The Mag hordes have departed, taking with them the smug smiles we can but wish we had been wearing since 2pm on Saturday. On my own reckoning, there must have been 15,000 visits over the weekend from Newcastle supporters eager to gloat. And they didn’t even buy a mug between them! As for Sunderland, we now face an important week on the road, with effective performances a must at Brighton and Swansea. But first of all, let’s have another look at football across the Channel…
Three games into the French season, Steed Malbranque has finally had his first taste of Ligue 1 football since the move from Sunderland to St Etienne (might a touch of his creativity made a difference on Saturday?).
Steed came on in the 64th minute as a sub in Les Verts’ creditable 0-0 draw at Marseille. A win would have taken them top; the point means they are in third place.
For Steed, it was important just to get back in top-flight action. He was ineligible for St Etienne’s opening game a few days after his move and then went down with a bout of gastro-enteritis to wreck his chances of a home debut against Nancy.
He had been expected by some to start but had to make do with a place on the bench. His team played an ultra-defensive game in fron the surprisingly low Vélodrome crowd of just under 41,500 – it sounds a classically dull French affair – and reportedly had a fairly anonymous role when he did get on to the pitch.
The game was symbolically kicked off by Joseph-Antoine Bell, a Cameroonian former goalkeeper for both clubs, who is remembered for his great contribution to a pocket book of quotes about Marseille: “When we score, blacks, Jews, Arabs and everyone else rises to their feet at the same time.”
Had St Etienne won, they would have gone joint top with Montpellier, with much more chance of staying that high.
Other points of interest: PSG, bursting with dosh from Qatar, finally managed a victory (albeit a narrow on, 2-1, against lowly Valenciennes), Bordeaux cheered us up a little by remaining winless and our old friend Eric Roy finds himself propping up the table after his Nice team surrendered a late equaliser to second-placed Toulouse.
My city-in-law and Sess’s old club Le Mans won for the first time, in the second division.
But performance of the weekend involved another Sunderland connection: Patrice Carteron’s newly promoted Dijon grabbed a first win, 2-0 at home Lorient.
And I bet Patrice took more than a passing interest in events at the Stadium of Light, the setting for his only goal for us and, mais oui, it was in a Wear-Tyne derby.
Oh, and you can now add an engraved Salut! Sunderland pen to your shopping list.
Following the launch of our first merchandise, coffee/tea mugs which I thought were quite smart but one Mag mocked at a Newcastle site as “looking like me 3 year old attacked it with a paint brush”, you can get the pen for £6.50 by following the link to this Salut! Sunderland Shop page.
And the impertinent Mag, “wyn355”, can rest reassured that I am working on a Newcastle version of the mug. I just need to persuade the suppliers to put the handle inside. Our mugs can be seen and purchased here.