Speaking for the first time as France coach, Laurent Blanc said he was "proud and happy" to take up his new role but was quick to concede that a major overhaul of the national side was his immediate priority.
The former international centre-back was officially unveiled as Raymond Domenech's successor last week to become the 16th man to lead Les Bleus. In an address at the French Football Federation (FFF) headquarters in Paris, Blanc revealed his delight in taking on the task. "I'm happy and proud to be here today," the 44-year-old said. "For me, the France job is above all others. I had the opportunity to go elsewhere, but this challenge excited me immediately. The team's recent problems did not change this feeling."
Those "recent problems" refer to France's disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign when they were dumped out of the group stage amid well-publicised discord in the camp. "I have been as affected as anyone by what I saw," said Blanc, who won the 1998 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 during his 97-cap career. "I think the interest of individuals overtook that of the squad and for me this was the worst part."
The ex-FC Girondins de Bordeaux boss is ready to wipe the slate clean, but not until he examines the reasons behind the team's shortcomings. "The past has no future and we must now move forward," he said, "but I'll take into account everything that happened in South Africa in my analysis and reflections. My first task will be to establish a core group of players which I don't think exists at the moment."
Blanc will take his place on the France bench for the first time in an 11 August friendly in Norway before Les Bleus commence UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying on 3 September against Belarus in Paris.
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