Posts Tagged ‘Hatem Ben Arfa’

French football quotes of the year 2014


Marcelo Bielsa“There’s already one of ours who’s up there [Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa], and I wish him the best. Rémy, I think he deserves something else than Newcastle. I wouldn’t go there. You must get bored shitless in Newcastle.”
– Montpellier president Louis Nicollin on reports linking Rémy Cabella with a move to Newcastle United

“At Milan, they treated me like a king. People were courteous, welcoming and always willing to help. At a restaurant, in France, you sit down and not only do they make you wait for a very long time, but they treat you badly. It was disconcerting, but now I’ve adapted: if someone treats me badly, I treat them badly in return. I’m a real Parisian now.”
– Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva on the joys of life in the capital

Loïc Féry: “Thank you.”
Christian Gourcuff: “I’m not saying thank you to you [vous].”
Loïc Féry: “So we’re vous-ing each other now?”
Christian Gourcuff: “Yes, yes, we’re vous-ing each other now.”
– Terse exchange between Lorient president Loïc Féry and outgoing coach Christian Gourcuff, caught on camera by Canal+ after Lorient’s 4-1 loss at home to Lille on the season’s final day

“For him to be bad is one thing, but for him to be stupid is something else.”
– Nice captain Didier Digard hits out at referee Antony Gautier after being sent off for handball during a 1-1 draw at Saint-Étienne. He later apologised

“It’s not glasses he needs – it’s a Labrador!”
– Lyon midfielder Clément Grenier to referee Ruddy Buquet after a stormy 2-1 loss at home to Saint-Étienne

“I’m surprised by the unacceptable and immature attitude of Romao, who made vulgar remarks towards [Canal + pundit] Pierre Ménès and me because he couldn’t think of anything else to say after fouling me but insult me. I quote: ‘Go and suck that fat Pierre Ménès.’ Unacceptable.”
Bafétimbi Gomis, then with Lyon, on a dispute with Marseille midfielder Alaixys Romao

“So then Mr Gomis, about the ‘son of a whore’ and ‘tramp’ that you yelled at me on the pitch yesterday – I should tweet it, right?”
– Lorient midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur suggests Gomis is no angel himself

“The atmosphere on the pitch? The French were too arrogant, as usual.”
– Sweden Under-21 player Kiese Thelin after his side eliminated their French counterparts in an Under-21 European Championship play-off

“A coach is above all someone who works in the technical domain. And there are coaches who don’t coach, like Laurent Blanc at Paris, where it’s [Blanc’s assistant] Jean-Louis Gasset who takes care of it. I don’t like this model. A coach who doesn’t control the pitch, as far as I’m concerned, is not a coach.”
Christian Gourcuff

“I passed my coaching exams. Mr Gourcuff passed them 30 years ago. He should take them again and see that the job has evolved.”
Blanc responds

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French football quotes of the year 2012

Samir NasriFrom AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.

Cross-Channel relations

“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
– Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic

“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!'”
Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate

“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale

“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne [‘Tell No One’], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet

“I could become a doctor!”
Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room

Euro 2012

“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad

“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support

“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden

“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
– Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain

“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
– French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media

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Feature: Reports of friction see France’s old fears return

“DONETSK, Ukraine — In 2010, it started with a headline in L’Équipe. Two years on, France’s leading sports newspaper has lifted the lid on fresh tension in the French squad at Euro 2012.”

I wrote a piece for AFP on the old demons threatening to re-emerge in  the France camp. You can read it here.

Right-wing repositioning opens Ben Arfa’s route to Euro 2012

In recent weeks, Hatem Ben Arfa has started to look like the player he had always threatened to become.

With two goals and three assists in his last four appearances, the 25-year-old is the form attacking midfielder in the Premier League. There have been flurries of eye-catching form in the past, but he has rarely played such daring, decisive football on such a consistent basis and against such strong opposition.

The catalyst for his spring renaissance was the January arrival of Papiss Demba Cissé, who was signed to link up with his Senegal team-mate, Demba Ba. With two prolific strikers at his disposal, Newcastle United coach Alan Pardew was forced to abandon his long-held ambition to deploy Ben Arfa as a number 10 behind a lone striker. He has re-emerged on the right.

Ben Arfa started on the right flank for the first time in the league this season in Newcastle’s 5-2 defeat at Fulham on January 21 (a game in which he scored), but it was not until March 18, and a 1-0 win at home to Norwich City, that he was included in the same starting line-up as Cissé and Ba. The trio subsequently started in the slick 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion and last weekend’s 2-0 defeat of Liverpool at St James’ Park. After opening the scoring in the 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, Ben Arfa scored once and created the two other goals at West Brom and was then instrumental in both goals against Liverpool.

Over the course of those recent games, Newcastle’s shape has slowly morphed from a lopsided 4-4-2 into something resembling an orthodox 4-3-3, as Ben Arfa has become the focal point for his side’s attacking play on the right flank and Pardew has responded by adding more ballast to the centre of midfield.

