Corinne Diacre from France is not interested in your opinion

ROTHERHAM, England. Corinne Diacre punched the air, allowed herself a fleeting smile of satisfaction, and then spun on her heels. She managed to dodge the first pair of staff rushing past her to join the celebrations on the pitch after France’s quarter-final victory, but Gilles Fouche blocked her path.

Foische, France’s assistant goalkeeping coach, is not an easy-to-avoid obstacle: broad-shouldered, shaven-headed and with the air of a good-natured bouncer. Diacre, a formidable centre-back in his playing days, quickly realized there was no other way. Fuash gave her manager a brief bear hug and then sent him off as well.

As soon as she did so, her smile disappeared. She found her Dutch counterpart, said a few words of congratulations and condolences, and then went to her players. A handful received a pat on the back. Others were offered only immediate performance feedback. She came to Euro 2022 on business, not for pleasure.

By some standards, that win against the Netherlands last weekend was enough to make sure Deacon got the job done. Previously, France had never made it out of a European Championship quarter-final; Eva Perisse’s extra-time penalty finally ended the coven.

Deacon, however, arrived in England with slightly higher expectations, as did her country. After all, France is home to two of the most influential women’s football clubs: reigning European champions Lyon and great rivals Paris Saint-Germain. Diacre had an unmatched set of talents to build a team from.

It made sense for her and for French football to declare reaching the final as the team’s “stated goal”. On Wednesday evening, he was unable to meet him. France could only narrowly lose 2–1 to Germany in their semi-final in Milton Keynes, England but lost nonetheless. And this, unfortunately, causes problems for Deacon.

A couple of weeks after Diacre, 47, and her players arrived in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the small town in the Leicestershire countryside where the French national team had taken up residence for the tournament, she chose a venue with a distinctly French name. apparently by accident – a journalist from a French magazine contacted the team’s press officer and asked why, so far, no local youth team had been invited to practice.

Such outreach initiatives are a staple of major tournaments, a fairly simple PR stunt to thank the community for their hospitality. France, by contrast, did not make contact with the amateur teams in Ashby. The journalist was told that the team did not come to England to make friends.

This is a narrow vision, characteristic of Deacon’s management style. In the media, she oscillates between aloofness and bluntness despite employing a public relations “teacher”; she admitted that communication is not her forte. She does not hide the fact that she does not like the public aspects of her work.

With her players, she also did not always have the most favorable relationship. One of her first steps after taking charge of her country’s national team five years ago was to strip Wendy Renard, France’s totem defender, of the captain’s armband.

Since then, she has managed to alienate many players from Lyon, the country’s dominant women’s team, to the point where goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi said she created a “very, very negative atmosphere”. Buhaddi subsequently stated that she would not play for her country as long as Deacon was in power.

Another veteran, Gaetan Tiney, was expelled for criticizing Diacre’s tactics, while a third, Amandine Henry, was expelled after she described the French team during the 2019 World Cup as “complete and utter chaos.” The call during which Deacon broke the news lasted, according to Henry, “14 or 15 seconds; I will remember this for the rest of my life.” Even more remarkable was that Henry inherited the captaincy from Renard; her exile meant that Renard was reinstated.

However, Diakra’s biggest gamble may have been her line-up for this tournament. Diacre no longer had either Heira Hamraoui or Aminata Diallo, the heritage assault scandal it roiled French football for most of last year, but she also opted to skip Henri and Eugénie Le Sommer, France’s top scoring team.

The manager defended the moves, citing the need to protect and maintain the “mentality” of her squad. The first results bored her. In the month that France spent in England, there was no sign that the club’s enemies were poisoning the atmosphere among the players. The old gulf between the Lyons and the Parisians seemed to have evaporated.

Also, Diacre didn’t have the perfect quality players to replace them. The depth of talent in her team was such that she could juggle her team in each of the first four games of the tournament in France without any apparent drop in quality.

The problem, however, was that these calls turned Deacon into a martyr of the result. If France had lived up to their hopes and made it to Sunday’s final against England, they would have been acquitted; leaving Henry and Le Sommer at home would have been a masterstroke, proof of her bold conviction.

Being France didn’t mean it was almost impossible not to wonder if the outcome could have been different if two key players in the best club team in the women’s game were on the pitch, or even on the bench, available for an emergency call.

In truth, the line between these realities is thin and blurry. It all depends on the moment, the moment: did France remain attentive when Svenja Hut picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty areainstead of assuming he was out of the game, then perhaps he would still be in the tournament and Deacon’s call would have paid off.

However, this deal was made by a manager who made it clear that the criterion for success and failure was what she did, not how she did it. France came to Euro 2022 with a specific destination. Now that he has failed, he cannot claim the merit of the journey.