There’s no meaningful football to write about so let’s stick to nostalgia.
Years after those glorious days of Johnny Crossan, there was the team of Peter Reid that stormed to a record-breaking promotion, goals and points, and then finished seventh two years running. Whatever later went wrong, Reid got something right for several seasons and we were treated to the most exciting time to be a Sunderland supporter, 1973 aside, in living memory.
Eric Roy was, for a very short time, part of that excitement. It was perhaps a little late in his career to make a greater impact on the Premier League but his time at the Stadium of Light is remembered with real fondness by many. The opening goal in that 4-1 rout of Chelsea in 1999, snippets seen in the above clip, came from his superb run and then the pass to Niall Quinn. It was as heartwarming a game as I have attended in half a century of supporting Sunderland, all the more so because they’d walloped us 4-0 on the opening day, our first back in the Premier, and everyone said we were doomed.
Once again for those who missed it the first time round, when Salut! Sunderland‘s readership was much smaller, here is the result of an interview he readily gave in 2010, when manager of Nice* …
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.
Some Salut! Sunderland readers gave encouragement to the idea of maintaining our occasional look at French football. And there’s enough Sunderland interest in Ligue 1 this season to make it worthwhile …
STOP PRESS: ST ETIENNE, without Steed who was not eligible and played for the reserves instead, beat Bordeaux 2-1 away tonight – a great start and the defeat couldn’t have happened to more deserving opposition. Steed impressed in his run-out, showing plenty of verve and enthusiasm according to the official club site, though he ended up on the losing side (2-1). And is it going to an Arles-Avignon sort of season for Patrice Carteron’s Dijon? Walloped 5-1 at home by Gyan’s old club Rennes!
The headline in Saturday morning’s Le Figaro had the whole of French football trying to play catch-up with the Man City-style flash boys of Paris Saint-Germain. PSG flaunted their new Qatari-sourced wealth by spending the ludicrous sum of €43m for Palermo’s Argentinian attacking midfielder Javier Pastore just too late to start the season last night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Just as my back was turned – back in England for a few days – Eric Roy’s Nice took their first defeat of the season and it was a grim-sounding 4-0 thumping at Sochaux.
And then went out in the League Cup – which may seem familiar to Sunderland fans – in midweek, though at least the scoreline was more respectable (2-0) and it was away to this week’s Ligue 1 leaders, St Etienne (it’ll probably be someone else top next week).
Raymond Domenech cut a pathetic figure as French team coach in South Africa, humiliated by his players during the Mutiny of Knysna and then bringing his country into further disrepute with an act of gross discourtesy as France tumbled out of the World Cup. The players have been punished; now it’s his turn …
France also had a weekend off for internationals and probably wishes it hadn’t after yet again failing to score (in Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Belarus in Paris). But the big news is the dismissal of by the French Football Federation of Raymond Domenech for his part in the scandal of Les Bleus in South Africa.