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French football quotes of the year 2010

The World Cup

“As I’m an optimistic person, I’m going to say that I have a 100 per cent chance [of going to the World Cup].”
– Pride comes before a fall for Patrick Vieira

“I read the letter. I don’t think the players wrote it. It was typed out on a computer and there were no spelling mistakes.”
– French Football Federation general secretary Henri Monteil lets the world know exactly what he thinks about the intellect of the average footballer after reading the statement released by the France squad explaining their training boycott

“Go on Yoann, you’ll be alone on the pitch. Everyone will see you and you’ll be a media star.”
– What Franck Ribéry allegedly (emphasis on the allegedly) told Yoann Gourcuff on the France team bus after he threatened to break the training strike

“He sullied my name without trying to find out what happened. Lilian thinks he’s the new coach, the president of the federation and the president of the [French] Republic… Walking around with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X.”
Patrice Evra on Lilian Thuram, after the France 1998 stalwart called for him to be banned from the national side for life

“They’re real clowns, these people. I’m dying with laughter!”
– Nicolas Anelka pours scorn on the unprecedented 18-match international ban handed to him by the FFF


“You should see him in the changing room: he sings French rap. He’s even learnt the song the Bordeaux fans chant to wind me up: ‘Oh, Diawara, go fuck yourself/You have got no loyalty!’”
Souleymane Diawara on Lucho González’s successful integration in the Marseille changing room

“The baguette. It’s amazing how good it is, the baguette.”
– Lyon’s Argentine attacking midfielder César Delgado, when asked what he would remember most fondly from his time in France

“Steve makes me laugh with his fake Marseille accent. A black guy from Normandy with a Marseille accent – it sounds wrong to be honest!”
Guillaume Hoarau upbraids former Le Havre team-mate Steve Mandanda for his efforts to blend in at Marseille

“We don’t talk. We played one year at Arsenal without talking. There were other people who didn’t talk to him either. The collective cause was more important, though, and we got on with things.”
Samir Nasri lifts the lid on his (non-)relationship with former Arsenal team-mate William Gallas

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An Idiot’s Guide to Hatem Ben Arfa

Alan Shearer’s extraordinary assertion on Match of the Day that “we don’t really know much about Hatem Ben Arfa” has rightly earned him plenty of criticism (although Jonathan Liew’s widely circulated piece for The Daily Telegraph undermined itself with some childish jibes about his appearance), but just how easy is it to dig up information about Newcastle’s latest Gallic dribble merchant? Football Further decided to investigate.

1. Wikipedia

Journalists are right to be wary of Wikipedia (as anyone who’s ever heard of the Wanky Balls music festival can testify), but a quick glance at Ben Arfa’s Wikipedia entry would at least have given Shearer cursory familiarity with his background. Potential factual inaccuracies notwithstanding, Wikipedia tells us: that Ben Arfa was born in the Paris suburbs in March 1987, to a Tunisian father and French mother; that he spent three years at the Clairefontaine academy (where he was filmed having a heated row with Abou Diaby); that he has played for Lyon and Marseille, contributing to five Ligue 1 title successes; and that he has represented France at every youth level up to the senior side. A picture is emerging.

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La semaine en France: Week 4

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
Week 4 saw Yoann Gourcuff’s Lyon debut turn into a decidedly damp squib as his side were beaten 2-0 at Lorient, while Bordeaux snatched a last-gasp 1-1 draw at home to Marseille and Toulouse extended their 100 percent record to open up a four-point lead at the summit.

All eyes were on Gourcuff at Stade du Moustoir, and although he began the game on the bench he was pressed into action in the 30th minute against the side coached by his father when César Delgado had to go off with a thigh injury. Lyon already trailed to an eighth-minute penalty from the impressive Kévin Gameiro and although Gourcuff’s introduction gave the visitors’ attacking play much more cohesion, their chances of a comeback were dealt a fatal blow in the 66th minute when Lorient debutant Lynel Kitambala slammed home.

Lyon have four points from their first four games – the same as Bordeaux and Marseille, who fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Chaban-Delmas on Sunday night. Lucho González expertly swept OM into a 12th-minute lead after a superb charge down the right flank from Brandão, but Edouard Cissé was harshly dismissed in the 33rd minute and Marseille’s resistance finally crumbled two minutes from time when Anthony Modeste (pictured) got across César Azpilicueta to head in Jaroslav Plašil’s inswinging cross.

A marvellously assured goal (see below) from rumoured Barcelona target Étienne Capoue set Toulouse on their way to a 2-0 victory at Nancy. TFC are four points clear of Rennes and Montpellier, while Sochaux climbed to fourth after exploiting the huge cracks in the Paris Saint-Germain defence to record a 3-1 win over Antoine Kombouaré’s men at Stade Bonal. Caen’s unbeaten run came to an end when they went down 2-0 at home to fellow promoted side Brest.

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La semaine en France: Week 1

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
A shock home defeat for champions Marseille and a limp goalless draw for fellow title favourites Lyon were the most notable results of the opening weekend in Ligue 1, as France turned its attention back to domestic football after the humiliation of the World Cup.

Promoted Caen produced the sensation of the first match day with an enterprising and fearless 2-1 win over a Marseille side heavy of limb and missing a number of important players. The introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa in the second half sparked OM into life after captain Nicolas Seube’s speculative effort had put the visitors ahead, but despite drawing level through Mamadou Samassa they were undone by a late header from the excellent Youssef El-Arabi (pictured).

Lyon were grateful for the astonishing reflexes of Hugo Lloris, who produced more heart-stopping saves than some goalkeepers manage in an entire career to keep Monaco at bay at Stade Gerland. Stéphane Ruffier, who made his France debut against Norway on Wednesday, was almost equally impressive at the other end.

Mevlut Erding scored the season’s first goal to put Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 up at home to Saint-Etienne. An acrobatic volley from Stéphane Sessegnon (that required a helping hand from Jérémie Janot to cross the line) and an emphatic finish by new recruit Nenê secured a 3-1 win that put PSG top of the fledgling standings, but clashes with police prior to the match at the Parc des Princes saw 249 fans arrested (all but two from the ranks of the home side’s supporters).

The other promoted teams were unable to follow Caen’s lead. Arles-Avignon went down 2-1 at Sochaux and Brest fell 2-0 at Toulouse. Jean Tigana’s first competitive game as Bordeaux coach ended with a 1-0 defeat at Montpellier – the only side from last year’s top 10 to win their opening game.

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