On Twitter this afternoon we had some fun remembering French embarrassments in Africa: the Battle of the Nile, Fashoda, Mers El Kebir, Suez, Bocassa, Rwanda and now, of course, South Africa 2010.
Flippant, obviously, but France's meltdown this tournament has been richly entertaining (the shame of it is that Les Bleus cannot meet England. Now *that* would be a perversely amusing moment of anti-entertainment).
Apart from the Irish, no one has enjoyed this tournament more than the French themselves. Few countries, after all, do self-mortification quite as well as the French. That the current crop of players are perhaps even less likeable than their English counterparts only adds extra reason for lashing them.
The contrast with 2006 when—if memory serves—everyone on this blog enjoyed the whole "Space Cowboys" sillyness of France's run to the final is, alas, complete and total.
Where once there was charm, now there's a sense of grasping entitlement displayed by players—and management—who aren't nearly as impressive as they think they are. So, off with their heads it is.
According to one poll, as many as 75% of French fans were actually supporting South Africa earlier today. That's something that could happen in other countries, I suppose, but not, I think, the United States.
Of course, the bourgeoisie has been waiting for an opportunity to get some hate on for years and, my, has their patience been rewarded this year. The smugness and sense of entitlement is not confined to the players.
That said, if this team had played with an ounce of courage or, better still, some measure of panache then that would be one thing. The way the game is played still matters and here too France have disappointed and betrayed their own best traditions.
Entertaining as the meltdown has been, that's the greater failure by far and, alas, one of the reasons why almost no-one, least of all in France, is disappointed by this failure.
Still, I did like one mischievous suggestion: Raymond Domenech to take over at Liverpool? Shame there's no vacancy at Arsenal...