You may find it surprising that for my first contribution to this blog, I will be writing about the retirement of a player. This was one of the stories this week which caught my eye, and no, it isn’t Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink. It is another player who in his prime, was one of the foremost playmakers in Europe and won great renown in his native country and then in Germany. It is Johan Micoud.
Micoud isn’t a player whose name jumps off the page at you. That I can agree. However, for many the football connoisseur; Micoud was a luxury, a Ferrero Rocher player whose vision, technical skill and expertise from a dead-ball situation, meant he was always a danger to the opposition and player who always seemed to be a fans’ favourite. His career started with a very successful spell at Bordeaux, in which he helped them win the League, then on to a more difficult period at Parma. The best football of his career however was with Werder Bremen. He was the main man, the dogs bollocks, the creative force behind the team. His great influence was one of the main reasons behind their double success in 2004, the first in the teams’ history. His play earned him glowing reviews and interest from several top European clubs including Liverpool and Bayern Munich. They were probably deterred by the nineteen million pound asking fee.
For all his club success however, at international level he was stifled. This was down partly to the fact that his position was taken up by the best player in the last twenty years, Zinedine Zidane. It was also down to the madness that is Raymond Domenech. Micoud’s contempt for Domenech was apparent after being left out of a friendly against Slovakia. He called him ‘a blind man’ and said that ‘maybe I am not in the squad because my star sign is Leo, and there are too many in the French team.’
This would not be surprising considering Domenech is a grade A twat. He is a man whose management style is baffling, consulting the stars before selecting his team and insistence to play Pascal Chimbonda at any opportunity. Many might say, ‘he made a World Cup Final, surely that is enough?’ No it bloody well isn’t, especially considering their display in the European Championships. Totally shit is a phrase I would use. Austria played better football than France in that tournament. He did have a tough group, but his tactical naivety was apparent when he played two holding midfielders against the weakest team in the group, Romania; a team France should be beating with the players at their disposal. France should have been beaten but for a Mutu missed penalty. They were literally the most boring team I have seen ever at a major championship. They even wheeled out Claude Makelele for a few games. In the end, I don’t care. He can destroy French football if he wants. The French FA has kept him on as manager saying his, ‘results were not catastrophic’; they went on to lose against Austria, but kept him on anyway.
At 35, Micoud has retired after not being given a contract by Bordeaux after his return to the club from Bremen. It is sad to see a fine player and an honest professional retire, Raymond on the other hand, can piss off gladly. It would do French football the world of good.