… in which we praise the Sunderland men who graced the Wembley turf last night and introduce you to a new team strip to end arguments over our own …
Before anything else, Salut! Sunderland salutes all the SAFC players who represented their countries in the England v Ghana friendly last night. In particular, bravo Asamoah Gyan for an equaliser to cap what was, by all accounts, an excellent game and Danny Welbeck for making his first England appearance.
At this distance – M Salut is in France – you have to rely on the reports of others.
One Sunderland supporter with Wembley tickets wondered what the England fans in the family enclosure made of his celebration of Gyan’s goal. Another sent a celebratory e-mail: “Gerrin … more of that on Saturday please.”
A third, thinking also of a certain Mr Carroll, added: “Can’t say I’ve enjoyed an England goal less and cheered the opposition scoring more than tonight. Can we have that every week please Gyan!”
While all this was going on, our own Pete Sixsmith sent a text telling me Fraizer Campbell had also scored – on his return from injury in a 1-1 draw for the Reserves v WBA. There’ll be more on that, I imagine, from Pete himself a little later, but Campbell’s recovery and confidence-boosting goal can only be good for the club.
ps … hardly worth a French Fancies posting of its own but this, believe it or not, is the new shirt of the French football team. Gone is the proud blue jersey we’re used to, in its various forms. Welcome sailor boy, and it’ll set you back €75 if you buy it from the French Football Federation.
Oui,oui it’s meant to be France’s new away top but it had its first outing last night as the home variety when France took on Croatia in a friendly at the Stade de France and … well, and stuttered to a 0-0 draw .
There were boos for Franck Ribéry, one of the villains of the World Cup mutiny, when he came on a substitute and also when his name and that of his South Africa accomplice Patrice Evra (also on the bench) were read out before kick-off. Good. (In fairness, I have to add that the whistling of Ribéry was followed by chanting of his name from elsewhere in the stadium.)
Some people are also booing la fameuse marinière, as the new top – inspired by a Jean-Paul Gauthier design – is being described. The marine allusion is self-explanatory: the shirt looks like the sort of thing Breton fishermen might wear.
Laurent Blanc is a fan, saying the top properly represents France, reflecting as it does part of the national heritage.
Among the players, Alou Diarra and Philippe Mexès have spoken positively, Mexès saying he’s been asked about it a lot in Italy, where he plays for Roma. Arsenal’s Gaël Clichy was more philosophical, insisting: “We’re proud to wear the strip of the French team whether it’s blue, white and red or the marinière.”
Guy Roux, a French football legend who managed Auxere off and on for no less than 44 years, took a somewhat different view. “It’s like somehting out of Popeye,” he said. “It’s shameful. There are some symbols you cannot touch.”
Me? I’m a traditionalist and must admit it looks a little like two Breton T-shirts I have somewhere but probably look stupid in. That’s it: not bad as a T-shirt that makes you look stupid, unsuitable as a national team strip.
* Recognition should also be made of the Sunderland players, not already mentioned, who played for their countries last night: Sulley Muntari and John Mensah for Ghana, of course, plus Simon Mignolet (helping Belgium win 4-1 in a Euro qualifier.against Azerbaijan); Cristian Riveros in Paraguay’s 1-0 victory over the USA and Marcos Angeleri in Argentina’s 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.