So near, so far: Wigan to Newcastle, Lens to Lorient



Another instalment of French Fancies, Salut! Sunderland‘s occasional dip into football as it’s played on the other side of La Manche – with a comparison of tight competition in the top flights of both France and England and news of the latest phase of David Bellion’s footballing career …

It is time for M Salut to take another glance at the French Ligue 1. And there is one striking similarity between what is going on there and in our own Premier League season.

Look at ninth position in the PL and eighth in Ligue 1: our friends up the road at Newcastle United on 36 points in England, Lorient on 36 in France.

Then cast your eyes down each table to the bottom, or nearly bottom in the case of Ligue 1. Wigan have 27 points in the PL, Lens have managed 25 from three fewer games in France (we must exclude, for the purposes of this comparison, poor little Arles-Avignon, adrift on 11 and perhaps surprised to have managed even that many).

So the gap between ninth top and bottom in England is just nine points. Yet every supporter answering Salut! Sunderland’s “Who are You?” questions has Wigan as certs to go down while I can recall only one mischief-maker, a Villa fan recalling a 6-0 defeat at SJP, who has nominated Toon.

It is not quite as tight in France, but still only 11 points separate Lorient, just one win short of a top six position, and second-bottom Lens. In contrast, the top of the Ligie 1 table is cluttered with only five points separating the leading five – Lille, Rennes, Lyon, Marseille and PSG – whereas Manchester United are 12 ahead of Spurs.

About the only prediction on which I’d place money in either country would be for Arles-Avignon to return to Ligue 2.

1 Lille 26 13 10 3 45 25 20 49
2 Stade Rennais 26 14 7 5 31 18 13 49
3 Lyonnais 26 12 9 5 44 25 19 45
4 Marseille 26 12 9 5 37 23 14 45
5 Paris Saint-Germain 26 12 8 6 39 26 13 44
6 Montpellier Hérault 26 10 8 8 21 24 -3 38
7 Bordeaux 26 9 10 7 35 31 4 37
8 Lorient 26 10 6 10 32 31 1 36
9 Sochaux 26 10 5 11 40 31 9 35
10 Saint-Étienne 26 9 8 9 33 33 0 35
11 Brest 26 9 8 9 27 28 -1 35
12 Toulouse 26 10 3 13 27 29 -2 33
13 Valenciennes 26 7 11 8 30 27 3 32
14 Caen 26 8 8 10 29 36 -7 32
15 Nice 26 7 9 10 17 27 -10 30
16 Auxerre 26 5 14 7 30 33 -3 29
17 Nancy 26 8 5 13 27 41 -14 29
18 Monaco 26 4 14 8 25 28 -3 26
19 Lens 26 5 10 11 24 40 -16 25
20 Arles-Avignon 26 1 8 17 13 50 -37 11

One other piece of news from France: David Bellion, whose astonishing pace when playing for Sunderland is remembered almost as vividly as his disastrous final touch, is back – on loan – with Salut! Sunderland‘s own team of choice, Nice, managed by our former midfielder Eric Roy.

This, from Wikipedia, is Bellion’s record in snapshot:

2001-2003 Sunderland 24 (1 goal: remember it anyone? A good run and, for once, finish – against Villa)

2003-2005 Manchester United 40 (8)

2005-Jan 2006 (loan) West Ham 10 (1)

Jan 2006-2006 (loan) Nice 18 (6)

2006-2007 Nice 31 (7)

2007-Jan 2011 Bordeaux 112 (24)

Jan 2011- (loan) OGC Nice 7 (0)

His time at Bordeaux, then, was not quite as wasted as we might have supposed.

It is also worth recalling that while we dislike that club intensely (a result of the disgraceful comments made by the president and manager, Jean-Louis Triaud and Laurent Blanc, when SAFC wanted to buy Marouane Chamakh), they have been Ligue 1 champions during his time there,

And if Eric Roy can get Bellion to match his scoring rate in previous spells at Nice, then his hopes of securing Ligue 1 survival will be greatly increased. Allez les rouges et noirs niçois!

Monsieur Salut

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3 thoughts on “So near, so far: Wigan to Newcastle, Lens to Lorient”

  1. It’s a brave man who will predict anyone for the drop. Staggering to think that the bottom half is separated by only 8 points (27-35). A 1-0 win and a draw will change things completely for anyone. Wigan and Birmingham are short on goals and Wolves problem is keeping them out. I always fancy a team that can score goals as having a better chance so I think Wolves will escape eventually (and I hope so for Mick). Blackpool can play some good football and will win games that a lot of people expect them to lose. They have a good spirit in their squad and will pull together. I thought WBA were looking a better side this time than on their previous forays, but they are struggling. Sacking Di Matteo was a bad decision, and appointing Hodgson a worse one in my mind. Apart from one good season in English football he’s been a disaster at both Blackburn and Liverpool. I think he will take the Baggies down.

    Wigan, Birmingham and WBA for me.

  2. In England, Blackpool and Birmingham (both sadly) and Wigan.

    Over the channel: Alrles, Lens and Nancy

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