for Corinne Deacon, a mission half accomplished


By reaching the “last four”, but not Wembley, Corinne Deacon met the expectations of her Federation but not hers, during a Euro where the coach passed a sporting milestone to the Blue without managing to completely soften the image sometimes divisive that it returns.

Noël Le Graët has the principle of setting the same objective for all his selections: the semi-finals, at a minimum. The president of the French Football Federation was no exception to the rule for this European Women’s Championship, postponed for a year due to Covid-19.

Better, he had even reinforced Deacon, whose contract expires, even before the opening match. It will “surely be renewed” at least until the 2023 World Cup, he announced on France 2.

“Not always judged at its fair value”, Deacon “deserves the confidence of the Federation”, he insisted to AFP just before the initial festival against Italy (5-1). While retro-pedaling slightly: “Whatever the contract, as long as it is not signed it is never done”.

The former captain of the Blue, soon 48, did not extend Wednesday after the 2-1 defeat against Germany. “The group is in place. We will see what the president decides. We will discuss it in the coming days,” she said on Canal+.

She had for her part clearly targeted Wembley, place of the final on Sunday, convinced of finally being able to offer France a first international title. She did not succeed, three years after the quarter of the World Cup-2019 lost at home against the United States.

– Distance –

The French, ranked among the favorites, still managed to go beyond the quarterfinals in a major tournament, on which they had been stumbling for a decade. This will necessarily take the pressure off the current team, bombarded with questions before the liberating victory against the Netherlands (1-0 ap).

Off the field, on the other hand, Deacon has not succeeded in getting rid of the distant, and sometimes brittle, image that has stuck with him since the start of his mandate in 2017, often responding sideways, superficially or even misleading to journalists.

“You know me, but you insist every time. What do you want to hear?” she replied to a journalist on Tuesday. “I have my team in mind and it will remain in my head,” she cut short before the quarters.

With the press, the thaw that began this season fizzled out, despite the openness displayed by the former Soyaux player before the Euro. “My relations with the media are different, much more fluid on both sides. There has also been an evolution on the part of journalists,” she told AFP in May.

– “Revenge”, according to Gastien –

Rarely, and never publicly, does the technician acknowledge having been touched by the media treatment to which she has been subjected, judging it caricatural, excessive and deployed with a freedom that the press would not allow towards a male trainer.

“I think she opened up a bit more but she also took a lot of beatings. I don’t think there were a lot of people who wouldn’t have closed in on her situation at some point,” says Pascal Gastien, the coach of Clermont, who took over from Deacon (2014-2017) on the Auvergne bench.

Reach the Euro semi-final? “From the outside, I think it’s revenge,” he told AFP of this “charming woman, an intelligent, cultured person, with whom you can talk about everything” and with who he has kept “excellent relations” since their joint training for the Professional Football Coaching Certificate (BEPF).

Internally, Deacon has in any case apparently managed to appease his locker room, seriously shaken in 2020 by the publicized clash with Amandine Henry, his former captain. The non-selection for the Euro of Eugénie Le Sommer, top scorer in the history of the Blue, was also quickly forgotten in view of the offensive talents aligned.

The disappointment passed, she will surely be able to project herself with more serenity towards Australia and New Zealand, lands of reception of the next World Cup next summer. Les Bleues will be there, once again, eagerly awaited.

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