French fancies: feeble Bordeaux, hapless Arles-Avignon

If you have no interest in French football, scroll down to explore the rest of what appears at Salut! Sunderland or wander off for a trip round northern towns at the parent site Salut! or to read about folk and roots music at Salut! Live.

But regulars will know that from time to time, M Salut honours the French side of his family – I may have grown up in County Durham but Mme S comes from Le Mans, where our own Stéphane Sessègnon played for two season – by reporting on Ligue 1.

Read moreFrench fancies: feeble Bordeaux, hapless Arles-Avignon

French fancies: not so Nice for Eric Roy

Before we get hopelessly bogged down with pre-derby coverage, Monsieur Salut gets up early to update events in France …

After an uplifting victory over St Etienne, who are doing well in the French Ligue 1 for the first time in years, the team every Sunderland supporter should keep a soft spot for – Nice, managed by Eric Roy – resumed their mini-slide.

A 1-0 defeat in Lens was the disappointing result from Nice’s weekend (and heaven knows how they got back from the grim north to the sunny Med with all those fuel blockades). So the Lads/les Mecs slip to 13th (our finishing position last season) when victory would have taken them to seventh (where we are now).

Read moreFrench fancies: not so Nice for Eric Roy

Salut’s French corner: pity poor Arles-Avignon

Thank heavens the Premier’s back: our Blackburn Rovers preview will appear soon …

Nice remain our team of choice, thanks to the Sunderland link established by Eric Roy’s position as coach, in Ligue 1. They have slipped of late, losing twice after a bright start, but gained a useful 0-0 draw at the improving (if still charmless, on account of their fans) Paris St Germain. But spare a thought, in our occasional look at French football, for the bottom club …

Pretty name for a football club, summoning images of an exotic bullfighting history (Arles) – la corrida in France is just as bloody, and therefore controversial, as the Spanish version – and a nursery rhyme about dancing on the bridge (Avignon).

That, sadly, is all that is attractive about the present plight of AC Arles-Avignon.

Things have not exactly been easy since the romantic promotion of last season, the highest – and perhaps only obvious – achievement in a club history of almost 100 years. This is how the Ligue 1 bottom four looks:

17 Olympique Lyonnais 8 2 2 4 7 11 -4 8
18 AS Nancy Lorraine 8 2 2 4 9 15 -6 8
19 RC Lens 8 1 2 5 7 17 -10 5
20 AC Arles Avignon 8 0 0 8 3 20 -17 0

Today, the new Bosnian coach Faruk Hadzibegic takes his embattled team up to Brittany to play against fifth-placed Brest, best known of late for the president’s admirable ban on his players isolating themselves in earphones and pulled down baseball caps when in public and demonstrably on club duty.

With or without iPod music to fire them up, Brest should easily inflict yet another defeat on Arles-Avignon. But can a top-flight team go through an entire season without getting as much as a draw? Would Arles-Avignon be able to list such an eventuality in the currently empty list of honours? Or are we worrying too soon on their behalf?

Perhaps a mighty comeback is about to start and Arles-Avignon will end the season jostling for safety with our hated Girondins de Bordeaux, fans clambering for tickets at the 17,000-place stadium. That’s more like it. So with apologies to Eric Roy – good luck against second top St Etienne tomorrow, Eric (Rennes are still in first place, and still counting all that money from us for Gyan) – let’s start rooting, if only a little, for poor little Arles-Avignon.

Monsieur Salut!

NB: Nice 2 Bordeaux 1, Newcastle 0 Blackpool 2

Nice, or Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d’Azur to give them their splendid full title, are – for the uninitiated – the team Salut! Sunderland looks out for in France. They had as good a weekend as the Tangerine-clad men from the slightly less sunny English seaside ….

Nota bene the two results. Rather a neat bit of alliteration to mark two minor causes for celebration at Salut!’s Nice Corner, our regular look at French football.

There isn’t too much of a French connection in Blackpool’s balloon-pricking win at St James’ Park.

Read moreNB: Nice 2 Bordeaux 1, Newcastle 0 Blackpool 2

Gyan: gyannen to sign or what?

Update: from the Sunderland Echo: photographs of Asamoah Gyan arriving at Newcastle Airport have been posted on Facebook.

