, black trench coat flying behind him. “We’ll show them.” He said as he went out the door of their comfortable Parisian home. Seconds later, Ray watched as the twin revved up his motorcycle, shouted how much he loved Paris and sped off down Rue de Saint-Pères.

Two days later, Benzema’s involvement in Valbuena’s affair escalated and L’Équipe released a damning transcript that could possibly hurt Benzema’s football career with the French team in the future. The transcript had all but confirmed Benzema’s alleged role in this developing scandal.

“We have Benzema on tape saying that Valbuena is not taking him and his friend, Karim seriously. He then goes on to tell Valbuena that one can see everything for he had seen the video.” Ray shook his head in disgust. “He goes on to tell Valbuena to come to Lyon and see his friend, just him alone without involving another party.”

Marcus took a long pull from the slim cigarette between his middle and fourth fingers and rocked back in the chair. “Benzema and his horrible childhood thugs! I am not here to take care of sex tapes. I’m here to win the Euro. What is he? Twelve? Some team mate to have!”

“You can feel that he wanted to advise Valby, but at the same time, he was laughing at him. It’s like he’s laughing with the blackmailer who happens to be his close friend while pretending to help Valbuena.”

“You know what, Ray?”

“What?”

“I still can’t believe that midget made a sex tape!”

NOTES:

^ The damning transcript in full here:

The Entire Damning Transcript

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

Un: Brazilian delight

brazil-875577_960_720.jpg (960×540):

Their new coach had an annoying habit of rapidly chewing gum, the one thing Les Bleus have come to learn about him in the last two and a half hours. They had completed their morning training session under his watchful eyes, and ate lunch and yet, their new coach wouldn’t reveal his name or try to get to know them personally (he claimed he already did). If this was some sort of tactical scare, well, it was partially working. Benzema, Pogba,  and Giroud were loitering in the lobby of the Clairefontaine awaiting the rest of the team when their coach appeared out of nowhere dressed to the nines, a fantastic leather duffle in his black gloved right hand. He looked like he was going out and he forgot something and came back to fetch it. His presence caused Pogba to yelp and the coach looked up in dismay.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

Giroud looked behind him and then back at the coach. “Are you speaking to us?”

“Erm, yes, why?”

“You’re being nice,” Benzema accused. “Do you have a split personality or something? Just an hour ago, you were being cold and now you’re being nice. Make up your mind, oui?”

The coach’s blue eyes widen. “That son of a…MARCUS!!” he shouted causing everyone in the lobby to protect their ears.

When Marcus finally appeared with half of the team following him, everyone gasped. There were two of them and apparently ‘Sir’ was this Marcus fellow. They were mirror identical twins and the team looked back and forth in wonderment. They couldn’t tell them apart in physical appearance. Had Marcus not been wearing black slacks and a simple white t-shirt!

“Marc, why do you have to scare them on the first day?”

Marcus simply grunted. “Team, this is my better half, Ray, and he’s your assistant coach.”

“Hi Ray!” almost everyone chirped at once.

Ray smiled. “Hello,” and Marcus knew they were going to gravitate towards his twin rather easily. Ray always brought the sunshine with him. “Now that the greet and meet is over, please, as you were.” Marcus immediately got rid of the team from the lobby. “It’s lovely of you to join us. How’s the sun in London?”

Ray frowned. “So I was late, deal with it. I had a meeting with Shah Rukh Khan.”

“Still late to his meetings?”

“Yes, and we had a fight. I swear we’re like an old couple.” Ray fondly shook his head. “Anyway, did you brief the team? Are they excited and motivated to fight for what’s theirs next year?”

“Yeah, about that,” Marcus grinned wickedly at his identical twin. “I put them through their paces earlier and I’ve already decided who’s playing and who’s not.”

Ray groaned. “Marcus, you’re going to make them hate you.”

“I’m not here to be liked. Go change and meet me back here in three minutes. We have a presser to attend.”

