“It’s time to win”, Corinne Deacon wants to unlock the winners of Les Bleues at European Championship 2022

After a few days of cohesion training in the South West, the players of the French football team will join Clairefontaine this Tuesday to begin the bulk of the preparation that will lead them to their first game of the European Championship (from 6 July 31 in England) on July 10 against Italy. A few weeks before the start of the preparations, coach Corinne Deacon had reserved a morning at the headquarters of the French Football Association for some interviews with the press, including RMC Sport. For almost 25 minutes, the Blues boss, available and smiling, did not shy away from any topic, mentioning her management, the evolution of her group and the sporting objective at the European Championship.

Corinne, at this European Championship the field seems very homogeneous, with no real favorite for the title…

Yes, it is very homogeneous. Honestly, who can say: ‘The favorite is such a team’, that’s impossible for me to say. The European continent is today the strongest. The nations work very well today. It will be a difficult challenge, but one that we will take on.

How do you finally unlock the French team’s prize list?

You have to believe it already. We have expressed this ambition to continue until July 31 (in the final), that’s for sure. We must continue to work on our performance and improve on details. We want to achieve something together, the word today is the collective. And then there are some veterans who are approaching the end of their careers, perhaps the last big game for some, the time has come. This is the time.

What is your assessment of last season?

Very nice season. The goal was to qualify directly for April’s matches for the World Cup. It’s finished. We won all our games, there were positives, there was also adjustment because I had injured players. We can’t talk about preparation matches because we played official matches that we had to win to qualify for the World Cup, but despite everything we were able to test things, create this group with my staff and a balance between experienced players and younger players. Although I think we have three categories: experienced players, young experienced players and young players.

Do you think this generation mix you’ve been talking about for the past few months has really caught on?

Fully. The youngsters come with a lot of recklessness and freshness, they come to increase the competition. This provided a new breath and did everyone good. And it also shows that there can be other good players in our league besides Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain. And it’s beneficial for our clubs, which is very good.

Do you find your tactical impression on the team satisfactory?

There are still things to work on. After all, there are still very positive things. This season we have scored many goals, but conceded few. And when we cashed in, we were able to maintain a positive score and win the matches. There are of course things to adjust, but we have a group that lives well. The idea is also to maintain this trust that we have towards each other, but also the players towards the staff and vice versa the staff towards the players.

How have you been working with your cramped staff since Éric Blahic left?

I now have two assistants in charge of specific matters: Anthony Grech-Angelini for athletic preparation and Gilles Fouache for goalkeepers. The staff is indeed tight, but most importantly there is a lot of confidence, professionalism. Everyone knows what to do, everyone is in place with a very specific mission, depending on the profession. It works very well. Sometimes, isn’t a little less numerous, isn’t a little more efficient? In any case, we have found our way of working and it works well.

“I realized that wasn’t what they wanted”

For some time now you have changed your management style with a new closeness to your players. What do you think of this new relationship with your players?

I realized quite simply that this was not what they wanted. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving them time, there were still discussions, I thought it was what they wanted and actually not at all. We were able to tell each other. This means that it works well on a communication level. Today, exchanges are much more fluid, there is much more closeness, informal discussions. We also get to know each other better, sometimes it takes time to build relationships, to get to know each other. For some it goes very quickly, for others it can take a while. The permanent exchanges are interesting. Today a player can come up to me and tell me she’s not feeling well, and we’ll take that into account.

This season, one of the highlights in the evolution of this group was the return of the bracelet to Wendie Renard.

It was an informed decision, shared with my assistants. And most importantly to make it work, Wendie had to accept, we have to thank her too. This immediately provided an emulation because she can also lean on the taulières next to her. As with her club, she also deals with young players, and then we won all our matches. It inspires something, it imposes something, and we have this common desire. And then she plays her part of captain.

Given their performance this season, do you have the most effective offensive front in Europe?

I’d love to say yes, but if I can tell you that on July 31st, that would suit me. I think it’s a whole. We can have an attacking trio that performs just as well if we have significant stability behind us. The performances of Pauline Peyraud-Magnin are not featured today. She makes some decisive saves that we don’t talk about enough for me, and that makes the switch at some point for us to be effective offensively. I would speak more of a collective, even if some are valued more than others.

“Wendie plays her role as captain, she imposes something. We have this common desire”

To make a difference, you can count on Marie-Antoinette Katoto. Is it the 9 the French team needs to win a title this summer?

Fully. To come back to 2019 (Marie-Antoinette Katoto’s non-selection for the World Cup), we opted for continuity and experience. Today it is the striker of the French team. She is a great player, you have to give her freedom, carte blanche, the most important thing for her is to be in the right place at the right time and use the right surface to get the ball into the back of the net. † She always wants that, when I take her out she’s not so happy (smile). She gives a lot, she works tirelessly.

Have you taken the time to process the failure of 2019?

If I told you no, I’d be lying to you. Since I am an honest person, I will say yes. Too much time… It’s been too long. But maybe necessary.

What was hard to digest?

Too many things, too many things. Already the failure of the competition, and everything that happened behind it. And not always right. But that’s just my point of view, we could discuss it, but that would take too long. But at the same time, it may have been a blessing in disguise. This allowed me to think well, to ask myself well. There has been a lot of evolution. In retrospect, there are things that we also have no control over that are forced upon us. Sometimes you have to deal with it. But it fakes. The keyword is adaptation. Depending on the situation, you have to adapt. This is, I think, what I was able to do. Today I definitely have a closer team, but we have the same goal, a lot more complicity and respect between us, that keeps us going in the right direction.