For Salut! Sunderland’s Nice corner – our regular look at French football – I scoured today’s L’Equipe in vain hope of finding authoritative news that Asamoah Gyan is already booking his passage from Rennes to Roker.

One or two other French reports were still talking of our interest in bolstering an attack “trop dépendant de Darren Bent” as one put it. But the emphasis was more along the lines of “Sunderland not abandoning hope of signing…” than “Sunderland set to clinch deal ..”.

Read moreGyan: gyannen to sign or what?

Arsenal, Chelsea & Newcastle six-hitters leave French dreaming

Salut!’s Nice corner, our regular look at French football and in particular the exploits of our team of choice Nice, finds a club manager casting an envious gaze across the Channel …

No sexy football please, we’re French. After all the fun the French have had over the years at the expenses of the supposedly sexless British, it is our turn to gloat.

As Arsenal, Chelsea and – whisper it – Toon won their weekend games with an aggregate of 18-0, Ligue 1 stuttered to a customary cluster of scoreless draws and low-scoring wins.

Read moreArsenal, Chelsea & Newcastle six-hitters leave French dreaming

Salut!’s Nice corner: Eric Roy 4 Jean-Louis Triaud 0

This old clip, starting with Eric Roy waltzing through the Chelsea defence to set up Niall Quinn’s first goal in that 4-1 hammering of too long ago, seemed as good a way as any of illustrating a quick look at events in French football over the weekend.

The team Eric now manages, Nice, who therefore qualify for Salut! Sunderland support in the way Paraguay and Ghana did in the World Cup. came back from the long trip to Brittany with three points after an excellent 2-1 win over Lorient. Loïc Remy, for whom each game is described as probably his last for Nice (Marseille have joined the clubs wanting him but Spurs look favourites) got the winner.

Read moreSalut!’s Nice corner: Eric Roy 4 Jean-Louis Triaud 0

Salut!’s Nice corner: a drab draw as Marseille fall from the heights


Good wins for moneyed QPR, Keano’s Ipswich, Millwall and Hull City – and back down to earth for Leeds – in what we must learn to call the Npower Championship but Salut! Sunderland observes a pre-season pledge to look out for Eric Roy’s Nice team in the French top flight. Not, however, a great opening match …

Read moreSalut!’s Nice corner: a drab draw as Marseille fall from the heights

Eric Roy on passion and frustration in Sunderland

Salut! Sunderland chats to Eric Roy, a man whose time at the Stadium of Light was, sadly, short but who is remembered with great fondness by many supporters …

See also: why Salut! Sunderland is supporting Nice

There are players who go for season after season for most their careers, giving their all for Sunderland. There are players whose magical – or maybe just full-blooded – performances, as goalstoppers, goalmakers or goalscorers, leave indelible memories.

And there are those recognised by discerning fans as oozing class but who, for any reason from persistent injury to managerial misjudgement, play so rarely that they must have something special to remain in people’s minds almost 10 years after moving on with only 27 games and a solitary goal to show for a season-and-a-half at the club.

Step forward Eric Roy, a midfielder possessing the sort of gifts only a fairly blinkered management team could fail to appreciate. The same Eric Roy who, in the post only a few days ago but nine or 10 years since he last kicked a ball for SAFC, received a request out of the blue from a Sunderland fan asking for his autograph.

Read moreEric Roy on passion and frustration in Sunderland

Nice tale about ‘ooh aah’ Eric Roy

00-01 Eric Roy Match Worn Shirt
Image: Sunderland shirts

Despite the tone of recent pieces, there IS still something good to say about French football. Needless to say, there’s a strong Sunderland connection here …

Salut! Sunderland has hit upon an obvious choice of team to support in the French top-flight Ligue 1 that kicks off a week on Saturday. It did no harm to Paraguay in the World Cup, backed by this site in honour of their Sunderland players (Paulo da Sila and Cristian Riveros) and red and white stripes. And now we hope our cheerful allegiance to the Olympique Gymnaste club de Nice will bring even more sunshine to the Mediterranean coast than it already enjoys.

Think back to a cold Saturday afternoon in Sunderland. Dec 4 1999. Not a bit like the Cote d’Azur.

Read moreNice tale about ‘ooh aah’ Eric Roy