Marcus savored the last pull of his cigarette causing Ray to fan his face as they head towards their first press conference as the new minders of Les Bleus. He put out the cigarette using the tip of his tongue and disposed of it in a bin just as they walked into the buzzing conference room. As soon as the identical duo sat down, the room became deadly quiet. Some of the new faces who never had the pleasure of seeing the twins this close before stared from one to the other.

“Are we going to get started, non?” Marcus held up his left wrist and tapped the titanium  Cartier. “Time’s just ticking by and we still have to prepare for the match.”

“How would you deal with replacing a long time coach?”

Marcus looked at the journalist who asked the first question and shook his head. “Next question,”

“What are you doing to gain the players’ trust?”

“I’m not here to babysit anyone to gain their trust. Next question.”

A female journalist raised her hand and points at Ray. “Ray, are you and the team ready for the game tomorrow?”

Before Ray could respond, his twin interjected with, “Now that’s how you ask a question relating to a game.”

Over the few chuckles, Ray replied, “I actually just flew in, but the boys are ready. Obviously, it’ll take time for them to adapt to the new coaching head, but they’re ready.”

The same journalist asked, “Do you anticipate it to be a close game?”

Marcus scowled. “Football is like they say, unpredictable. Close, far, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the result when the final whistle goes.”

“Now that you’re the new coach of Les Bleus, do you think you’d ever recall Nasri?”

“He is not a favorite player of mine. As a matter of fact, he has never been a favorite player of mine.” Marcus watched as shock and surprise littered some of the journalists’ faces. Some even had the audacity to gasp. “He is not important. Yes, go on and can quote that. It’s not a misquote.”

Ray fondly shook his head at his brother as he reached for the glass of water. Marcus handled the media his way not caring what the world may think when they read his blunt and sometimes rude remarks.

When the journalists recovered from the shock, one asked, “Have you decided who your captain is?”

“I believe his name is Hugo Lloris.”

At this mention, a round of applause broke out from the back of the room.

Marcus didn’t even smile. “Alright, this interview is over.” He stood in time with his twin. After they exited, the journalists couldn’t find a juicier topic to talk about than Les Bleus’ new crazy coach.

GAME DAY

France v Brazil

Date: 26 March 2015

Venue: Stade de France, Paris

The team waited anxiously in the locker room for their coach to inform them of his first starting eleven in the friendly against the Brazilians. Game time was only twenty minutes away and still no one knew who was going to start. This made Patrice Evra angry and he was about to suggest that they go out there to find the coach when the door swung open. Marcus walked in arguing with his twin. Both were dressed in shirts, ties, vests and jeans, their reddish auburn wavy hair tamed and under control.

“Everyone ready to play?” Marcus asked. When everyone nodded or grunted in agreement, he said, “Good,” and started pointing at individuals. “You’ll start, you’ll start, you’ll start, and you’ll sit on the bench.” He said to Valbuena, Evra, Sakho and Varane respectively. When he had his ten men, he turned to the goalies. “Mandanda is my goalie and captain tonight.” He looked at the team. “I don’t care if this is a friendly. It’s not fun and games for me. I don’t want you to enjoy yourself out there; I want you to work your asses off.”

Pogba couldn’t help it. He had to say something. “But it’s just a friendly.”

“Forget about starting. Schneiderlin takes your place.” The team gasped realizing the reality of their situation. “And if you lose this game, I don’t want to see any of you on social media sites. At your clubs, you have it too easy, right Benzema?”

“Marc!” Ray hissed. “You don’t single-handedly embarrass a player.”

“I am who I am. I go to sleep and wake up like this.”

And then he was gone. The team looked to Ray.

Ray shook his head and sighed. “Guys, regardless of what Marc says, go out there and do your best. I don’t want to say it’s just a friendly because we both know we’ll be lying because of the fans we have.” He smiled and the guys couldn’t resist smiling along with him. “Win, lose or draw allez Les Bleus!”

“ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!”

Before the match, legends such as Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Marcel Desailly were honored on the pitch for reaching 100 caps. Marcus thought it was time wasting. The FFF could’ve done it another time. They had requested him to pose with the legends for a photo, but he declined. He didn’t come to pose for photos with has-beens. He came to coach the future.

