Salut! Sunderland is, of course, a gloat-free zone. We recognise that no mature Newcastle United supporter ever mocked Sunderland after the 7-1 defeat at Everton, 7-2 at Chelsea or indeed 5-1 at St James’ Park.
So, not least in the knowledge that bad results lie ahead for us as well as them given the nature of football, there is no specific intention to rub salt in the wounds of yesterday’s mauling by Jordan Henderson and Liverpool of the Mags.
But the French Fancies series cried out for a quick look at how the match was viewed on the other side of the Channel.
L’Equipe, the sports daily, made the story a page lead in its foreign football coverage, devoting almost as much to this extraordinary game as it did two weeks ago to Sunderland’s more restrained demolition ofwhat the paper calls “les Toons”.
It is of particular interest to a French newspaper because five of the starting 11 who were so “ridiculed” by Liverpool, to quote the sub-heading and the text, were French. “It could have ended up with eight or nine,” Kevin Keegan is quoted as saying. This being France, where cricket is barely understood, L’Equipe made no jokes about Liverpool declaring at 6 for none.
It does point out the effect on goal difference of the two heavy home defeats for Newcastle and says that while the situation is “not yet catastrophic”, it is nevertheless very worrying for Alan Pardew ahead of a visit to West Ham next weekend. There is also mention of it being the Mags’ worst home defeat since losing 7-1 to Blackburn in 1925, but no reference to that earlier humiliation (1-9, in 1908, to another North-eastern club whose identity I cannot quite recall).
Meanwhile, in Ligue 1, even without Stephane Sessegnon, PSG seem destined to clinch the title very soon. The lead over Marseille is six points with PSG away at lowly Evian-TG tonight (Update: and they duly won, 1-0; with four games to go, they are now on 73 points to OM’s 64 and, while technically needing four points to be sure, also have a vastly superior goal difference).
At the bottom, Alfred N’Diaye’s old club Nancy – once seemingly dead and buried – have clawed their way free, if only just, of the relegation zone.