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Cantona: France 'everything I hate in football'


Manchester United legend and former French international Eric Cantona has criticized the current France team, declaring it embodies everything he hates in football.

The eccentric Frenchman -- now an actor and regular feature in Nike ads -- was never on the best of terms with his national side, even as a player.

Despite his immense talent, he never truly made his mark on the international scene, though a record of 20 goals in 45 appearances remains far from inadequate.

Retiring early from the game in 1997 at the age of just 31, Cantona witnessed Les Bleus win their first ever World Cup a year later, and their second European Championship two years after that to complete a rise from a talented but still relatively obscure footballing nation to a genuine superpower -- or so it seemed.

Since then, there was a humiliating 2002 World Cup campaign that saw them eliminated in the group stages without a win or goal to their name, then a quarterfinal elimination from Euro 2004 at the hands of eventual winners Greece. The 2006 World Cup saw them eventually reach the final, but it was not without a tremendously laboured start which was saved by the inspiration of the great Zinedine Zidane and his experienced supporting cast.

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Euro 2008 has ended in similar misery to that of the 2002 World Cup with another group stage elimination, though this was a Group of Death and tougher to negotiate, the French scarcely put up a fight.

Cantona has slammed their defensive nature that saw them snatch the World Cup in 1998, insisting that they have become too attached to a cautious style of play.

With highly criticized coach Raymond Domenech's future to be decided on July 3 and many expecting and demanding his dismissal, Didier Deschamps is thought to be the front-runner to succeed him, having shown promise so far in his brief managerial career.

Cantona, however, believes this would merely mean more of the same, and is calling for an evolution in style.

"What I see from the France team is everything I hate in football," the 42-year-old told Sport. "With Les Bleus having won a World Cup by playing a boring game, we came away thinking that it was impossible to play any other way.

"But nothing says they wouldn't have won by playing attractive football. On the footballing side of things, to name Deschamps would be, in my opinion, a continuation of Domenech."