The game started well for France, but better for Brazil, so when Varane scored the first goal, Marcus didn’t break into celebration  with the Stade de France. He was watching Brazil and how hungry they were on the ball. He never disliked a team more than Brazil. In the 40th minute, Oscar tips the ball under Mandanda for the equalizer and the French fans looked toward the new coach to see his reaction, which was quicker than the no reaction expression for the opening goal.

Fils de pute!” Marcus yelled startling his bench. “What the heck is wrong with you at the back there? Now is not the time to take a nap!”

When the whistle blew at half time with the scoreline at 1-1, Marcus was the first to enter the tunnel. When they assembled in the locker room, he was pacing, angrily stabbing at his tablet screen. “Pogba, does out there look like a friendly to you?”

“No, Sir.”

“Exactly! That’s why I said that this game is not a friendly when I walked in here earlier!” Marcus shouted blue eyes enraged. “Brazil didn’t come here to make friends. They came here to fight and to win, and you want to know something? They are going to win tonight, but by how much? That depends on the way you play.”

Hugo Lloris was quite surprised by the new coach’s outburst. No one has ever talked to them like this before. It was obvious that the boys were feeling the same way too given that they were looking at anywhere but the coach. Ray was stopped out in the tunnel by the press and he had obliged them.

“You can’t leave Mandanda exposed in the back like that!”

Les Bleus didn’t fare better in the second half and when rising Brazilian superstar and captain Neymar scored their second goal in the 57th minute, Stade de France began to boo the French team. Marcus huffed and squeezed the tablet tighter in his palm. Twelve minutes later Luiz Gustavo sealed victory for the Brazilians with a sweet header leaving Mandanda helpless. Marcus had it. He threw the tablet on the ground and stomped on it silencing the Stade de France.

“Even my grandmother could’ve prevented that shot from going in by defending better, you blind bats!” Marcus scoffed and pointed to Nabil Fekir on the bench. “Warm up,”

“Yes, Sir!” Fekir grinned despite the tense atmosphere and did as he was told. He entered the game in the 74th minute replacing Antoine Griezmann thus making his debut for Les Bleus. When Stade de France started to boo him every time he touched the ball, Marcus’s anger almost boiled over. He looked over at his twin on the bench who only shook his head in pure disgust. The match ended 3-1 in Brazil’s favor, but the highlight of the night was the new French coach’s antics by the sidelines. Twitter was averaging 200 tweets per second and he was currently a trending topic.

TF1 grabbed a hold of Marcus before he could make an angry exit. “This was your first game as the new charge of Les Bleus. Do you think you could’ve prepared better?”

Marcus scowled. “Brazil didn’t come to make friends. They were fast and precise and did exactly what they came here to do: win.”

Realizing that he wasn’t going to get full answers out of this one, the journalist changed his tactic. “Do you think France could’ve won?”

“Perhaps we should have tried coming back when we were 2-1 down, but what is done is done at the final whistle. I mean, Brazil was traumatized at the World Cup when Germany beat them 7-1, so I think this is a good result for them.”

The journalist tried to keep a straight face as he asked, “What did you think of the atmosphere this evening?”

“I would commend the fans, but I think they were downright immature and atrocious for whistling Fekir. They should get use to changes and they should be on board with Les Bleus no matter what. Tonight, they were an utter embarrassment and I wish I could punish every single one of them myself. Bonsoir.” Without waiting for the journalist to declare the interview over, Marcus walked off and headed into the tunnel. The team was dreading the talk after seeing their coach throw and stomp on the tablet by the sideline. Who knows what this deranged man could do to them?

“I’m too young to die,” Pogba fussed as he fiddled with his sweater.

Giroud found the situation amusing. He laughed and threw an arm around his young friend. “Have no fear, I’ll protect you.”

