The Devil’s Advocate: stop squealing, stick together. And Eric Roy agrees

Rob as seen by Jake
Rob as seen by Jake

Rob Hutchison keeps it short and, well, you can judge the sweetness … and our much-admired former midfielder Eric Roy tells us to be patient with the new or newish players …

‘Tis the season of peace and goodwill to all men, the season to be jolly, full of glad tidings and merriment.

Not in Sunderland it’s not. Martin Bain has spoken today about past failings, and the general squandering of of millions of pounds.

Read moreThe Devil’s Advocate: stop squealing, stick together. And Eric Roy agrees

Eric Roy’s Sunderland return: can he inspire class of 2016 vs Chelsea?

Eric Roy, as you may have read on these pages, returns to Sunderland – where he played briefly but with such class that one faithful reader, David Miller, commented that he’d walk into today’s side – for tomorrow’s game versus Chelsea.

Take a quick look above at how his run and pass to Niall Quinn opened up the Chelsea of 1999, a team that had humiliated us on the opening day of that season after our return to the Premier League in glory as second-tier champions.

We destroyed them in a scintillating first-half display that put us 4-0 up, the same scoreline as at the final whistle at Stamford Bridge. Quinn scored twice as did Kevin Phillips. SuperKev very nearly completed his hat trick in the second half but we allowed the characteristically self-assured Londoners a consolation goal instead of adding to their embarrassment.

Eric and I have spoken a couple of times in recent days as well as communicating by text messages and emails, and one further conversation is planned that may produce a little interview. He had hoped to stay on for the Watford game, too, but must return to France – where he is a TV football pundit – on Friday.

But can his presence at the Stadium of Light for the tough challenge of nine-wins-in-a-row Chelsea inspire the Lads of today to emulate the achievement of the team of 17 years ago?

Salut! Sunderland has interviewed Eric once before. It is worthy of a repeat appearance so here goes. But remember as you read the interview that it was conducted six years ago

Read moreEric Roy’s Sunderland return: can he inspire class of 2016 vs Chelsea?

Prize Guess the Score: cock-a-hoop Chelsea, rock bottom SAFC and Eric Roy

Jake: 'here's hoping only Chelsea have cross words after this one'
Jake: ‘here’s hoping only Chelsea have cross words after this one’


Can Sunderland make a nonsense
of the somewhat contrasting league positions and return to winning form?

No one who saw our performance at Swansea, whether at the Liberty Stadium or watching abroad or on dodgy streams, would give us the slightest chance of ending Chelsea’s run of nine straight wins.

Read morePrize Guess the Score: cock-a-hoop Chelsea, rock bottom SAFC and Eric Roy

Eric Roy: fond memories, not just of the assist that flattened Chelsea

There’s no meaningful football to write about so let’s stick to nostalgia.

Years after those glorious days of Johnny Crossan, there was the team of Peter Reid that stormed to a record-breaking promotion, goals and points, and then finished seventh two years running. Whatever later went wrong, Reid got something right for several seasons and we were treated to the most exciting time to be a Sunderland supporter, 1973 aside, in living memory.

Eric Roy was, for a very short time, part of that excitement. It was perhaps a little late in his career to make a greater impact on the Premier League but his time at the Stadium of Light is remembered with real fondness by many. The opening goal in that 4-1 rout of Chelsea in 1999, snippets seen in the above clip, came from his superb run and then the pass to Niall Quinn. It was as heartwarming a game as I have attended in half a century of supporting Sunderland, all the more so because they’d walloped us 4-0 on the opening day, our first back in the Premier, and everyone said we were doomed.

Once again for those who missed it the first time round, when Salut! Sunderland‘s readership was much smaller, here is the result of an interview he readily gave in 2010, when manager of Nice* …

Jake: 'not impressed!'
Jake: ‘not impressed!’

Read moreEric Roy: fond memories, not just of the assist that flattened Chelsea

French Fancies: Stee…eeeeed’s near the top of the world

Image: Addick-tedKevin

The Mag hordes have departed, taking with them the smug smiles we can but wish we had been wearing since 2pm on Saturday. On my own reckoning, there must have been 15,000 visits over the weekend from Newcastle supporters eager to gloat. And they didn’t even buy a mug between them! As for Sunderland, we now face an important week on the road, with effective performances a must at Brighton and Swansea. But first of all, let’s have another look at football across the Channel…

Three games into the French season, Steed Malbranque has finally had his first taste of Ligue 1 football since the move from Sunderland to St Etienne (might a touch of his creativity made a difference on Saturday?).

