The FFF decided to fire the WNT's coach Bruno Bini who was looking after the team since 2007 and his replacement by Philippe Bergeroo, former international GK, coach of (men's) PSG and Rennes, and various youth France NT (he won the 2004 European Championship with the U17).
A leaf has been turned and a new era begins. But this era will be very likely with most of the current players, since most of them are young enough to play at 2015 WC and 2016 Olympics (if the team is qualified).
So, what is to be expected from Philippe Bergeroo now ?
Everybody thinks that he doesn't know anything about Women's Football and about French Women players, because he never coached a Women's team before. But who knows ? Maybe he has been following everything for years... Anyway... Let's take as a starting point that he doesn't know "much". What will he do ?
His first test will be a friendly match next september, before going to Kazakhstan. He has the big chance that there is no major tournament before two years (2015 WC) and that even without any coach, France should qualify easily, with all due respects to its opponents, out of the qualification group (Finland, the strongest team, Kazakhstan, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary). That means that he will be able to test several new players without taking many risks, as long as the basis of the team remains strong with some experimented players.
The first thing he'll probably do or should do, is having a word with his predecessor (as a new First Minister or President has with the former, even if they belong to complete opposite sides) and former staff members.The facts that both Bini and Bergeroo affirmed that they are friends won't help the new coach to instantly win some supporter's trust...
Then, a contact with the senior players. I would say (but everyone can put here one's favourite players ;o) : Abily, Nécib, Bussaglia, Renard, Thiney, Georges.
Third thing he should do imho (and I'm quite certain that he'll do it) : have a very close look at the coming U19 Euro. France is one of the legitimate favourites, having been crowned U17 World Champions last year, with more than half of this selection playing this month in Wales. Of course, those girls are 18 years old only and lack of experience. But in two years time, they will be 20. And those two years can be a good opportunity to give them this top international experience, little dose by little dose. But it will be useless if, at the same time, those young and promising players don't become regular starters in their own D1 teams. We saw at the just over Euro that many very young players were there and well there. The Norwegian Hansen, for instance, is only 18 years old and doesn't play for a major club. Germany with about 8 players under 22 showed the way.
Then, Bergeroo will have to call the players for the first friendly game and the first official playoff game. We can imagine that there will be 16 players, or a maximum of 18.
Bergeroo being a former Goal-Keeper, we can expect he will be very attentive to the performances of the candidates. At the Euro whe had Lyon's Sarah Bouhaddi (26 y.o.) [all ages are calculated at the end of 2013], Juvisy' Céline Deville (31) and PSG's Karima Benameur 24). They are clearly amongst the best, but I think that he'll probably watch closely Laetitia Philippe (MHSC, 22), Méline Gérard (Saint-Etienne, 23) and young Solène Durand (MHSC too, 19, and U19 NT's GK) too.
The hierarchy could change. Even if Bouhaddi is always able of tremendous saves, she is also not extremely reliable. The fact that she has almost nothing to do during all the season between Lyon's post is not very helpful.
A surprise for the GK position is not impossible.
In Defense, it's very different if we consider the wings or the central defense.
As for the Central Defense, there are many players who can obviously pretend to play : Wendie Renard (Lyon, 23), Laura Georges (PSG, 29), Sabrina Delannoy (PSG, 27), Kelly Gadéa (MHSC, 21,5), Anaïg Butel (Juvisy, 21), Griedge M'Bock Mbathy (Guingamp, 18). That would leave Ophélie Meilleroux (MHSC, 29) out. As we can see, there are 6 very serious pretenders for 3 to 4 places.
As for the Laterals, it is less crowded. Bini used 4 players (for 2 starters), always the same since Olympics : Corine Franco (Lyon, 30), Laure Boulleau (PSG, 27), Jessica Houara (PSG, 26), Julie Soyer (Juvisy, 28), after the dismissal of Sonia Bompastor who has retired now. Laure Lepailleur (Juvisy, 28) who hasn't played for more than one year, and Sandrine Dusang (Juvisy, 29), often injured in recent past, could be back but that would be a surprise and not a very good sign towards the future. Marion Torrent (MHSC, 21) could be a try.
In Midfield, things are complicated.
France has the - deservedly - reputation to have very top international players, with the consequence that it is very hard for a young or currently out of the NT player to get into the train. Even with Sandrine Soubeyrand's international retirement. The following players are seen as key players by all serious observers : Camille Abily (Lyon, 29), Louisa Nécib (Lyon, 27), Elise Bussaglia (Lyon, 28), Gaëtane Thiney (Juvisy, 28), Amandine Henry (Lyon, 24).
There are many young players (let's say between 18 and 22) who are already good enough to hope they can have the international level in the future, and also some a little older, from Rose Lavaud (Saint-Etienne, 21) to Sandie Toletti (MHSC, 18), including for instance Aurélie Kaci (PSG, 23,5), Marina Makanza (MHSC, 22), Kheira Hamraoui (PSG, 23 ), Claire Lavogez (MHSC, 19), Melissa Plaza (Lyon, 25), Ghouta Karchouni (PSG, 18)...
I'm afraid that most of them have to wait the 2019 WC to be fully integrated, particularly if the 2017 Euro takes place in France. I can't imagine the current players retiring after the Olympics and voluntary missing a Euro at home... unless of course their level of playing at international level dramatically dropped... And, once more, those young players must become inevitable with their club-team.
Everybody in the whole wild world of Women's football (the 4x WF) knows that scoring the millions of opportunities created by the team is THE most important problem for Les Bleues. Is it a "simple" question of who plays ? Of tactical choice ? Of mental ? Of D1's level (not balanced enough) ? Probably a little of all of this, and certainly other things in addition. And Philippe Bergeroo will have to find the solution(s) quickly, and likely with the players at disposition. Because the "reserve" is not very important.
Should remained, very likely : Marie-Laure Delie (PSG, 25), who has the best ratio goals scored/games played in the world after Marta, Elodie Thomis (Lyon, 27), Eugénie Le Sommer (24), Camille Catala (22) who has been regularly used as a MF with the NT but is basically a forward. The new comer Viviane Asseyi (MHSC, 20) should be tried. Sandrine Brétigny (Juvisy, 29) who is back in France, could have a real second chance with Les Bleues. It is less sure for Laetitia Tonazzi (Lyon, 33) who is not a regular starter with Lyon where she is clearly Lotta Schelin's sub, and who will be more than 34 in Canada. Kenza Dali (PSG, 22) is not far from Les Bleues and could benefit from PSG playing the CL this season...
Amongst the young players, Laura Bouillot (21), last season's revelation in D1, could have her chance... if she finds a new team, since she has just been sacked from her club, Yzeure. U19 international Kadidiatou Diani (Juvisy, 18) could find her way quickly, but she has to become a regular starter with her club. Other U19 are very promising, as Léa Declercq (PSG, 18), Alexandra Atamaniuk (Saint-Etienne, 18), Clarisse Le Bihan (Guingamp, 18) or Pauline Cousin (Hénin-Beaumont, 18), but they are maybe still a little tender.
So, there is nothing to be afraid about the number of quality players in France. But to integrate new ones (often very young) when the current ones are still legitimate for the big majority, won't be an easy task...
And, of course, Philippe Bergeroo will have to establish a clear playing scheme.......
Welcome and good luck, Philippe Bergeroo !
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