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French football heralds new era under Blanc

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Update: 2010-07-01 21:31:29

PARIS: France`s World Cup and European Championship winning defender Laurent Blanc was officially named national team coach on Friday, announced outgoing French Football Federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes.

The 44-year-old, who cut his teeth for the job in coaching Bordeaux to the 2009 league title, replaces Raymond Domenech, who stepped down after France`s catastrophic World Cup finals campaign, though, he had already said he would not stay on in the post in any case.

"It is the good news of the morning," said 75-year-old Escalettes, who also stood down from his position in the fallout from the chaotic events surrounding France`s first round exit in South Africa.

"The France team will continue under the leadership of Laurent Blanc, who will have an extremely pugnacious sporting project with the will to `win` and in order to put the French team back on the rails in both a sporting and a moral point of view.

"It is imperative to take account of the mistakes of the past and ensure these do not repeat themselves," added Escalettes, who was speaking after the opening session of the General Council meeting where he is also formally presenting his resignation.

Blanc, who numbered Manchester United, Marseille and Inter Milan among the clubs he played for, will be assisted by his number two at Bordeaux Jean-Louis Gasset.

The appointment of Blanc, capped 97 times but who missed the 1998 World Cup final victory over Brazil because he was suspended, is no surprise announcement as he had already agreed a two year contract prior to the World Cup.

Blanc, who is relatively inexperienced for the post and is also a rarity as he comes from outside the cloistered environment of the National Technical Directorate (DTN), also won the 2009 League Cup with Bordeaux and guided the French giants to two Champions League campaigns.

However, last season was a sobering one for Blanc as on course at one point for all the domestic trophies and an outside chance of the Champions League - where they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Lyon - they ended up with nothing.

There were also rumours of growing dressing-room dissent at Bordeaux as the season wore on.

BDST: 1818hrs, July 2, 2010

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