posted on October 09, 2009 19:00
We're down to the final World Cup qualifiers and you in Ireland are wondering if we can pip Italy for the automatic place in South Africa. Italy blowing their run-in isn't too fanciful - France had a famous last-furlong collapse in their final two games to reach USA '94. Needing only one point from two home matches, Gerard Houllier's side conceded dramatic late winners to both Israel and Bulgaria, thus missing the finals.
If the Irish end up in the play-offs, we could be drawn to play France, who are also likely to finish group runners-up. Serbia seem to have the top spot secure, and a win for les bleus against Brian Kerr's much-improved Faroe Islands tonight in the Breton town of Guingamp would secure a play-off with top seeding.
Your correspondent was at the Stade de France for the home team's recent game against Romania, which finished 1-1. France couldn't muster up any spirit or fire to seriously test their lightweight visitors, and most French fans were appalled at their side's insipid performance. The wisdom of the crowd held one man to blame: coach Raymond Domenech. The chant 'Domenech, démissione!' ('Domenech, resign!') could be heard by the TV audience.
In an extraordinary achievement, Domenech (right) has managed to make himself more hated than Nicolas Sarkozy. Such is his unpopularity that his image is no longer shown on the big screen at the Stade de France during games, to avoid provoking a cacophony of boos and jeers. By turns arrogant and ingratiating in press conferences, the former Bordeaux and PSG midfielder combines personal unlikeability with professional incompetence. His belief in astrology resulted in Robert Pires and David Trezeguet being frozen out of the national squad for the heinous crime of having the wrong star signs. On being interviewed live post-match after France were easily knocked out of Euro 2008, his first reaction was to propose marriage to the show's presenter back in studio - his partner, journalist Estelle Denis. And France's march to the 2006 World Cup Final is credited to Zinedine Zidane, who is believed to have staged an internal coup to take over team affairs following a poor start.
But now, in this crucial last week of qualifiers, Domenech has found a rather improbable ally.
Step forward Catherine Ringer, pronounced 'ran-jey', singer with colourful '80s pop duo Les Rita Mitsouko. (Her creative and romantic partner in the group, Fred Chichin, died two years ago.) Ringer has written and recorded a song of support for the much-abused Domenech. It's called 'Je Kiffe Raymond', a slang way of saying 'I love Raymond', and apparently it's sincere on her part.
There's nothing special about the tune, a whimsical little ditty that would attract no attention were it not for the subject. The lyrics are fairly tame too: "I love Raymond/Not bad, this guy!/He has the effect on me of a really handsome guy, this Domenech/A great look/he doesn't give a damn what people say about him..." And so forth.
The song is available on Ringer's website to download, though goodness knows why. You can listen to it below while staring at a photo of this unlikely pairing. It's been a long way down since 'Marcia Baila':