French Fancies: Nice work, Le Mans race downwards, PSG au revoir to Becks

rct

Our last look of the season at French football takes in ups and downs and (tenuous) Sunderland links at both ends of the table …


The poster for Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon rugby club
at the nearby Toulon-Hyères airport gives you an idea of which shape of ball matters most in the area Monsieur Salut calls home. Winners of the Heineken cup in Dublin (against Clermont) and this coming weekend in the French championship cup final against Castres. Wilkinson, who just keeps on scoring match after match, has become a local hero.

But another thirtysomething English sportsman in France has been prominent in the French press. As everyone knows, David Beckham was warmly received for his short sojourn at Paris Saint-Germain and, after neither disgracing himself nor covering himself in glory in his relatively limited playing time, has now retired. Le Journal du Dimanche wished him well but could not resist mentioning that he’d made “only two decisive passes” in his PSG career.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Nice work, Le Mans race downwards, PSG au revoir to Becks

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

Olympique de Marseille: les felicitations de sa gracieuse majestie

om


If Pete Sixsmith can swan off to Scotland in his traditional FA Cup Final avoidance mode, I can be allowed to indulge my passing interest in French football. Can’t really speak for the Queen, though …

… un grand bienvenue aux supporters de Marseille en provenance du site OM Planete

Well, we should own up that we can only guess the emotions of the English monarch as OM step out tonight to celebrate their first Ligue 1 title for 18 years in what should be party style, top versus bottom with poor, relegated, 20th placed Grenoble as lambs for the slaughter.

Of course, there could be a shock away win. But Marseille have the championship and while Salut! Sunderland has no idea of the travel plans of Lorik Cana and Bolo Zenden this weekend, we couldn’t be remotely surprised to hear they at least considered a trip to the stade Vélodrome for old time’s sake.

Read moreOlympique de Marseille: les felicitations de sa gracieuse majestie

Rooting for Marseille and Le Mans amid French football scandals

om

Whatever Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Sidney Govou did or did not get up to after tiring of all those discussions on Molière, Voltaire and Baudelaire with young Zahia Dehar, there are still football issues to decide in France …

Forget (for a moment) the sex scandal. Forget Thierry Henri’s outrageous handball against Ireland (and at least Ribery & & co have taken the heat off him ahead of South Africa).

Read moreRooting for Marseille and Le Mans amid French football scandals