On Thursday we welcome FC Girondins de Bordeaux to our Europa League campaign at St James’ Park. They are Group D’s highest UEFA ranked team and the team selected in our group from ‘Pot 1’, they have a nickname of Les Homes au Scapulaire (The Men in V Necks) and do a nice tumbler of red wine, commonly known as Claret. Not as nice as drinking Brown Ale in your Geordie Jeans but Vive La difference eh?
Who Manages Them?
Francis Gillot may not be as famous as some of his Bordeaux managerial predecessors like Jean Tigana, Lauren Blanc and Aime Jacquet but he did manage Sochaux into this competition before taking over at the Stade Chaban Delmas in June 2011.
In fact he is so ‘not famous’ that his Wiki page says he played for Mulhouse 5 times and an unknown number of appearances for Villiers-Sire-Nicole and Montauban, stats which encouraged me to add to my own personal Wiki my 7 appearances for the Last Days of The Raj in the Eldon Square Wednesday lunchtime 5-a-side league. Well, they all count!
Bordeaux’s results were bad early on in his first season in charge and an early dip in the relegation trough was a worry until he started to get his message across: “We coaches are a lot like teachers who try explaining something to a student but the student doesn’t understand for the first time. After a while, by the dint of repeating the same things over and over again, they finally understand.” Similar to Sir Bobby Robson really who could be regularly heard shouting to Shola: “Don’t pass to them. Don’t pass to them.”
Who Have We Seen before?
Ex-Makem, Manyoo and Hammers waster David Bellion might get a run out tonight but he hasn’t played so far this season and was an unused sub in Bordeaux’s last outing. Not surprising really as he was completely hopeless in the Premier League, scoring 5 goals in his 52 run outs, his profile as a ‘Striker’ presumably pointing to the French national tendency for industrial unrest rather than any on-field football ability. Bellion was part of the Makems’ glory team of 2002/03, relegated with the then lowest Premier League points total ever, a record they were to beat two years later. He deserves our respect for that!
A Special Mention For:
Our very own Gabriel ‘Megamind’ Obertan who started his career at Bordeaux after graduating from France’s celebrated Clairefontaine academy. With a bit of luck Obertan won’t have the same ‘point to prove’ to his former French employers as he had at Manyoo last week. Whatever that point was, he proved it alright. In 54 league games for Les Girondins, Megamind scored 3 goals. And they say history never repeats itself.
How Will They Do:
Like us, Les Marine et Blanc won this competition when it had another name, their win coming in the UEFA cup in 1996. Like us they won’t win it again this season. They beat Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) 3-2 in the last round, a 0-0 draw away in Belgrade followed by a 3-2 home win and continued that good home form last time out against Club Brugge, winning 4-0.
Bordeaux are doing well in the French league, currently 5th after a great 2-0 win at Lyon at the weekend and they should qualify comfortably for the last 32 along with NUFC. They may come here full of confidence after such a good start to the season but they’ve lost their last 4 games in England and never won on English soil.
Are We going To Win?
Although Bordeaux come here knowing they should qualify for the Europa league knockout stages, they also know that they generally get tanked on English soil. Much will depend on the team they put out and the team we put out to face them. Much will also depend on the crowd.
Get behind the young lads we put out today, the French generally don’t play in front of big, noisy crowds and your voice could make the difference. It’ll encourage our youngsters and might just scare the pantalones off our opponents.
Howay the European Lads.