Those of you with hair have torn it out, the milk is well and truly spilt or even spilled Over at non-football Salut!, I wondered aloud whether watching Sunderland could, like smoking, seriously damage your health. It has been a week in which a supporter of West Brom, of all clubs, cockily dismissed Sunderland in his “fan’s view” for the Daily Mail as “physical, determined but limited”. And that was just the first-half, when we were ahead. So let’s change tack. Here, before we start fretting about Birmingham away, is another episode in our French Fancies series …
Yes. I really should get out more. The time to end the ridiculous feud with Les Girondins de Bordeaux has surely past. Who cares if the club president Jean-Louis Triaud and his then manager, Laurent Blanc, insulted Sunderland AFC?
But every time I feel Salut! Sunderland should move on, bury the hatchet, find someone else to taunt, along comes an excuse to reopen hostilities with the self-important Ligue 1 underachievers who declared that Sunderland AFC were altogether too small a club to be allowed to buy Marouane Chamakh (now at Arsenal, where he scores a little and dives a lot).
The healthy sign is that instead of feeling angry every time I hear the club’s name, I now look for reasons to laugh at Bordeaux.
And, remembering that others are laughing at us just now, what better than this, a result that gave me more pleasure than any since our own last win (Jan 22, if you don’t count the Reserves beating Man City 2-0 last night, or the Sunderland Women Football Club’s laudable successes)? …
Bordeaux 0 Arles-Avignon 0
To appreciate this scoreline to the full, look at the foot of the Ligue 1 table:
16 Monaco 30 7 14 9 29 29 0 35
17 Caen 30 9 8 13 33 4 -10 35
18 Auxerre 30 6 16 8 34 36 -2 34
19 Lens 30 6 10 14 28 46 -18 28
20 Arles-Avignon 30 1 10 19 16 57 -41 13
Promoted last season, Arles-Avignon are having their equivalent of our last two relegation seasons. L’Equipe called them the worst team in the history of Ligue 1.
And still they managed to hold Big Club Bordeaux, playing at home before a Big Club Crowd of 24,000, to a goalless draw. L’Equipe featured their Bordeaux forward Anthony Modeste, who is supposed to get the goals now that Chamakh has gone, as the key man before making it clear he was key only in the sense of failing to impress (four out of 10, though one or two of his colleagues collected threes).
How distant must the Ligue 1 title and Champions League seem now. Karma?
“They’re not worthy of this club,” spluttered our pantomime villain, the president, about his players before heading back to his vineyards. Oh yes they are, M Triaud, oh yes they are.
* Lille are still stop, despite losing at Monaco, Marseille missing the chance to close the gap to a single point by dropping two at home to Toulouse). Big Club Bordeaux are eighth. In Ligue 2, M Salut’s in-law interest – Stéphane Sessegnon’s former club Le Mans – have been squeezed out of a promotion slot by Ajaccio, raising hopes of a Corsican presence in the top flight against next season).
But the other bit of good news is that despite having David Bellion on loan (yep, from Bordeaux), Salut! Sunderland‘s favourites OGC Nice, know as le Gym and managed by our own Eric Roy, have made it through to the semi-finals of the Coupe de France. Their opponents next Tuesday night, unfortunately, are Lille, but with a capacity crowd – all of 17,400 to roar them on – who knows? Sadly, Nice are just two points above the drop zone and there is talk of Roy being replaced by Rolland Courbis at the end of the season. Bonne chance et bon courage Eric …