From Richard’s earlier article from August 10th:
A fresh start would have been nice, and there could have been no better moment. Laurent Blanc knew an opportunity when he saw one, and decided to “suspend” France’s entire World Cup squad for his first match as head coach. Fabio Capello, by contrast, has merely reassembled the remnants of his Rustenburg rabble for what amounts to a lap of dishonour.
Blanc’s action left no one in any doubt that for him this represents the start of a new era in which younger, fresher faces will be given the chance to make an impact. The French public will not mind if they are beaten by Norway in Oslo tomorrow as long as the performance shows commitment and promise, just as the 60,000 or so who will turn up at Wembley would not have minded an indifferent result against Hungary if they felt they were being shown some sort of vision of the future.
September 4th: Blanc selects “a young and largely untested team” and France lose their first qualifier 1-0 at home to Belarus. The players are booed from the pitch and the French media sharpens the knives. This is of course not mentioned in Richard’s article about England’s 4-0 victory over Bulgaria, which instead focused on England’s “familiar failings”.