“From what?” Marcus asked as he entered the locker room causing everyone to fall silent when they saw the fire in his blue eyes. “As your coach, I am not here to spoon feed you or to hold your hand to guide you through darkness or to catch you when you fall. I might be the coach of Les Blues, but first and foremost, I am a fan and I am going to behave like one whenever we win or lose.” He looked at every individual as he said this. “We didn’t lose 7-1 but don’t let that happen again especially against Brazil.”

A few of the players lightly chuckle.

“I take it you don’t like Brazil then?” Fekir asked bravely.

“Non, Monsieur!” Marcus grimaced. “By the way, Fekir, you’re going to be a great addition to the team. I like what you did out there in the last ten minutes. Don’t listen to the fans. Let them boo. Listen to your heart.”

“Teacher’s pet,” Pogba playfully accused under his breath as Fekir positively beamed next to him.

“Remember, no social media tonight. Freshen up and retire to bed. We have to participate in activities in the morning.”

After the coach left, some of the boys let out relieved breaths.

“It’s official, he has some sort of mental problem,” Benzema stressed. “How are we going to get along with him? Where did he come from? Does he even have coaching experience?”

Lloris shrugged. “Why not ask him at practice tomorrow?”

“Are you insane?” Matuidi looked at his captain in disbelief. “He’s loco! He’s going to eat us alive.”

“Poulet!” Evra called out from across the room. “Cluck cluck!”

The locker room erupted into laughter forgetting that they had a madman for their new coach for the moment.

NOTES:

^ Fils de pute – son of a bitch (French)

^ Poulet – chicken (French)

^ I think I might have given too much away, but I wanted to bring the character across in such a way that one would know what to expect in later chapters.

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

Posted in Les Bleus! The Path

PROLOGUE: Just call him Sir

He was supposed to have great vision in mind when he succeeded Didier Deschamps as the coach of the French national football team that was excited to meet him simply because they were told he was like their peer in terms of age, but when he walked into the dressing room for the first time on that warm afternoon bringing in the uninvited cold air of a walk-in freezer, all the boys scampered behind their French captain and pushed him forward to have a word with the new coach. It was a well-known fact that no one intimidated Hugo Lloris although the new coach could squash him like a bug by the way he was scrutinizing everyone with blank ocean blue eyes and unsmiling lips. At twenty-eight, he could not lay claims to the youngest-ever international football manager title. That title went to a British amateur footballer at the age of twenty-five when he took on duties to coach the tiny Pacific island of Pohnpei.

After what seemed like an eternity in waiting for their new coach’s first words, the team grew frustrated at the brewing cold air around them. With his poker expression still intact, their new coach simply said, “I can’t believe you lost to Germany at the World Cup.”

A collective gasp went around the room at the greeting.

“Hey, this isn’t any way to introduce yourself to the team.”

“Hmm, and what is the right way, Pogba?” when steel blue eyes rested on the footballer, the youngster shivered and backed off. “Thought so. Now take your lazy asses out to the training ground for your first session of the day.”

The team started to file out obediently then stopped. Slowly, they turned back towards the lunatic who was supposedly going to lead them to Euro 2016 glory.

“Yes, why did you stop? The door is that a’ way and it’s wide open.”

Lloris frowned when Olivier Giroud ribbed him in the side none too gently. “We didn’t get your name.”

“You can call me Sir.”

“You can call me Sir,” Pogba mimicked in a mocking British tone as he did his lap around the field causing Blaise Matuidi and Karim Benzema to snicker. “Who in their right mind show up as the new coach of a prestigious football team such as ours and act as if he owns the world? He should be honored to even be in our presence!”

“I don’t think he would be,” Benzema supplied. “He looks tough and he’s going to run us into the ground if we don’t give him what he wants.”

Pogba sucked his teeth just as their captain jogged up beside them. “What do you think of the new coach, Hugo?”

“Zut!” Hugo Lloris playfully exclaimed causing them to laugh. “On a serious note, I know that we’re going to miss Deschamps, but we have to be united and give our new coach the benefit of the doubt.”

“You goody two shoes,” Pogba joked with the easy-going French captain.

