Dunne criticises Domenech ahead of play-off
Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne has launched a blistering attack on France coach Raymond Domenech ahead of their crunch World Cup qualification play-off while his own coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, called for calm on the pitch in Saturday's first leg.
Dunne said Domenech is the latest in a string of managers to be "messing up'' the talented France team, and suggested that France's fans and even their players were not behind their boss ahead of the qualifiers in Dublin and then Paris on Wednesday.
"Every time a tournament comes round, they [France] have all these world-class players and then a man who seems intent on messing them up,'' Dunne said in the Guardian.
"Over the last World Cups and European Championships, things have not run smoothly for France; they've always got through but maybe it's time that we put a stop to that. And we know that if we can get in front, they probably have not got the man at the top to pull them back around.
"It [Domenech's management] could be a weakness or it could be a big smokescreen; France have played really well in their last few games. But if we can get on top of them and try to turn the game into a battle, we feel we have the stronger personalities.''
Domenech isn't a popular figure in France, a fact that was borne out this week when he took his players to the Paris Masters tennis tournament, and was booed by the crowd once recognised.
"You can see the reaction of the people at the tennis, when they put his face on the big screen,'' Dunne said. "The whole place just booed him and his own players laughed at him.''
Dunne's outburst seems to fly in the face of the words of Trapattoni, who urged his players to hold their nerve and avoid distractions if they are to overcome what he sees as a more creative unit that his Republic of Ireland squad. Trapattoni may have been talking about what he expects on the pitch, rather than off it, but it's unclear whether he'll appreciate Dunne's round-about compliments at Domenech's expense.
"Sure, we are conscious this is not an easy game but it's important to not to make little silly mistakes. If possible, we should not concede a goal at home because it's a great advantage for your opponent to have a goal in this (two-legged) play-off," Trapattoni told the Irish FA website.
"Nerve is very, very important in these games. We must remain calm in every little situation because silly mistakes or distractions can cost you a goal. France achieved second place in the group like us and we were one of only five unbeaten teams. We have a few creative players - maybe France have more and other teams have more still.
"But football is concrete. We are not a theatre, La Scala or Madison Square Garden - it is football. Football is ball, pitch, opponent and mentality - that's football. Results are results, a show is a show and results are different to the show. That's our belief. We need to play with the same attitude, the same mentality but we also need to have something more than we have done until now."
One of Trapattoni's more creative weapons is winger Damien Duff, who is available after recent injury troubles with club side Fulham.
"Damien Duff is Damien Duff," said Trapattoni when questioned on the winger's abilities. "People speak about the big French players but we also have great players, for example Duff and Robbie Keane. Kevin Doyle also - for Wolves against Arsenal (last Saturday), he played well against William Gallas (of France)."