What a shame that Steed Malbranque has let it be know he is on the point of giving up football.
Only 31, and just 26 minutes into his new career at St Etienne, the former Sunderland midfielder has personal problems and appeared a troubled figure when he spoke to the Ligue 1 club’s manager Christophe Galtier on the eve of yesterday’s game at Sochaux.
He said he would not be making the journey with the squad. Galtier says Steed did not specifically say he was abandoning the game – “it wasn’t exactly what he told me but he is leaning towards it; it’s not impossible but you have to ask him the question. In any case I noticed a troubled young man and I am worried for him.”
Steed was ineligible for St Etienne’s first game but was sent on as a substitute in the draw at Marseille, where he was largely anonymous in 26 minutes on the field.
However, in the slower, more thoughtful (and much less exciting) French top tier, he could have made a mark as a mature, skillful player, for two or three more seasons.
The French football site Foot Mercato, describing Steed’s decision as “incredible”, says: “His ability to beat a player, his acceleration and his linkplay were all qualities the Chaudron (Cauldron, home to St Etienne) was impatient to see. It won’t see them. He has decided to end his career.”
The move from Sunderland seemed a good one pre-season, probably right for player and SAFC, even if we could have done with his creativity in the opening games.
Whatever his problems now (my local paper, Var-Matin, describes them as serious and they are not football-related), and whatever decision he makes concerning his footballing career if it is not already made, Salut! Sunderland wishes him bon courage.