As France gear up to face Portugal on Saturday in an international friendly, spare a thought for Didier Deschamps. The French national coach has had a torrid week not at the hands of the press or his players but online. For the second time this year, Deschamps has been blasted on social media by the partner of a player he did not select. The wife of Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourden took to Facebook to call out Deschamps on his apparent snub of her husband when selecting his squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Portugal and Armenia. Noemie Jourdren vented her anger by saying that she hoped Deschamps died the next day. Her comments come only a few months after Anara Atanes ranted on Twitter about Deschamps excluding her boyfriend Samir Nasri from his World Cup squad. Atanes repeatedly swore about France and Deschamps before calling the former Monaco boss as bad manager.
Nasri has since retired from international football citing he was unhappy with everything associated with the national team. Deschamps was questioned by the French media at the time about the exclusion of Nasri, especially given that the midfielder had played a significant role in securing the English Premiership title for his club, Manchester City but the coach simply felt that the player did not play in the same way he did for his country as he did for his club. In the end Nasri’s exclusion matter little with France making it to the quarter finals of the World Cup in Brazil before being knocked out by eventual winners Germany. In the case of Geoffrey Jourden however the player has yet to be capped for France. He has been performing well for his club, Montpellier this season and was in contention for a call up when Saint Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier pulled out of the initial squad due to injury but Deschamps instead opted to call up Rennes Benoit Costil instead. This was obviously a massive disappointment to Jourden who has dreamed of representing his country at full international level since 2006 when he first pulled on the Les Blues jersey for the Under 21 team. However the actions of his wife may have ironically made that dream a more distant reality than it was before her post.
It calls into question the impact that social media can have on a player’s career. Whilst a vital tool to connect the players with their fans and give them a voice away from the pitch, it can be argued that it could be detrimental to their careers especially if they are too vocal in their opinions. Both club and international managers are adapting to the way players use social media with some embracing it as a form of expression and free speech whilst others clamp down heavily in order to protect the players from themselves. However controlling those connected to the players is almost impossible as in the case of Jourden and Nasri. It is admirable that both Noemie Jourdren and Anara Atanes felt compelled enough to protect their partners and voice their anger at what they saw as a grievance as many of us would however when it has the potential to have a negative effect, then they must stop and think about the impact before posting. It must fall to the players to control the situation that surrounds them and stop any social media outbursts that could damage their brand or impact their jobs. Football careers are short as they are and given the increased pressures to perform on a regular basis at the highest level, it is to be anticipated that emotions will run high. However like in any job, blasting your boss on social media or going public with your negative view points about how they do their job will only end up with bad consequences.
As national manager, Deschamps has every right to select the players he feels are correct for the games ahead and will not be deterred by the actions of Noemie Jourden or Anara Atanes. In fact, publicly blasting the manager on social media if anything made it harder for their respective partners to be selected. France automatically qualify for Euro 2016 as hosts so Deschamps is using the time between now and the tournament starting to test players and formations. For Jourden, he had time on his side to continue to impress and eventually win his way into Deschamps plans but the outburst of his wife and in particular the nature of her comments may have made that challenge an impossible one. Jourden would be wise to act quickly to mend the bridge between himself and Deschamps before this situation becomes irreparable or face years of wonder what could have been if only his wife hadn’t written that post.