Friday, November 18, 2011

Vive la revolution!

It's fitting, really, that our renaissance should have been inspired and driven by a clutch of players of French provenance (if not nationality). Following on from TBW's identification of our Gallic contingent as a key factor in our expectation-confounding season thus far comes an article from the BBC's Jimmy Smallwood focusing exclusively on our imports from across the Channel.

Admittedly Smallwood's piece is limited in scope, drawing only upon comments from "French football expert" Ben Lyttleton, BBC Radio Newcastle's Mick Lowes and Sir Bobby Robson's mercurial Ginola replacement Laurent Robert (notably, another ex-player talking enthusiastically about his time on Tyneside). It's also true that he somewhat overstates the case - HBA and Sylvain Marveaux have been largely restricted to bit-part roles, Obertan Kenobi has shown only flashes of quality rather than consistency and not one of our impressively parsimonious first-choice back five hails from France. Lowes is guilty too - promising though Mehdi Abeid looks, he's yet to feature for the first team in the Premier League.

However, it surely can't be disputed that Dreamboat plus French speakers Mr T and Demba Ba (the latter born in Paris though representing Senegal internationally) have been central to our brilliant start, contributing intelligent midfield craft, energetic defensive protection and goals respectively to the cause. They've been instrumental in making us tough, resilient and hard to beat - far from Groundskeeper Willie's "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".

It's early days yet, though, so Lowes is a bit premature in hailing the Gallic recruits as an unqualified success. We can't really judge until at least halfway through the season - and certainly not until we've at least got the next three difficult assignments out of the way.

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