PARIS - Laurent Blanc has been installed as favourite to succeed Raymond Domenech as France coach after the World Cup but the former defender's credentials have taken a blow in recent times as his Midas touch has deserted him.
A prominent member of France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad, Blanc guided Girondins Bordeaux to the Ligue 1 title last year, in only his second season as a coach and a repeat of that triumph was considered a formality at the start of this year.
But the last few weeks have been tough on Blanc and his side who have slipped down to sixth place, 11 points behind leaders Olympique Marseille with six matches remaining.
To rub salt into their wounds, they were also knocked out of the Champions League by Olympique Lyon in the quarterfinals.
The poor run has put a strain on Blanc, who lost his trademark cool exterior in the process, blaming his players instead of accepting responsibility.
But the 44-year-old remains the most likely candidate to replace the controversial Domenech, whose contract ends after the World Cup, to the extent that French media reported last week he had already made his decision.
Blanc dismissed the report as "absolute nonsense" and reminded the media he had other things to worry about.
"I am not saying anything about it (the France job) because I don't want to talk about it," Blanc told reporters.
"What I want is for us (Bordeaux) to finish the season the best we can."
The French Football Federation is expected to make an official announcement during a council meeting in Paris on May 20. - Reuters