Football: Giresse joins Toulouse

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The Independent Online
WITH 13 League games to go, bottom-of-the-table French club Toulouse have turned to Alain Giresse, their former coach , to save them from what appears certain relegation. Giresse, called back on Monday after Toulouse were knocked out of the French Cup by amateurs Jura Sud, has launched an emergency plan to save the side who play Metz on Saturday.

Jacques Rubio, the club's vice-president, said: "We need shock therapy and Giresse is the man who can save us. He was without a contract and we convinced him to come back. He agreed and I think he embodies our last throw of the dice.

Giresse said: "The first thing to do is to understand why things went wrong. This done, I will make the team work my own way. I know what I have to."

Giresse, 46, who replaced Guy Lacombe, can rely on his experience gained in 47 appearances for for France. Originally appointed the Toulouse coach in 1995, he helped the team win promotion to the first division in 1997 before moving to Paris St-Germain last year. Giresse spent only five months at PSG before being replaced by the Portuguese Artur Jorge.

Giresse added: "Coaching is a very tough job, but since I left Paris I didn't know what to do and I'm happy to be back here facing a new challenge. It's going to be hard to avoid relegation, but it's feasible. There are 13 matches to play and we will know a little more after the game against Metz."

Meanwhile, the French striker Cyrille Pouget has failed in his bid to overturn an 18-month drug ban. An tribunal in Rouen, Normandy , upheld the ban, initially handed out by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee and upheld on appeal by the French football federation.

Pouget was banned after traces of the steroid nandrolone were found in a urine sample he gave after playing for Le Havre against Bordeaux in September 1997. Twelve months of the ban were suspended.

The 26-year-old, who has three French caps, has also played for Metz, Servette Geneva and Paris St-Germain. He is the only French footballer to have been suspended for using banned substances.

n Johan Cruyff called off his return to Barcelona to coach an all-star Spanish league selection after hurting his toe. Cruyff was advised by doctors not to travel from the Netherlands after his foot became infected.

The former Barcelona coach had been due to take charge of the Spanish league team in a charity match against his old club. Jose Antonio Camacho, Spain's national team coach, took command of the side, which includes Brazil's Juninho, the French World Cup winner Christian Karembeu and the Argentina international Claudio Lopez.