This Summer saw an escalation of our French recruitment drive with Yohan Cabaye spectacularly leading the way to Newcastle United. In seasons gone by it has been the fashion to look at foreign players (especially French ones!) as a bit dodgy in the commitment stakes, Vive Le Difference!
Everybody will have their own list of French players who have ended up letting us down, my list would start with Domi, Goma and ‘Le Sulk’ himself – Charles N’Zogbia, even throwing in David Ginola for his spitting the dummy out exit.
Of course we have had players like Olivier Bernard who linked up with the superb Laurent Robert, so it has not always heralded bad news when our friends have crossed the channel, indeed Daveed Ginola’s first four months at St.James’ Park were Magnifique, as we say in the Toon.
This time though we are treading new ground as there is a real backbone of the team/squad with a Gallic flavour; Cabaye, Ba, Obertan, Marveaux, Ben Arfa and Abeid.
Of course the positive contributions so far of players like Cabaye and Ba have led to comparisons of creating a mini Arsenal in the frozen north. That is one comparison I don’t mind living with, even though Arsenal have experienced the odd spot of bother this season. It’s preferable to being labelled the ‘Stoke of the north’ or ‘Bolton on Tyne’!
The obvious lure of shopping on the other side of the Channel is that with the French league currently not as lucrative as the Premier League, player wages are generally a few steps down the ladder. Having said that, cheap is not always best, as we have often found to our cost when trading in quality players for inferior replacements in the past.
The skill level of French players is generally excellent and compares very favourably with their English counterparts.
However, it isn’t just at St.James’ park that French players have proved a problem, you only have to look at the well documented problems with the French national team in recent years to see their sum total can be a lot less than the individuals making up the team.
In recent tournaments it is really a disgrace how they’ve underperformed when you see the players they have available.
When I look at the England team I don’t struggle to see why they haven’t performed.
Our current crop of Frenchmen have all said and done the right things, on and off the pitch. For my money they are a force for good and leading the charge in black & white.
Yohan Cabaye or Alan Smith? The future is bright, Vive Le France!