Raymond Domenech was unveiled as the new boss of struggling French Ligue 1 side Nantes on Thursday, 10 years after his rollercoaster reign as France coach ended in a player strike and World Cup humiliation.
“I’m happy, it’s a real pleasure….maybe I understand your problems better, I hope not to repeat my mistakes”, he told journalists.
The 68-year-old Domenech was in charge of Les Bleus from 2004 until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The tournament was an utter fiasco with temperamental striker Nicolas Anelka sent home, players striking in response before the team was knocked out in the first round.
That was the last time Domenech coached a team.
If that was an excruciating experience for the combative Domenech, the next six months will be just as testing with Nantes down in 16th place in the table, three points above the relegation trapdoor.
“The objective is to bring pleasure, to offer something coherent to this team,” said Domenech who has not coached at top-flight club level since a five-year spell at Lyon from 1988-1993.
“Through what we are going to show on the field, I hope that we will bring everyone together.
“I’m not worried, I want things to go well on the pitch, we are moving forward, we are training, the players are strong in spirit, they are happy, with a lot of joy and desire.”
The club’s fans, however, may need convincing.
When he arrived for training on Wednesday, he was greeted by a band playing circus music with a ‘ringmaster’ taking aim at him and club owner Waldemar Kita.
Players were compared to goats.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kita Circus! The Kita Circus brings you some new amazing new acts,” boomed a member of the ‘Brigade Loire’ supporters’ club to a background of deafening music.
“Raymond Domenech will explain to us his vision of football, what will make us laugh on the upcoming weekends.”
Domenech insisted Thursday that he was unperturbed by the hostility.
“At all clubs there are problems. There are worries everywhere. If everything was rosy, you’d have nothing more to write,” he told reporters.
“I don’t know anyone at this club who does not want it to work, everyone wants it to work.”
Domenech’s first match in charge will be on January 6 at home against Breton rivals Rennes.