Claims from former France and PSG manager Laurent Blanc that he turned down an overture from U.S. Soccer to coach the men's national team seemed a bit fishy. And to little surprise, it appears as if they most certainly are.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told SI's Grant Wahl that "U.S. Soccer has not approached Laurent Blanc about coaching the USMNT," clarifying any ambiguity surrounding the situation. U.S. Soccer added to Gulati's denial, stating: “We have not had any formal discussions with any possible candidates at this point in our coaching search.”
It all makes sense. U.S. Soccer is in the midst of transition, with the election for Gulati's successor to be held on Feb. 10. The U.S. men won't play a meaningful game until 2019, so there really is no need to be in a rush to hire a new coach, especially considering that a full crop of qualified candidates could become available after the World Cup in Russia this coming summer.
There's also the matter of the structural changes reportedly under consideration at U.S. Soccer, in which a general manager role would be created to handle the soccer side of things, under the guidance of the board of directors and the president.
All of this adds up to an equation that doesn't include any coaching offers being made, much less one to Blanc, regardless of his remarks to Le Parisien.
Blanc, who in October had denied any rumors linking him to the U.S. job, most recently managed Paris Saint-Germain, guiding the French power from 2013-16. That came after a spell with the France national team from 2010-12, when he took over for Raymond Domenech after the 2010 World Cup. He began his managerial career with Bordeaux in 2007.
So why would he claim he was made an offer? Perhaps he's eager to get a new job, and there's no better way to stay relevant than by making it appear that you're wanted. Sam Allardyce, for instance, was commenting on every opening under the sun for the weeks preceding his signing with Everton. And while there are openings at two national teams headed to the World Cup (Australia, Serbia), Blanc, in his comments to Le Parisien, has made it clear that "a big club" is what he's looking for.
His agent, prior to the World Cup draw at which Blanc participated earlier this month, claimed that Australia and the USA had reached out to gauge his interest, telling L'Equipe: "He's looking forward to starting again, but he doesn't want to coach for coaching's sake. He wants to try to get a big project, at a big club. If the project doesn't arrive, we'll see. We get offers all the time, from clubs from national teams... The USA, Australia for the World Cup."
Regardless, Blanc won't be manning the U.S. sideline anytime soon, if ever, and those looking for a quick hire should steer their attention elsewhere. It's simply not going to happen, and it'd be borderline malpractice for the current leadership of U.S. Soccer to rush through a full-time successor to Bruce Arena with so much uncertainty in the offing.
In the meantime, after coaching the U.S. men in a November friendly vs. Portugal, interim boss Dave Sarachan will continue to oversee the U.S. for its January camp, which kicks off on Jan. 10 and ends with a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center.