Divided French hope Evra can restore unity to beleaguered squad

It did not quite match Eric Cantona's line about journalists being like seagulls following a trawler but it summed up Raymond Domenech's reign. The France manager was reminded by a Chinese reporter of his saying that if you dropped a frog in boiling water it would jump out; but if you placed it in cold water and gradually turned up the heat, it would boil to death. "How warm is the water for you?" came the question.

Should France lose to Uruguay tonight, it will be scalding. There is a France team in Cape Town that looks organised, motivated and efficient but it is heading to Newlands to take on the Springboks at rugby. The ones with the round ball who will be running out at Green Point this evening are another matter. Franck Ribéry is not speaking to Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas is not talking to the press and while Domenech has talked to his senior players, he has not acceded to their demand to restore Thierry Henry to the starting line-up.

Such has been the derision heaped on a man whose last tournament press conference ended with him proposing to his girlfriend after being knocked out of Euro 2008, that it is easy to forget that four years ago in Berlin he took France to within a penalty shootout of the World Cup. "I may appear calm but inwardly there is a storm going on," he said when describing a warm-up campaign that culminated in a stammering 1-1 draw to Tunisia and a 1-0 defeat to China. "I don't think we are calm but I hope we are determined and ready."

France, fresh from their £450-a-night rooms by the Indian Ocean, did not train at Green Point, a move that smacked to some of arrogance. But when asked to explain why, Domenech retreated into the language of the great German manager Sepp Herberger, who remarked: "The ball is round, a game lasts 90 minutes; everything else is theory."

"I have taken a look at the pitch," Domenech said. "And everything appears in order. The lines are in the right place and the field of play is still a rectangle that can accommodate 11 players."

Whether in politics or sport, it is a given that the more disunited an organisation, the greater the public appeals for unity and there were plenty as they prepared for Uruguay, mostly surrounding Patrice Evra, who will captain France tonight. "Pat is a natural leader," said Bacary Sagna. "I have seen him gee up his players at Manchester United. He has been exactly the same here. He is desperate to set an example. If you are not playing well, he is straight with you; he tells you to your face." A quality Domenech appears sometimes to have lacked, particularly when failing to inform Patrick Vieira he was no longer part of his plans.

However, Uruguay are a team who since reaching the semi-finals in 1970 have managed one win in 14 fixtures at World Cup tournaments. In contrast to France, their preparations have been smooth but this is the first World Cup where Twitter is a tool and no organisational inefficiency can be disguised.

As they were told that the plane that was to carry the Uruguay squad from its base at Kimberley to the Cape had been delayed with mechanical trouble, Diego Forlan reached for his Blackberry. "It's incredible that that this is happening on the eve of the World Cup and they can't offer us a replacement aircraft," he tweeted. "Would France be treated like this?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent