On Friday evening, the French national team qualified for the upcoming European Championships. Controversy permeated the celebrations though. Manager Corinne Diacre has found herself in an ongoing war with her squad — especially with the return of Amandine Henry.
Public battles have littered Diacre’s tenure. An assortment of players have faced her ire. From young stars such as Marie-Antoinette Katoto to established giants like Wendie Renard. Today, it is Amandine Henry who finds herself embroiled in battle against her coach.
World Cup Aftershocks
Their fractured partnership was partially exposed by Sarah Bouhaddi. Appearing on OLTV, Bouhaddi discussed player morale after the World Cup. The squad were not happy with their performance against the United States. Their private conversation infuriated Diacre.
Bouhaddi claimed Diacre targeted players she felt were the leadership figures. Summoning them for meetings, Diacre demanded to know what had been said and their opinions of her. The players who faced the worst of these “interrogations” were Bouhaddi and Henry.Embed from Getty Images
Diacre interpreted their discussion as a personal attack. What could have been constructive was ignored in favour of anger. This revelation corroborates various leaks out of Clairefontaine – the national football center.
Reports had emerged of players crying in the corridors. Their upset stemming from intense meetings with a furious Diacre. Aspiring to weed out anyone against her management.
The Battle for Control
Diacre is a coach who demands total control both on and off the pitch. Those who support her often cite the fact she gets results as evidence she should remain in the role. Yet, with the calibre of talent France possess, you would expect them to dispatch the majority of their opponents with ease.Embed from Getty Images
Their dominant performances and impressive style come at the expense of empathetic management. The highly publicised events of the last two months have been the result of a year of mistreatment.
Rather than attempt to solve the problem, Diacre took retaliatory measures. This included excluding Henry from the October roster. It was a decision that sent shockwaves through the world of French football.
An Instant Response
Diacre was quick to explain the omission by citing Henry’s early season injury as the reason she was not present. The claim that the two time Ballon d’Or nominee was not at an acceptable playing level was swiftly rubbished.
In Henry’s place were players recovering from stress fractures, who had fainted in the middle of matches and were barely getting any game time…
Henry would later claim she felt her removal from the team was personal. But not before she responded to the snub by scoring a statement goal in a victory over Guingamp. Complete with a celebration that sent a direct message to the unpopular coach.
Ahead of the latest international window, great intrigue surrounded the issue of Henry’s selection. There was a general consensus she deserved a place. But an explosive interview on Canal+ jeopardized her position further.
‘It Was Total Chaos…’
Acknowledging she was risking her career by giving it, Henry felt she had no choice due to her duty as captain. “Now is the time to fix the problems. Not in three years,” she stated. “France must win a title. We should put everything down and say things frankly. I would like us all to gather around a table, the president, the staff, all the players …”
All eyes were on what Diacre would do with her captain. Sources close to the coach suggested she had no intention of including Henry in her squad. Federation president Noël Le Graët reportedly swayed her decision. Insisting she had a duty to select the strongest team to represent France.
Henry found herself back with the team. But this return has not been smooth sailing.
Amandine Henry: ‘Are You Threatening Me?’
Continued leaks from camp illustrate the severity of the situation.
A brief discussion about Henry’s desired meeting ended in argument. Referencing the shocking interview, Diacre told her captain: “Everything has a price.” Henry retorted by asking if that was a threat.
It is clear Diacre is in no rush to meet with her players. With a wide grin, she dismissed the issue when asked by reporters. According to her, she would only meet with the team when she felt like doing so.
The Cost of Speaking Out
There is also the issue of Henry’s role in the squad. It came to light she was not training as a starting player in the lead up to the game against Austria. Yet, she featured in the starting lineup. Around the hour mark, Diacre substituted her off.Embed from Getty Images
A tense acknowledgement of each other in the technical area became the focus of the broadcast. As opposed to the game itself. Dejected, Henry watched her team from the stands. An underserved punishment given a sturdy if not perfect return to the side. Whether these were mind games by Diacre is open to interpretation.
What is clear though is that Diacre has no intentions to change her behaviour. No matter how many players she upsets.