Stop the tinkering, Andrew Warshaw tells Deschamps
Deschamps' switches in Swiss stalemate do not inspire confidence
When he was at Chelsea, Leicester City's EPL title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri was known as the "Tinkerman" for always chopping and changing his line-up.
Now he has a rival in Didier Deschamps.
France may have progressed to the knockout stages of Euro 2016 and won their group in the process, but two unconvincing last-gasp victories and an extremely fortunate goalless draw have left the nation wondering just how far Les Bleus can go in the competition.
France ended the group stage in the position they wanted but, with their coach still looking for the right formula to bring the best out of a team with high expectations.
Deschamps has been tinkering since the start of the tournament and made no fewer than five changes against Switzerland yesterday morning (Singapore time).
History shows, of course, that tactical group-stage fixtures mean little in the scheme of things. The end of this week is when the real business starts.
France can also point to yet another poor pitch - a disappointing factor of the entire tournament - on which they were unable to stroke the ball around as they might have liked.
But the way in which Deschamps fiddled with personnel on the way to completing what should have been a comfortable Group A campaign raises justifiable questions about whether he has the nous to make the nation proud by going all the way.
Once again, the hosts squandered chances - none more so than the recalled Paul Pogba, who had three in an astonishing opening 20 minutes after almost putting the ball in his own net.
But then, even he flitted in and out of a bizarre game marked by some fine saves by the excellent Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer, a burst ball and four ripped Swiss shirts.
Deschamps introduced the mercurial Dimitri Payet in the second half, presumably hoping for another of those late winners.
The West Ham miracle man almost obliged by thrashing a shot against the underside of the crossbar but a nation was left to rue their team's profligacy.
Deschamps was satisfied with the outcome, though he acknowledged a continuing room for improvement.
"We had four good chances and, had we been a bit more clinical, we could have scored," said the 47-year-old.
"Switzerland were better on the ball at times, but without threatening too much. But for a great goalkeeper and a few centimetres, we could have scored goals.
"It was very important to finish first in the group and clearly there are still things that need to be improved upon.
"But then, I've seen almost every match and, apart from two or three games, all sides have had tricky games."
Deschamps understandably omitted N'Golo Kante to save last season's Leicester midfield hero from a yellow card and suspension.
But, otherwise, one wondered why he felt compelled to make so many alternations.
As he indicated, there is work to do on the training ground before they head for Lyon next Monday morning and a meeting with one of the top four third-placed teams.
No side win a major competition of this stature without an element of luck and France can point to the Swiss game as the moment they had their first dose of good fortune.
Bacary Sagna appeared to impede Blerim Dzemaili in added time but referee Damir Skomina, conveniently perhaps, did not spot the offence.
Unlike several of his teammates, Dzemaili's shirt was not ripped and Switzerland understandably did not make too much of it having themselves progressed to the knockout rounds.
Anything else for the Swiss from now on is a bonus as this is their first appearance in the last 16 of any Euros.
Not so France.
Intensity will have to be stepped up against better teams.
Deschamps will know they have yet to produce a complete performance worthy of their favourites' tag.
The French coach, who captained his country to victory at the 1998 World Cup and at the European Championship two years later, has a reputation for turning everything he touches into gold.
If he continues to tinker without settling on his best team, he could end up with, whisper it quietly, a far less precious metal.
Real Madrid ready to splash the cash for Pogba
Real Madrid and Juventus have opened talks over the possible transfer of French international Paul Pogba, the player's agent Mino Raiola revealed yesterday.
"He (Pogba) admires (Zinedine) Zidane, he's always told me so. For Paul, Real Madrid, Zidane, the people of Madrid, have always represented something special," Raiola told Spanish sports daily Marca.
"They (Real) know what we want and we'll see if in the end we can seal a union or if it ends in divorce."
The Italian press reported recently that Real president Florentino Perez is ready to pay 120 million euros ($182m) for the midfielder currently on duty with France at Euro 2016. - AFP.