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.
Very soon, Steed Malbranque and his mates will kick off for L’Olympique Lyonnais at Stade Brestois.
Sadly, only an 11-0 win would take Lyon back to the top of Ligue 1, but any win would at least put them on equal points with Paris Saint-Germain. (Update: they didn’t score 11, managing only a 1-1 draw)
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.
Stop press: Dec 2 – PSG lose at Nice – YES!! – while Steed’s Lyon beat Montpellier to go five points clear at the top pending Marseille’s later game …
French Fancies makes a brief appearance amid all the understandable glee inspired by only Sunderland’s second victory of the season. Fans of Steed Malbranque and Adam Johnson, and all who disapprove of moneybags PSG, will like this one …
Today I came across a churlish French report of Lyon’s 3-0 victory over Reims that echoed last night’s debate at the Blackcats list on Sunderland’s 3-1 win at Fulham.
Someone at the list – he is almost always an astute observer of matters SAFC – was saying Adam Johnson had a stinker; OK, not quite that bad, but these are not words of praise, “Johnson was again pretty naff”.
This was the same Adam Johnson whose perfect pass set up Steven Fletcher for the first goal and whose excellent corner found the head of Carlos Cuellar. And we should not mock praise for a player mastering such a basic element of footballing technique; corners are not something we get right too often. And wasn’t it also AJ that had a great shot of his own magnificently saved by Mark Schwarzer?
And so to Ligue 1. I said l’Olympique Lyonnais (OL) offered the best hope of frustrating filthy rich Paris Saint-Germain this season as Montpellier did last season.
The weekend ended with OL top as they brushed aside Reims. Two of the three goals came from fine work by Steed Malbranque, the first a clinical cross from which Gomis scored at the second attempt, his first shot hitting the bar, and the second an exquisite defence-splitting ball to send Lisandro clear.
Time for some more lavish tributes to our resurgent old boy?
Not quite. “Even if he made the decisive pass for Lisandro’s goal, he was not up to his usual standard and made some bad choices,” read the player-by-player assessment at football.fr.
These are the kind alleged “off-days”, Steed’s and AJ’s, that supporters probably learn to live with.
Up in Paris, Rennes were down to nine men for 40 minutes but still beat PSG 2-1. Carlo Ancelotti said afterwards he was not afraid to talk of crisis and everyone who does not support his club probably smiled.
I had hoped to bring news that a great favourite of mine, Steed Malbranque, had today been called up for a French friendly against Italy. Shame on Didier Deschamps, the national coach. He admitted that our former midfielder’s magnificent form for Lyon had made him think; clearly not quite enough. He cited his Steed’s – 33 in January – and said: “Today, he’s a very interesting proposition but what about six months or a year from now? … [but] there are no age limits and if he maintains this standard of play I will need to reflect more deeply on the matter”. Hope they lose for want of midfield creativity!
So on to the notorious but fun Salut! Sunderland Guess the Score competition. Everton fans are welcome to take part.
What a great French word is étincelant. It means sparkling but you could stretch it to scintillating. And that is how our – as in how I wish he were still ours – Steed Malbranque played for L’Olympique Lyonnais as they walloped Bastia 5-2 in pouring rain on Sunday night.
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.
Just the quickest of French Fancies to alert Salut! Sunderland readers – not including Jeremy Robson, who professes to stop caring about players once they leave SAFC – to another excellent showing by our old favourite Steed Malbranque, taking full advantage of the new lease of footballing life extended by his first club, l’Olympique Lyonnais.
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.