Most attention in French football, providing welcome distraction from the elections, focuses today on the Premier-style movement at the top, where moneybags Paris Saint-Germain are again threatening to tear up the fairytale script that would have Montpellier as champions. And once-mighty Marseille’s first Ligue 1 win in centuries, Loic Remy grabbing the only goal at home to far-from-mighty Nancy.
I prefer to look forward to tonight’s game and hope for a Dijon victory over Auxerre.
STOP PRESS. Beaten two nil …
Well, even if you don’t share my love of Dijon mustard, you ought to know that the manager of the football club is none other than Patrice Carteron, who had the shortest of runs as a Sunderland player but distinguished himself with the goal you see above, in a Wear-Tyne derby we should have won but in which we allowed Newcastle to come back and draw.
Carteron led Dijon to a remarkable promotion last season and has had lots of ups and downs in Ligue 1, but deserves another shot, especially since Nice fired Eric Roy to destroy Salut! Sunderland’s affection for its second-nearest top-flight club (Marseille being marginally closer).
Three points tonight – and let Patrice not forget his Mecs are at home to the bottom club – would make survival look a lot likelier, as the bottom end of the table shows …
FC Lorient P35 GD -12 38 pts
SM Caen 35 -13 38
OGC Nice 35 -8 37
AC Ajaccio 35 -22 37
Stade Brestois 35 -9 34
Dijon FCO 34 -18 34
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 35 -24 33
AJ Auxerre 34 -7 31
I am indebted to a regular at Salut! Sunderland, Stephen Goldsmith, for reminding me at Twitter of that goal and also the body language of Don Hutchison immediately beforehand, pointing to the very spot where he was about to pass the ball for Carteron to run on and score.
And as a special treat, this is an extract from what Chris Young of the Sunderland Echo wrote before this season’s otherwise best forgotten SAFC-Newcastle game. I think it was a superb piece and have told Chris so …
THE city’s elders clunked their way through a game of petanque in the late autumn sunshine while others sipped a drop of the local Burgundy red.
But for one man in the French city of Dijon, there was no relaxation to be found on Halloween.
Patrice Carteron had spent the afternoon glued to Canal Plus, watching events unfold across the Channel.
It was not happy viewing. Carteron saw his former club humiliated against their fiercest rivals and felt for the thousands on Wearside who had made his own derby experience so memorable.
With redemption for Sunderland at stake against the Magpies this weekend, Carteron just hopes his old employers can restore some pride.
‘When I saw their game against Newcastle, I was really angry because I knew how important it was for the fans to get a good result against the Mags,” said Carteron on October’s 5-1 thrashing at St James’s Park.
‘Hopefully the players can get some revenge on Sunday.’
We enjoyed nothing of the sort of course, the Lads slumping to a 1-0 defeat under Steve Bruce that Martin O’Neill came close to avenging at St James’ Park. But I a grateful for the chance to remember not only a neat goal but the ecstatic reaction of the French football supporters among whom I watched that game in a Lyon pub on April 21 2001 (they preferred to recall his 120 games for Lyon rather than the 142 he played for their own fiercest rivals, Saint-Etienne).