Nice, or Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d’Azur to give them their splendid full title, are – for the uninitiated – the team Salut! Sunderland looks out for in France. They had as good a weekend as the Tangerine-clad men from the slightly less sunny English seaside ….
Nota bene the two results. Rather a neat bit of alliteration to mark two minor causes for celebration at Salut!’s Nice Corner, our regular look at French football.
There isn’t too much of a French connection in Blackpool’s balloon-pricking win at St James’ Park.
For Blackpool, Nice-born Malaury Martin played nearly a full match. Ben Arfa, lately of these (southern French) parts came on late for the Mags, moved well but could make no impact.
According to the Talk of the Tyne website, he “looked keen and showed some glimpses of what the supporters had hoped for, but despite his good movement and touches on the ball, his options were limited as they had been all game for anyone on the ball”.
But they’d laugh at us if we’d been comfortably beaten at home by the team everyone thought would go straight back down, so will have to put up with our guffaws in the opposite direction.
The result from Nice was another source of pleasure. Eric Roy, briefly an elegant Sunderland midfielder towards the end of his playing career, led our French team of choice to a great win over Bordeaux, champions only the season before last.
It is well-known that a defeat for les Girondins, after their condescending treatment of Sunderland when we tried to buy Marouane Chamakh before the start of last season, brings almost as much joy to me as any Toon setback (except one involving us).
Today’s L’Equipe makes good reading: Ce Bordeaux est zéro, roars the headline, a sub-heading pointing out that the “unworthy” performance leaves Bordeaux in the relegation zone.
And what did the winemaking coach/president duo make of it? Catastrophic, said Jean Tiguana; “unacceptable – like an amateur team,” added Jean-Louis Triaud, the man who led those insults – “Sunderland not a big enough club for Chamakh” – last year.
Eric reckoned it was Nice’s best display of the season. They remain unbeaten and are now fourth in a Ligue 1 so far lacking any dominant force.
The champions Marseille were held again at home (2-2 v Monaco), Toulouse stayed top despite losing 1-0 at home to St Etienne – and Rennes, minus our goalscoring hero Asamoah Gyan, are second after winning 2-1 against Sochaux.
Nothing much to read into the early standings, except that poor little Arles-Avignon, thumped 4-0 at PSG, are pointless and pretty much doomed already.
Toulouse will not end up champions. Bordeaux, sadly, are unlikely to go down though with any luck their recovery may be a little like the surname of their goalscorer at Nice, Anthony Modeste. And Marseille’s poor form surely cannot continue.
But that, if Salut! Sunderland is to be honest, probably exhaust Mackem interest in events on the other side of La Manche.