Clichy: Les Bleus in Good Spirits
Gael Clichy insists the atmosphere in the France squad is positive and has accused the media of trying to stir up a repeat of the turmoil which has ruined recent major tournaments for them.
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Les Bleus managed just one point and one goal at Euro 2008 and again at the World Cup two years ago, when their squad imploded into mutiny and refused to train after Nicolas Anelka's exclusion.
Coach Laurent Blanc has succeeded in fostering an improved team spirit since succeeding Raymond Domenech after the latter tournament, and Clichy is encouraged by the atmosphere since joining up with the squad yesterday.
"It's the same as everyday life," he told L'Equipe. "For now, the atmosphere is so good nobody is asking about what may go wrong."
But he warned: "What the press want to discover, they will ask to this or that player. That, we cannot control.
"It is up to you (the media) whether you want to create tension in the squad."
The Manchester City man believes the retirement of some senior players and established stars has helped rid the squad of cliques which may have developed in the past.
For Blanc's first game in charge, against Norway, the new coach axed the entire squad tarnished by events in South Africa and, although the Oslo friendly was lost 2-1, he has reaped the long-term benefits with the development of a young, hungry set of players.
"We all have the same vision," said Clichy.
"A few years ago, with players like Henry and Makelele, it was harder for the young players. They were 'the men' in French football, who had won the World Cup and the Euros.
"And that, whether you like it or not, created a bit of a gulf."
The squad are not complacent about the possibility of problems developing at some stage in the tournament, though, and Blanc admitted: "There will be tensions.
"When you have a group of 23 players plus staff, there will always be friction. It is always like that in a group.
"It's up to us to pay attention and bring serenity, the famous positive attitude. We have to stay 'zen'."