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Is Naughty Nic Entirely To Blame?

So, with more drama surrounding him than a double episode of Eastenders, Nicolas Anelka has been sent home from the World Cup in shame.

As we all know (because it’s been splashed across every headline from here to Outer Mongolia already), the Chelsea front man got a bit arsey with Domenech questioning his performance during the first half of France’s 2-0 defeat to Mexico on Thursday. Unfortunately though, Anelka’s displeasure played itself out with him making inappropriate remarks about his manager’s mother in the French dressing room.

I suppose once it became public, the French Football Federation had little choice but to send him home in disgrace, with FFF vice president Noel Le Graet confirming “The decision has been taken. It was perfectly normal to do it today, it couldn’t have been done any other way. I find it unbelievable, because if anyone has protected Anelka, it has been Domenech. Domenech has played Anelka throughout the past two years. There are of course differences of opinion surrounding tactics and positioning, but it merits friendlier conversations.”

It goes without saying there’ll be plenty of opinions on this one and one of the first to do this in the press is Anelka’s team-mate Patrice Evra, who although clearly stating Anelka’s comments were “unacceptable”, seems a bit more concerned with how they got into the press in the first place.

The United defender, who is reported to have intervened at the time, says “(It) came from someone in this group, who wishes the French team harm. The problem isn’t Anelka, it’s the traitor among us, you have to say it. How can this come out? We must eliminate the traitor from the group, because he wants to hurt the team.  There is no little mouse in the locker room, this comes from someone who is on the team and wants to hurt the team.   We are not going to lie, the reporter (from L’Equipe) did not make this up.  I do not know anything (about this person), I am not a magician.”

Shame really because it looks as if Anelka could do with a bit of the Paul Daniels to make this one disappear. Mind you, Anelka – who clearly hasn’t calmed down yet – also seems a bit more concerned with the ‘grass’ than what he actually said, with the (former) French striker stating “I indeed had a heated conversation with the coach, but it happened within the confines of the changing rooms, between the coach and me, in front of my teammates and the staff. That should never have come out of the changing rooms. I don’t know who can benefit from that, but repeating these kind of things certainly doesn’t help (the team). My aim was never to destabilise the French team, an institution I respect. I accept my exclusion from the France team and I wish them good luck. I have a lot of respect for the France team, I equally have a lot of respect for all of my teammates without exception, I insist on that point.”

Not taking anything away from what Anelka has done – because to be honest, if he did the same in the Chelsea dressing room, I wouldn’t want him at the club anymore – it has to be said the French World Cup campaign so far has all been a bit dodgy to say the least. Domenech started the campaign leaving Malouda on the bench for personal reasons, which undoubtedly bit him on the arse.

So there’s been rumblings there from the start and maybe a full-blown row was inevitable? And whilst Anelka (or any player come to that) has to be able to take constructive criticism, you do have to wonder what exactly it was Domenech said because Nicolas Anelka may well have been a bad tempered prima donna in the past but we’ve seen nothing like that at Chelsea. If anything, since he’s been at Stamford Bridge, Anelka has been pretty passive – despite provocation along the way.

No doubt this one isn’t over yet.



Blue is the colour is an honest insight to the World of Chelsea FC. Not always pretty, sometimes rather cynical, but always realistic.


June 2010
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