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Hoddle urges France to look abroad

Hoddle says a foreign coach could revive the French national team

PARIS, France (Reuters) -- Former England manager Glenn Hoddle said on Wednesday he was convinced that a foreign coach could revive the France national team after their Euro 2004 failure.

Hoddle officially asked to be considered for the vacant post on Tuesday following Jacques Santini's departure to English club Tottenham Hotspur.

"Coaching Les Bleus would be a huge privilege," Hoddle, a former Tottenham player, told sports daily L'Equipe.

"I still regard France as one of the more talented teams in the world but I think their new coach will have to find the proper balance between new blood and experienced players."

Santini's two-year reign as the French national coach ended miserably as his side were beaten 1-0 in the quarterfinals of Euro 2004 by eventual winners Greece.

Santini agreed to join Tottenham just days before the start of the finals, leading to intense speculation about who would replace him.

Former internationals Laurent Blanc and Jean Tigana are regarded by French media as the favourites.

But Hoddle thinks that being a foreigner should not be a problem even if France have only once appointed a foreign coach, Romanian Stefan Kovacs from 1973 to 1975.

"The times are changing. If you look at today's French team only two or three players play in the French championship, the others have moved to England, Italy or Spain," he said.

"Greece, who have just won Euro 2004, were coached by a foreigner and so are England.

"I think a foreigner could revive French soccer, bringing in a new approach and new ideas."

Hoddle's application has nevertheless come under immediate fire.

"We should be able to find the new coach of our national team in our own country. I think Hoddle hasn't got a chance of succeeding," said Gervais Marteln chairman of RC Lens, speaking for the Union of French professional soccer clubs (UCPF)

A French football federation spokesman said that FFF's chairman Claude Simonet had received Hoddle's application "with respect" and would meet him before the FFF's council meets on Friday to name the new national coach.

Raymond Domenech, the under-21 coach, has also declared an interest, while Bruno Metsu, who led Senegal to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, is seen as an outside candidate.

New Tottenham manager Santini promised on Wednesday to overhaul the underachieving London club.

"The club have released three or four top players and we are in a rebuilding process," the former France coach said

"My main aim is to be ready for the challenge of the new season but there will be other players coming here."

Santini hopes to convince Portuguese striker Helder Postiga to stay at Spurs.

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