Any day now, we may hear from some football official in Sao Paulo, having taken lessons from the Uruguayan FA following the Luis Suarez biting scandal, that Europeans just don’t understand Latin American footballing traditions.
There are clues as to what possessed Bastia’s Brazilian Evaeverson Lemos da Silva, commonly known as Marlon Brandão, to lie in wait as the teams walked towards the dressing rooms after PSG’s 2-0 victory at the Parc des Princes on Saturday night.
He then butted another Brazilian-born player, Thiago Motta, breaking his nose (NB to sub-editors the English-speaking world over: headbutt it tautologous) before scampering off with Motta and bloodied nose in pursuit. See the clip below.
Stop press: Dec 2 – PSG lose at Nice – YES!! – while Steed’s Lyon beat Montpellier to go five points clear at the top pending Marseille’s later game …
French Fancies makes a brief appearance amid all the understandable glee inspired by only Sunderland’s second victory of the season. Fans of Steed Malbranque and Adam Johnson, and all who disapprove of moneybags PSG, will like this one …
Today I came across a churlish French report of Lyon’s 3-0 victory over Reims that echoed last night’s debate at the Blackcats list on Sunderland’s 3-1 win at Fulham.
Someone at the list – he is almost always an astute observer of matters SAFC – was saying Adam Johnson had a stinker; OK, not quite that bad, but these are not words of praise, “Johnson was again pretty naff”.
This was the same Adam Johnson whose perfect pass set up Steven Fletcher for the first goal and whose excellent corner found the head of Carlos Cuellar. And we should not mock praise for a player mastering such a basic element of footballing technique; corners are not something we get right too often. And wasn’t it also AJ that had a great shot of his own magnificently saved by Mark Schwarzer?
And so to Ligue 1. I said l’Olympique Lyonnais (OL) offered the best hope of frustrating filthy rich Paris Saint-Germain this season as Montpellier did last season.
The weekend ended with OL top as they brushed aside Reims. Two of the three goals came from fine work by Steed Malbranque, the first a clinical cross from which Gomis scored at the second attempt, his first shot hitting the bar, and the second an exquisite defence-splitting ball to send Lisandro clear.
Time for some more lavish tributes to our resurgent old boy?
Not quite. “Even if he made the decisive pass for Lisandro’s goal, he was not up to his usual standard and made some bad choices,” read the player-by-player assessment at football.fr.
These are the kind alleged “off-days”, Steed’s and AJ’s, that supporters probably learn to live with.
Up in Paris, Rennes were down to nine men for 40 minutes but still beat PSG 2-1. Carlo Ancelotti said afterwards he was not afraid to talk of crisis and everyone who does not support his club probably smiled.
What a great French word is étincelant. It means sparkling but you could stretch it to scintillating. And that is how our – as in how I wish he were still ours – Steed Malbranque played for L’Olympique Lyonnais as they walloped Bastia 5-2 in pouring rain on Sunday night.
This week, we combine a very brief Salut! Sunderland’s Week with an even briefer French Fancies …
No need to rely on the French speakers in the Sunderland squad – Sess and Mig for starters but who knows what other linguists lurk in the dressing room? – to get the message of this photo, taken at the home ground of the French Ligue 1 side (for now) Nancy, across in time for the Britannia. We’re not talking A level or degree stuff.
Do not worry. Salut! Sunderland is not about to test your digestive systems with another reference to andouillettes, re-encountered on a recent trip to Paris to catch Sunderland the play.
The clip appears as a mark of respect to the supporters of Montpellier – Montpellier Hérault Sport Club in full – who made the long journey to Paris at the weekend and were rewarded with a 2-2 draw against moneybags PSG to stay within a point of them at the top of Ligue 1.
They came up with the marvellous chant at the Parc des Princes:
Vous avez le Qatar, nous avons le gros lard.
The first bit is easy, simply reflecting the present ownership of Paris Saint-Germain.
The second – le gros lard meaning fatso – honours one Louis “Loulou” Nicollin, president of Montpellier and seemingly a man who ate all the pies, and probably Desperate Dan’s cow pies at that, followed by all the chips, all the Big Texans, all the McDo quarterpounders and all the pâtisserie and ice cream, washing it down with gallons (or, this being France, multiples of 4.54609 litres) of non-diet cola.
Sadly, Loulou – weighing in heavily at number 311 on France’s rich list, thanks to our need for waste handling businesses of the type he runs so successfully – was not present at the stadium to enjoy the tribute to his girth. He planned to go but, fearing his attendance was all too often fatal to Montpellier’s chances, decided at the last minute to watch it at home, alone.
Since this is the first French Fancies for a while, let me bring you up to date. After PSG and Montpellier at the top come, some way behind, Lille, Marseille, Lyon and Saint-Etienne, the team for which Steed made just one substitute appearance before handing in his notice. He might at least have waited in case there was a walk-on part for him in the film to be made of Sunderland the play but with Saint-Etienne the setting instead of Wearside.
At the bottom, poor old Nice – having ditched our own Eric Roy in November – are stuck on 20 points with FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, but sit just above them on goal difference. Patrice Carteron, once the scorer of a goal for Sunderland against Newcastle United, continues to confound my gloomy forecast at the start of the season, his promoted Dijon side currently 13th, five points clear of the drop zone.
And in Ligue 2, because Pete Sixsmith likes to know about these things, we find Bastia, Reims and Clermont Foot in the promotion places with Sess’s old club and Monsieur Salut’s own city-in-law, Le Mans, fourth bottom – after just missing promotion last season – and hovering perilously above Boulogne, Monaco (how the mighty have fallen, Your Serene Highness) and Amiens.
But the week, and therefore French Fancies, belongs to Loulou, our favourite fat man.
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 …
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.
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.
Another edition of French Fancies and another irresistible pop at Bordeaux. And vote for Salut! Sunderland in the EPL TALK Club Blog awards by clicking here …
No football manager, or anyone else for that matter, should have to complain that his 16-year-old daughter was made to suffer verbal abuse from some low-life “fan” or “fans” during a match, the episode distressing or worrying enough to cause the girl to leave the stand at half-time.
So for that, Salut! Sunderland offers sympathy and support to Jean Tigana, until last night the boss of les Girondins de Bordeaux. And we’d add that we have absolutely nothing against him in any case, since he was not even at the club when the events involving Sunderland AFC occurred.
That is where sympathy ends and gloating begins. Bordeaux 0 Sochaux 4, all the goals coming in the first half, indeed the first half an hour, is a deeply satisfying result that adds a little spice to the weekend’s other gratifying scoreline of Bolton 1 SAFC 2.