Salut! week: Birmingham woes, sadness for Fraizer (except in Hull)

This is the weekly digest of what has been going on at Salut! Sunderland for readers in a hurry. It started as most weeks do these days, scratching heads and pointing fingers after one more defeat to add to our growing collection. But there’s been much, more more …

There has not been much to cheer us up of late. So you may wish to skip all the navel-gazing that went on after the 2-0 defeat at St Andrew’s, when we were simply unable to turn our dominance for much of the game into a goal or two.

Read moreSalut! week: Birmingham woes, sadness for Fraizer (except in Hull)

French Fancies: no cup joy for Eric Roy or Arsenal Ladies


French women are doing OK, but there’s mixed news of the footballing men of Salut! Sunderland‘s choice. Here’s another of our looks at French football …

Since a lot of readers are coming this way from the Sunderland Women’s Football Club site, thanks to a terrific piece Rob Hutchison wrote here about a women’s game he attended and which has been flagged there, I ought to cross the Ts on the Arsenal v Lyon semi-final of the female equivalent of the Champions’ League.

No apologies for repeating the clip showing two beautifully taken goals by Lyon’s Lotta Schelin in the first leg at the Stade de Gerland. Two-nil up, they gave themselves a decent cushion for the return leg just outside London – and well as making me think Steve Bruce could do worse than sign Lotta on emergency loan to play alongside Asamoah Gyan for our remaining games.

Read moreFrench Fancies: no cup joy for Eric Roy or Arsenal Ladies

Lyon outclass Arsenal, Barnet beat Sunderland: just a man’s game?

That’s the Sunderland Women’s Football team you can see. Their exploits deserve more publicity (as well as a fairer deal from the FA). French media, on the other hand, gave good coverage to the Lyon women’s team which beat Arsenal Ladies 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions’ League semi-final with two excellent finishes by Lotta Schelin (*see footnote for clip). More than 20,000 turned up at OL’s Stade de Gerland; let us see whether the Gunnerettes can overturn the lead in tomorrow’s return game in London. To Rob Hutchison, the notion that women can actually play quite well is relatively recent. But he’s a convert …

For years, I’d scoffed at the thought of girls, yes girls, playing football.

They ain’t strong enough, they can’t tackle, they can’t kick a ball properly, they can’t head it, they’re too soft. All are comments so often heard when “blerks” talk about women’s football. But gradually the profile is rising, with more internationals on free-to-air TV and more and more media coverage.

Read moreLyon outclass Arsenal, Barnet beat Sunderland: just a man’s game?

Forget Spearing’s dive for Liverpool: Lyon’s cheat in a different class

James Forrest & Dejan LovrenImage: Ronnie Macdonald (Lovren, right, practises ballet skills in Lyon v Celtic, Emirates Cup)

No complaints about today’s result. Whatever justified grievances we have with the match officials, Liverpool deserved to win and we deserved nowt. And, in the latest from our French Fancies series about football on the other side of the Channel, we identify a much nastier example of the ugly face of football …

In one way Jay Spearing is not a cheat at all. But then nor, in one way, was Gary McAllister. Both were indeed fouled by Sunderland players, so falling over was not an impossible consequence.

Their status as cheats is judged on what happened next. The fouls occurred outside the penalty area and the fouled players proceeded to float though the air (McAllister) or run and plunge (Spearing) to land well inside the box.

Read moreForget Spearing’s dive for Liverpool: Lyon’s cheat in a different class

John Mensah: will the real Steve Bruce please stand up?


In all the current transfer talk, one subject occupies Colin Randall‘s attention more than most: the future of a player who excelled in South Africa, just as he did – when fit – for Sunderland last season. The signals from the Stadium of Light are mixed …

Steve Bruce was in understandably dismissive mood when presented with a list of the players he is allegedly trying to sign.

Read moreJohn Mensah: will the real Steve Bruce please stand up?

Rooting for Marseille and Le Mans amid French football scandals

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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

Au revoir, Bordeaux: not such a big club after all

chamakh

France, Tuesday: Bordeaux went out of the Champions’ League tonight, beating Lyon 1-0 but losing 3-2 on aggregate. Salut! Sunderland allowed itself a small cheer as it said farewell to the pantomime baddies of winemaking country …

Last summer, Salut! Sunderland decided to have a spot of fun at the expense of the French champions Bordeaux.

Not because we felt les Girondins deserved no credit for the superb run-in that brought them the Ligue 1 title last season. Not because they haven’t got good players and an enthusiastic, if smallish, band of spectators. And not because they continually found room, if mainly as a sub, for David Bellion, known at Sunderland for long, exciting runs that ended with the ball hoofed into the Wear.

No, it was all because the preposterous Bordeaux chairman, Jean-Louis Triaud, who really should stick to winemaking, aided and abetted by his hitherto blameless manager, Laurent Blanc, chose to insult Sunderland AFC. It was their punishment, imposed on us for trying to bring the Bordeaux striker, Marouane Chamakh, to the infinitely superior Premier League.

Who are Sunderland? Where did they finish up in the Premier? Chamakh can go, but only to a big club. These were the words on les lèvres bordelaises. Trouble was, no “big club” at the time especially wanted him. Worse, a glance at the history of Bordeaux and Sunderland showed both had six top flight championships (admittedly, in our case, from long, long ago!). A glance at more recent history showed that the relatively small city of Sunderland had an underperforming team drawing average home gates of 40,000; Bordeaux, self-designated as part of the European elite, struggled some weeks to get above 30,000.

Tonight, I settled down in France to watch the second leg of the Lyon-Bordeaux Chanpions’ League quarter-final. It was 3-1 at Lyon, to the home team. And Lyon began the return in far more positive mood than opponents seeking to overturn or match a two-goal margin.

For long periods, Bordeaux seemed to have one key tactic: fall over often and theatrically enough to get Aly Cissokho sent off. It was good cut-and-thrust stuff of the sort we saw in our Championship (Ligue 2 to the French) promotion seasons, and eventually Bordeaux bustled enough to grab a goal, courtesy of a wicked deflection.

They proceeded to fall a lot, hustle a lot, dive a lot and occasionally threaten Hugo Loris’s goal (he even had to pull off a Craig Gordon-style save near the end, from Wendel’s powerful header). It petered out with a bit of Lyonnais keep-ball in the Bordeaux half.

But in a way the result did not much matter. A run of bad results has seen Bordeaux lose the French league cup final against Marseille, slip from number one position in Ligue 1 and now join Manchester United as Champions’ league also-rans. What we saw tonight was frantic but uncultured. And though the top four in France may be a little better than we thought it was, it is still Fulham/Everton/Villa, not Chelsea/Man United or even poor, Messi-struck Arsenal.

Even so, Salut! Sunderland thought it was time for a cesser-le-feu. Our hostilities against Bordeaux, or rather its president and – to a lesser extent – manager, have run their course. It’s been fun, but we need to liberate a bit of space down the left-hand sidebar.

And in any case, who needs Marouane Chamakh when we’ve got Darren Bent?

Colin Randall


* Caricature of Chamakh from our electronic friend and (presumably disconsolate) Bordeaux fan Kamini-le-ouf. See his Flickr pages at this link.
Kamini knows Salut! Sunderland sympathises with his fellow fans, pleased as we are to see M Triaud with a little egg on his face.