Read moreFrench Fancies: Stee…eeeeed’s near the top of the world

French Fancies: PSG flop good for football, allez Stee…eed

Image: Abdullah Al-Naser

Some Salut! Sunderland readers gave encouragement to the idea of maintaining our occasional look at French football. And there’s enough Sunderland interest in Ligue 1 this season to make it worthwhile …

STOP PRESS: ST ETIENNE, without Steed who was not eligible and played for the reserves instead, beat Bordeaux 2-1 away tonight – a great start and the defeat couldn’t have happened to more deserving opposition. Steed impressed in his run-out, showing plenty of verve and enthusiasm according to the official club site, though he ended up on the losing side (2-1). And is it going to an Arles-Avignon sort of season for Patrice Carteron’s Dijon? Walloped 5-1 at home by Gyan’s old club Rennes!

The headline in Saturday morning’s Le Figaro had the whole of French football trying to play catch-up with the Man City-style flash boys of Paris Saint-Germain. PSG flaunted their new Qatari-sourced wealth by spending the ludicrous sum of €43m for Palermo’s Argentinian attacking midfielder Javier Pastore just too late to start the season last night.

Read moreFrench Fancies: PSG flop good for football, allez Stee…eed

French Fancies: a day that broke some hearts in Monte Carlo

First Lewis Hamilton got himself into trouble with Formula 1 race stewards after his misfired gag – “maybe it’s because I’m black …That’s what Ali G says,” he said with a smile about being penalised in the Monaco Grand Prix – and then Monaco went down. And this, to the relief of those without the least interest in le football, is the last French Fancies of the season …

Patrice Carteron

Well Patrice Carteron’s Dijon were already up, and yesterday Eric Roy’s Nice survived the dramatic final day of Ligue 1 despite losing at Valenciennes, so once-mighty Monaco joined once-mighty Nantes in France’s Championship equivalent, Ligue 2. There was nothing much at stake at the top, of course, because the title was already Lille’s.

Monaco’s fate was in their own hands, but the fixtures list left them a tough last game, against Lyon at home, and they lost 2-0. That meant they could stay up only if Nancy stumbled at home to already-relegated Lens. Nancy 4 Lens 0 soon snipped that lifeline.

Read moreFrench Fancies: a day that broke some hearts in Monte Carlo

French Fancies: Lyon lionesses, Dijon mustard, Corsican spirit – and Evian


Last but one edition of French Fancies for the season: saluting the ladies of Lyon, commiserating with Le Mans, wishing one former Sunderland man well for tomorrow, when Ligue 1 relegation is settled, while congratulating a second on winning promotion last night. And, for once, no digs at Bordeaux

The French season is nearly over – the remaining Ligue 1 relegation issue, who goes down with Lens and Arles-Avignon, will be resolved tomorrow night. The Sunderland interest is Eric Roy, manager of Nice, who need a point at Valanciennes to be sure.

Nice could lose and still survive but would need Nancy (home to Lens) or Caen (home to Marseille) to lose, or Monaco only to draw at home to Lyon. Une histoire compliqué, as the French might say and Eric knows he’d be a fool to rely on one of the results elsewhere going his way.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Lyon lionesses, Dijon mustard, Corsican spirit – and Evian

French Fancies: hail Lille and – nearly – Patrice Carteron’s Dijon

Image: FC Lille

Lille’s 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain last night was enough to bring them the cup-and-league double – they had already beaten PSG in the final of the Coupe de France – and a promise by the club president Michel Seydoux to throw a “huge party in this marvellous city”.

That’s a great achievement for a relatively unfashionable club that will do well to hang on to its better players. It is only their third Ligue 1 title, though their second double (look back to 1946 for the first). I did help a little by predicting a comfy late cruise to the championship for Marseille but the record books are unlikely to acknowledge this contribution.

Read moreFrench Fancies: hail Lille and – nearly – Patrice Carteron’s Dijon

Remember Chamakh? The joke’s on Bordeaux now

Forgiven: a Bordeaux fan M Salut hammers at badminton

Those of you with hair have torn it out, the milk is well and truly spilt or even spilled Over at non-football Salut!, I wondered aloud whether watching Sunderland could, like smoking, seriously damage your health. It has been a week in which a supporter of West Brom, of all clubs, cockily dismissed Sunderland in his “fan’s view” for the Daily Mail as “physical, determined but limited”. And that was just the first-half, when we were ahead. So let’s change tack. Here, before we start fretting about Birmingham away, is another episode in our French Fancies series …

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Yes. I really should get out more. The time to end the ridiculous feud with Les Girondins de Bordeaux has surely past. Who cares if the club president Jean-Louis Triaud and his then manager, Laurent Blanc, insulted Sunderland AFC?

But every time I feel Salut! Sunderland should move on, bury the hatchet, find someone else to taunt, along comes an excuse to reopen hostilities with the self-important Ligue 1 underachievers who declared that Sunderland AFC were altogether too small a club to be allowed to buy Marouane Chamakh (now at Arsenal, where he scores a little and dives a lot).

Read moreRemember Chamakh? The joke’s on Bordeaux now