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.
Let us be quite clear: whoever was responsible for the story that Steed Malbranque had retired from football because his young son had cancer – when, in fact, no such son and therefore no such illness-related decision exist – was either spectacularly misinformed, or downright nasty, or both.
What a shame that Steed Malbranque has let it be know he is on the point of giving up football.
Only 31, and just 26 minutes into his new career at St Etienne, the former Sunderland midfielder has personal problems and appeared a troubled figure when he spoke to the Ligue 1 club’s manager Christophe Galtier on the eve of yesterday’s game at Sochaux.
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?).
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.
Pete Sixsmith was indeed at both Hartlepool and Darlington – I can barely bring myself to write The Northern Echo Darlington Arena, even if I did work for that august journal in what I fondly imagine to have been its heyday – but was defeated by technology at Darlo (he’d left his phone at home). This, then, is his full account of two comfortable wins …
One game to go before the season opener at Anfield and at Sixsmith Towers there is a growing feeling of optimism for season 2011-12. The Easter Road workout will surely give the final pointers to the line up Steve Bruce will go for on August 13.
The two games this week will have given him much to think about and also much to be pleased with. Of the two, the Hartlepool one was of far more use than the trip to Darlington, with it being against a higher ranking club and with a more competitive edge.
Out of the Light, into the Cauldron … Salut! Sunderland offers thanks and best wishes to Steed Malbranque …
M Salut and M Malbranque can talk freely over a good bottle of sturdy Côtes du Rhône without fear of complaint from me if he happens to be chainsmoking Gauloises throughout.
We’d be able to agree that this football business can be, not to mince words, merdique. You win a place in the hearts of most of the fans of your club only to be sold on during some restructuring programme that leaves you “not featuring in the boss’s future plans”.
The news from down the A19 was that Sunderland won comfortably, 3-1 with goals from Gyan, Colback and Larsson.
Better still, Pete Sixsmith reports from the game, we took it seriously and the match produced “some good pointers”. Ian Porter, at Blackcats, was also encouraged by what he saw (see footnote*).
A Fulham supporter whose photos have graced these pages was all lined up, then went AWOL. Just when we thought we’d have to run the spoof Lily Allen interview all over again, Sean Collins popped up – courtesy of the Fulhamfc site, to which huge thanks for indulging a Mackem in despair – with these instant, and therefore all the more appreciated, responses. We could, however, have done without his score forecast …
Salut! Sunderland: You drew against one relegation struggler at the weekend, we finally won against another struggler and you had a great result last night. A good time or bad time for us to have you up at the Stadium of Light?
A bad time in my opinion for Sunderland, due to a mixture of your unfortunate injuries and our players that have come back from injury looking sharper, the likes of Zamora, and especially Simon Davies who was exceptional last night.
What, then, is the legacy of Roy Hodgson, the Fulham view of him now and the verdict on Mark Hughes so far?
The legacy of Roy will always stay as it was, a stand-out period in the club’s history and done with honest hard work and genuine team spirit. Mark Hughes took a while to grow into the job, a task made harder by injuries to key players, but he now seems to be stamping his own authority on the side and a top 10 finish would be respectable.
More graphic design wizardry from addick-tedKevin, but also a few words of appreciation for the efforts so far from two of our players – plus unqualified admiration for Darren Bent’s outstanding response to a worthy honour…
First of all, on the eve of Sunderland v Arsenal, let us hear it for two stars of our (slowly) improving season.
Steed Malbranque’s performances have oozed class, and even a level of stamina we didn’t know he possessed.
And Kieran Richardson, not always as convincing a member of our first team squad as discerning SAFC fans would like, has surely confounded critics with a string of excellent displays in a left-back position he was asked to fill in the first place because there was no one else good enough.