Probably for one week only, French Fancies returns to record the latest edition of the Mediterranean exploits of one Steven Fletcher, on loan from SAFC to Marseille …
There are worse things footballers can be called than goats, as Olympique de Marseille were during Saturday’s 0-0 draw on Saturday, a 14th home game in Ligue 1 without a win.
If the people calling you goats also happen to accompany the jibe with the Benny Hill theme tune played from the stands, it seems even less wounding as an insult.
But it was not simply a case of gentle, harmless banter or wall-to-wall good humour at the Vélodrome on Sunday as our own (if only just) Steven Fletcher and the rest of the OM team were given a piece of the supporters’ collective mind.
The draw with our old bêtes noires, Bordeaux, also made it nine games, home or away, without a league win – and the crowd’s reaction got nastier.
If OM are hardly in the same pickle as us, the result leaves them an uncomfortable six points from the drop zone. Five games remain and while Marseille are best placed, among the six clubs in most danger of going down with already relegated Troyes, narrow survival is not what that club thinks, with good reason, that it’s about.
Disgruntled hotheads lit flares during Sunday’s match (though in fairness, as Pete Sixsmith will recall from a visit with Monsieur Salut (vs Troyes a few seasons back), they do that even when winning. After the match, about 200 fans had to be dispersed by riot police using tear gas.
The players – my local paper described Fletcher as “available but having little impact” – were not alone in attracting the supporters’ fury.
The owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus was described in banners as a “rich incompetent heiress” and advised to “get lost” or, in sexist fashion, get back to her “real job as housewife”.
Fletch can console himself that there are worse places to be in the world than Marseille, even when things are going wrong and provided you keep out of the way of all those feuding, gun-crazed drug dealers.
In other news, a certain ex-Mag, Hatem Ben Arfa, scored all three as my other local side, Nice, waltzed past Rennes and into fourth place.