French Fancies: Stee…eeeeed’s near the top of the world

Image: Addick-tedKevin

The Mag hordes have departed, taking with them the smug smiles we can but wish we had been wearing since 2pm on Saturday. On my own reckoning, there must have been 15,000 visits over the weekend from Newcastle supporters eager to gloat. And they didn’t even buy a mug between them! As for Sunderland, we now face an important week on the road, with effective performances a must at Brighton and Swansea. But first of all, let’s have another look at football across the Channel…

Three games into the French season, Steed Malbranque has finally had his first taste of Ligue 1 football since the move from Sunderland to St Etienne (might a touch of his creativity made a difference on Saturday?).

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French Fancies: PSG flop good for football, allez Stee…eed

Image: Abdullah Al-Naser

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.

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French Fancies: a day that broke some hearts in Monte Carlo

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 …

Patrice Carteron

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.

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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