Suspensions, distractions slow Blanc's efforts to rejuvenate France
It's been over two months since France's players went on strike during the World Cup in protest of the French football federation's decision to send home striker
Anelka's 18-game ban effectively ends his international career, but it is the other sanctions -- captain
"I don't understand the differences in these sanctions," Blanc said in a statement he released after the FA disciplinary committee made its decision without his input. "To my knowledge this strike was a collective decision, even if some players did have more power. But if we want to get over this episode from the World Cup, we need to start winning games. If we don't do that, this story will linger."
Banning key players from competition does not help France's chances. Evra is appealing the ban with his lawyer making the "collective decision" argument.
But his case was overshadowed by a row with FA council member
Evra's absence will most likely be covered by
Two other stories rumbling in the background have not helped Blanc's preparations. Last week, former France team doctor
France's 2-1 loss to Norway made it three defeats in a row for Les Bleus, their worst run of results for over 30 years, and though Belarus at home should not cause them too many problems, an away game in Bosnia, which can field prolific Bundesliga strikers
"Being a coach is extremely tiring and I can't see myself doing for this years and years like
Perhaps it's only now that Blanc is beginning to understand just how right they were.