PARIS: As the dust settled on France's Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat at the hands of defending champions Spain, attention has turned to whether Laurent Blanc will remain as coach.
The 46-year-old -- known as 'the President' from his playing days as part of the successful France side that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 -- is out of contract.
This has alerted some leading clubs, including English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, whose chairman Daniel Levy is a known admirer of Blanc and wishes to talk to him, according to several English newspapers.
However, the impression given in the French media is that Blanc -- who made his name as a coach guiding Bordeaux to a 2009 domestic double -- wants to continue rebuilding the side he inherited from the 2010 World Cup debacle.
There is a general enthusiasm for Blanc to be offered a new contract by French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.
But some suggested that Le Graet -- not a known admirer of Blanc's -- will insert some clauses that could make it difficult for the coach to accept.
"Deep down Le Graet was never Blanc's biggest fan," wrote sports daily L'Equipe. "Hence he has not appreciated the sometimes frivolous attitude that Blanc has adopted towards him.
"Two years after (he took the job) the coach is not in the same position as he was when he held talks with Frederic Duchaussoy (the caretaker president at the time after the fallout from the 2010 World Cup).
"It appears fanciful to imagine that Le Graet will allow Jean-Pierre Bernes, Blanc's agent and several players in the squad, as prominent a role in the negotiations as was the case in 2010."
L'Equipe assessed that the stakes are extremely high for both men, with Blanc standing to lose his position in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Le Graet left with the difficulty of finding any coach with a similar standing.
Unlike in 2008, when France failed to make it past the group stages and Domenech was ridiculed for proposing to his girlfriend rather than giving his reaction to the team's performances, the situation is more complex, the newspaper added.
"The overall verdict less brutal against him (Blanc)," the sports daily said, praising him for his perseverance with Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema.
Le Parisien, though, criticised him for all but abandoning Benzema in his strategic planning for the games, hence his return of no goals, because both players played with heart and did not sulk like some others.
Like most of the French press, the newspapers faulted Blanc for his misplaced faith in recalling Hatem Ben Arfa from the international wilderness and most of all his loyalty to Samir Nasri.
Nasri, who like Benzema was left out of the 2010 World Cup squad by Domenech because he thought they would be disruptive influences, is held up as the biggest mistake made by Blanc, apart from his defensive selection for the Spain game.
"Blanc made an error: he believed he had an ally when the only ally of Samir Nasri is only Samir Nasri himself.
"He continued to place his confidence in him when it was clear that the former Marseille player slowed the pace of the game down too much, which really agitated his teammates and the player was also incapable of taking any criticism.
"By acting this way Blanc lost the confidence of part of the dressing room which he was unable to get back."
L'Equipe said the ultimate question for Le Graet now is whether Blanc is capable of changing a little and also of being honest and holding his hands up when it comes to decisions he made that went awry. AFP