French Fancies: Marseille fans get Steven Fletcher’s goat (and not just his)

Probably for one week only, French Fancies returns to record the latest edition of the Mediterranean exploits of one Steven Fletcher, on loan from SAFC to Marseille …

There are worse things footballers can be called than goats, as Olympique de Marseille were during Saturday’s 0-0 draw on Saturday, a 14th home game in Ligue 1 without a win.

If the people calling you goats also happen to accompany the jibe with the Benny Hill theme tune played from the stands, it seems even less wounding as an insult.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Marseille fans get Steven Fletcher’s goat (and not just his)

Wishing Fletcher well at Marseille, wishing he’d achieved more at Sunderland

Doing his bit for Hipster's everywhere
Doing his bit for Hipsters everywhere

No man should blame another for fancying a few months in the vibrant Mediterranean city of Marseille. If Joey Barton can return unscathed, so can Steven Fletcher.

It is a surprising move in the sense that many of us expected him to end up at Celtic or West Ham, maybe, not to go abroad. But no one will be shocked to see him go somewhere, with just the rest of the season to run on his contract and no appetite on Big Sam’s part for prolonging his stay.

Read moreWishing Fletcher well at Marseille, wishing he’d achieved more at Sunderland

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

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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: Newcastle 0 SAFC 3 un show unique, says L’Equipe

No need to translate: for L'Equipe, it was 'une victoire amplement méritée'
No need to translate: for L’Equipe, it was ‘une victoire amplement méritée’

It is not often that a Sunderland game features so prominently in the French press. Even though the sports daily, L’Equipe, covers the Premier League reasonably well, you can guess which teams dominate their columns.

Today is different. Paolo Di Canio’s exuberant celebration of each goal at St James’ Park gets the generous illustration you see and is then described in full in the text.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Newcastle 0 SAFC 3 un show unique, says L’Equipe

French Fancies: Beckham’s PSG flick and Toure’s sensational Brest dive

Jake: l'artist
Jake: l’artist

A booming burst of Hey Jude, the familiar broad Essex smile and a clever flicked pass to helped Ménez set up the second Paris Saint-Germain goal, off the knee of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, otherwise poor to the extent of being whistled at by his own fans, are on French lips today.

But David Beckham’s debut for PSG, big an event as it deemed to be on both sides of the Channel, was not for me the most memorable feature of the Ligue 1 weekend.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Beckham’s PSG flick and Toure’s sensational Brest dive

French Fancies: Steed shines in defeat, Marseille flop, PSG rampant

We're not suggesting Steed had a smoke beforehand

For those who like my occasional updates from the French league, the big news of the weekend was that Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille chose in different ways to reinforce the idea that it is PSG and the rest in Ligue 1.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Steed shines in defeat, Marseille flop, PSG rampant

French Fancies: Steed stars as Lyon chase Joey Barton’s new Marseille pals

We're not suggesting Steed had a smoke beforehand


Salut! Sunderland
was happy to report recently that Steed Malbranque, so often impressive for Sunderland, had ended his break from football and won a one-year deal at Lyon, one of France’s top three and the club where he started out.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Steed stars as Lyon chase Joey Barton’s new Marseille pals

Memo to Joey Barton: remember how scores are settled in Marseille

Jake brightens up the site again

This started out as a contribution to Salut! Sunderland‘s new presence on the FC Network corner of the ESPN site. Click here to see what has already appeared. A few hours passed without the piece appearing and Joey Barton himself then let it be known the loan deal with Marseille was now unlikely to go ahead. Now it looks back on again (he is in Marseilles this afternoon, Wednesday) so let us look at what he and this vibrant French city have to offer each other …

Read moreMemo to Joey Barton: remember how scores are settled in Marseille

French Fancies: Steed to Lyon, PSG stutter, Bordeaux forgiven over Chamakh

Steed MalbranqueImage: addick-tedKevin

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.

Read moreFrench Fancies: Steed to Lyon, PSG stutter, Bordeaux forgiven over Chamakh