“Say what you will, but at the end of the day he is the coach and I’m going to make sure you kids respect him.” Lloris pointed at a smirking Benzema. “That goes for you too, Benz.” He jogged off to join Steve Mandanda.

“Hey!” Benzema called after him. “I’m not a kid. I’m certainly older than Pogba!”

“Then that makes you my elder.”

A blast of laughter came from Blaise Matuidi and Olivier Giroud causing their teammates to look their way. Lloris fondly shook his head at the little group before starting on his stretches.

Benzema shook his head. “On a serious note though, what is he doing here?”

“Coaching you,” The foursome jumped not noticing that their new coach had jogged up beside them. “You ladies caught up good as yet?”

Giroud handsomely grinned.

“Not going to work on me, Giroud. I am immune.” The new coach looked at his watch. “I don’t like losing. If you lose me the first game, I am not going to spare any of you.”

The little gang gulped and broke up as they continue their laps in respective silence. This coach might be young, but he definitely didn’t take the job to have fun.

NOTES:

If my memory serves me well, Paul Pogba was not called up for the Brazil and Denmark friendlies, however, I think he would’ve made a great impression for this fiction from the get-go, hence the reason of his early presence.

REMEMBER, THIS IS FICTION & IT IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH LES BLEUS OR THE FFF.

Posted in Euro 2016 France, Les Bleus

Euro 2016 countdown: 09 days to go: Didier DesCHAMPs

Because you can’t spell Deschamps without CHAMP!

I remember when Didier Deschamps came to replace Laurent Blanc and I was skeptical about his leadership. It was soon laid to rest when I gave him a chance and although we haven’t won anything major with DD, I think he can be a winner for Euro 2016. 

Deschamps has put together a squad of 23 players he expects to play, live, breathe and be kind to each other during the tournament. He expects no fights and other embarrassing episodes à la Benzema and Valbuena. I stand with DD in terms of us having a great tournament and I hope the ungrateful French fans stand with him too.

Show them what you’re made of this tournament and put the doubts to rest. Allez DD!

Posted in Les Bleus, My Footy Stuff/Banter

The problem with Benzema and Ben Arfa has nothing to do with ethnicity

Eric Cantona recently made a statement indicating that Didier Deschamps is racist towards Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa because of their origins.

Cantona can rival Zlatan in terms of big headed egos and silly remarks (“I am not a man. I am Cantona.”), but Cantona needs to know when to shut his mouth. He and Didier have a long history of animosity and he feels the need to come out now and make smart remarks.

“Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.

“So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after Valls said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.”

I am also allowed to think that this statement is downright stupid and racially motivated. What does Deschamps having a really French name have to do with anything? What does Deschamps having a very French name  have to do with his family not mixing with anyone outside of French? The coach has been under pressure, not only from Prime Minister Valls, but from many fans who feel that Benzema shouldn’t represent France in the Euro, given that scandals seem to rock the French boat whenever a major tournament is around the corner.

As a fan of Les Bleus, I was not looking forward to Benzema’s inclusion on the team. Nor was I looking forward to Valbuena’s. Deschamps was right not to include both players given their involvement in a blackmail scandal. We can’t have this mess following and plaguing us during the tournament. Some fans might take it upon themselves to rain abuse on both players if they decide not to get along and affect the synching chemistry of the team. As for Ben Arfa, he can be a liability in the dressing room at times, but I think he has changed some and we can only thank OGC Nice for this. Merci Claude Puel. However, DD is not messing around by taking chances. The man is doing everything possible in his power to prevent a mutiny situation like 2010.

Omitting Benzema and Ben Arfa has nothing to do with their background.

Concerning the team, I don’t see everyone wearing a French surname. Our team is simply beautiful because of their diverse background. Even if we’re perhaps the only European team to field a first of all African descendants, we’re still beautiful.

Deschamps’ lawyer is contemplating suing Cantona for his out of timing remarks, but if I were Deschamps, I’ll let my team talk on the pitch. Cantona can take his arrogance and shove it. Don’t let the race card win.

Marcel Desailly et Deschamps