Apparently Laurent Blanc, the new manager of the French international football team, wants to appoint Bacary Sagna as the captain of the team. Now, I am a big Bacary Sagna fan, in fact I consider him to be only one of three players from the current team who would break into, or at least come close, to the great Arsenal invincible side (the other two are Robin Van Persie and, of course ,Cesc Fabregas) but France captain? I don’t know. Isn’t he only 3rd vice captain at Arsenal? Obviously behind Van Persie and Fabregas and presumably even Vermaelen too. Now that I think of it Clichy might even be ahead of him. It’s not that I don’t want Sagna to be the captain of France, it will scarcely affect us at Arsenal, it does, however, just make me wonder how bad this French team is. Since Wenger has taken over how bad the French team is, and how they fare, usually reflects our own success and achievements. It is no different now.
Concerning the captaincy? Sure, Ribery isn’t an option because of the ongoing court case concerning his alleged under-age sex with a prostitute. The same for Benzema, although his form hardly makes him an option anyway. Ok, even Evra and Toulalan can’t be considered as both were the ringleaders of the typically French coup at the 2010 World Cup. Anelka, 11 match suspension, isn’t an option. Hmm, perhaps there is really a dearth of talented options for the role.
This thought, in turn, makes me wonder if being a current French international actually qualifies you to be called a good player. It once used to be the case that if you had represented France, especially if you were a squad regular, there would be little scepticism about your talent on the big stage. Some players, like Stephane Guivarch, might not have set the English Premiership alight but back on the continent there was little doubt about their talent. Now, that’s not the case. The world and the French doubt the French national team and the qualities of its individual parts. That might not appear of concern, and definitely not of worry, until we realise that a large part of the current French squad is made up of Arsenal players. Like the French public are waiting for the national players to prove their merits, we too are waiting for many of these Arsenal players to prove their winning credentials.
The French are sceptical about the entire squad but if we focus on our players we realise their concerns mirror our own. Gael Clichy is not considered good enough to replace Patrice Evra in the first team, which is symbolic of our inability to usurp Manchester United. Bacary Sagna is recognised by the French as the best right back they can choose but nowhere near the level of Lillian Thuram or Willy Sagnol. They see him as good but not great. A familiar situation at Arsenal. Abou Diaby, seen as the future partner of Yoann Gourcuff in central midfield, is considered technically sound but doubts persist about his ability to impose himself on the biggest stage. Another familiar Arsenal problem. Samir Nasri is acknowledged for his ability on the ball but questioned for his tenacity off of it. Heard that before too? Sebastien Squillaci is one of several centre backs the French keep mixing and choosing from. The reason they mix and choose is not because there is an abundance of talent but because none are good enough to cement a place of their own. Laurent Koscielny has as much as pleaded for a call up, publicly rejecting the opportunity to play for Poland and intimating his desire to represent France, but has not yet been considered by Blanc because he has hardly any experience at the top level (he has only played 35 games in the top tier of French football, Ligue 1, and only 2 in the Premiership). So, inexperience then. As an Arsenal fan I have heard that before too.
The futures of France and Arsenal are entwined. All the accusations the French public have against their national team we share with regards to our own club too. Sagna might just be the new French captain, or he might not for that matter, but the development of the French international football team over the next two or three years should to a large extent mirror that of ours. The French public, cynical by reputation, aren’t too hopeful. Why are we?