Top news from France: our old favourite Steed Malbranque, having walked out on Saint-Etienne soon after joining them from Sunderland last summer, has landed on his feet.
Salut! Sunderland looks forward in all senses to the last home game of the season, when we expect no slacking despite our affection for Wolverhampton Wanderers and our desire for them to stay up (though 5-2 again would be rubbing it in; 1-0 will do). And we look back over a week that started well. This is the weekly digest of Salut! Sunderland‘s efforts to inform, amuse and inspire …
For once – well, twice or three times in the past four months – we began the week in happy frame of mind.
The last-gasp winner at Bolton was exactly what the doctor ordered and given Sunderland’s appalling run not only of form but of luck, we need apologise to no one about the merits or otherwise, as described by Owen Coyne, of those three priceless points.
There was plenty to read here about that match. And there was, as usual, more to get stuck into as the week went on. Click on the sub-heading for any item that appeals if you want to read more or read again.
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.
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.
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.
French football is in an appalling state. It was bad enough, following the Thierry Henry handball, even before the team reached South Africa. Once they got there, the rot really set in, from the awful performances to Anelka’s foul-mouthed rant, from the players’ revolt to the manager Raymond Domenech’s disgraceful refusal to shake the hand of his South African counterpart. But wIll the sidelining of Domenech and a single match ban on the striking players make everything all right? …
Even I am beginning to tire of hearing about the rotten state of French football. But comments posted here recently prompt me to reflect on the latest developments.
The millionaires’ mutiny in South Africa was a shameful but logical extension of the self-centred, scowling arrogance of the modern game.
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.
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?
* 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.
Colin Randall treads difficult domestic territory, braves the disapproval of a French wife and two half-French daughters and, setting himself up as judge, jury and La Cour de Cassation, finds two of the above guilty as charged …
Not every Englishman is a BNP thug who steams through French railway carriages singing: “If it wasn’t for the English, you’d be Krauts.”
We don’t all subscribe to the “lovely country, shame about the people” jibe – though I actually heard it recently on the lips of my French barber (a necessarily short encounter). Some of us even marry ’em, Frenchwomen that is not the barbers.
But what are we to make of the behaviour of three Frenchmen, clues to whose identities appear in the headline? Two are easy to guess; the third is largely unknown in England unless you support Sunderland and therefore feel that Jean-Louis Triaud, president of the Girondins de Bordeaux football club, is a cross between arrogant oaf and prize clown.
Until the Marouane Chamakh farce began, we had nothing against Bordeaux. Liked the city (though not too much), loved the (overpriced) wine, respected Laurent Blanc’s championship-winning achievements, albeit in a relatively weak league. Mais zut alors! M Blanc and his equally blank president have sorely tested our patience, and the entente cordiale …
In deference to the French half or, rather, third of its name, Salut! Sunderland had lately suspended hostilities against Bordeaux, hostilities aimed not so much at its fans* as at its arrogant, hard-of-thinking management.
But the latest outburst from the French champions’ president Jean-Louis Triaud cannot be overlooked. Having first claimed, along with the Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc that Sunderland was not a big enough club to sign Marouane Chamakh, he now says the deciding factor was Lilian Laslandes’s “depressing” spell on Wearside.