France captain Thierry Henry denied having harshly criticised Raymond Domenech’s methods during a training session, and gave his support to the under-fire coach.
Henry, France’s all-time top scorer, spoke a few hours after Le Parisien newspaper reported that the striker had a feud with Domenech on the eve of last week’s 1-1 home draw against Romania.
According to the newspaper, the Barcelona forward lashed out at Domenech in the presence of his teammates before last Friday’s training. Without giving any source, Le Parisien said Henry accused Domenech of being unable to create a team identity.
“Nothing happened on Friday night,” Henry said. “We had the kind of talk can happen between a coach and his group. It was just a talk.”
Henry denied having cast a doubt on Domenech’s “qualities” but refused to give any details of the conversation.
“Unfortunately it has been distorted,” Henry added. “We had a talk that was constructive for the team. Contrary to what some people have said, there was no clash at all.”
According to Le Parisien, Henry told Domenech that the team players were “bored at training.”
“It has been 12 years that I’m a member of the France team and this is the first time I’m in such a situation,” Henry was quoted as having said. “We don’t know how to play, how to organise ourselves (in the field). We don’t know what to do. We don’t have a style of play, we have no idea or identity. Things are not going well.”
Domenech said he was pleased with the atmosphere within his team ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Serbia.
“The atmosphere is great,” Domenech said in a video posted on the French football federation website. “With all the discussions and the debates we have, we manage to create an exceptional atmosphere.”
Domenech and Henry are scheduled to appear at news conferences on Tuesday in Belgrade, where France will play against Serbia on Wednesday. France is second in Group 7, trailing leader Serbia by four points. The French need to win to stay in contention for first place.
Serbia’s last two games are Romania at home and Lithuania away, while France hosts Austria and the Faeroe Islands.
“At the end of the day, this match in Belgrade is not decisive,” Domenech said. “We can win, lose or draw, it will not change radically the remainder of the competition. We will still have two more games to play, so we have a chance.”
Domenech was also adamant his players will be unfazed by the hostile Serbian fans.
“The players are used to play in hostile atmospheres, they all play in the Champions League,” Domenech said. “On the pitch, it will be 11 (players) against 11. That we play in Belgrade, at Stade de France or anywhere else doesn’t matter.”
Henry scored in the 48th minute against Romania Saturday at Stade de France, but French defender Julien Escude slid in to intercept a cross seven minutes later and turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
“Against Romania, we had plenty of drive,” Henry said. “Unfortunately we only took one point. “When you don’t win, it’s difficult but there is a great atmosphere in the team. Now, let’s try to qualify for the World Cup, this is the main objective.”