The week in Lyon is going splendidly, helped of course by the marvellous result at Brentford (a fellow Addick at the game gave his man of the match award to Green for the ball in for the goal). I’m quite happy that their manager feels they didn’t deserve to lose. As far as I’m concerned, Hamer had the one that hit the post well covered (no, I haven’t seen highlights I just know it to be the case) and we were unlucky to only beat them by one. It’s a useful time to pull out the old Shankly quote about the best team always wins and the rest is just gossip. However, it seems that my planning department is leaving a bit to be desired.
First, having arranged to fly back to London on Saturday morning in time to get across London for Huddersfield (in fact in time to get home, changed, and to the pub before Huddersfield) it has been pointed out to me that the game has been moved to Monday night. I’m sure I noticed this before, but in the rush hadn’t put the two together. I now have to explain to Suzanne that had I known when I booked the flights I would have chosen a relaxed trip to the Croix Rousse market for food and pastis followed by an afternoon of wine and the smells of French cooking over getting up at sparrow’s fart to be herded onto an easjet flight now in time for a forced trip to the supermarket (I’ll explain it in those terms but I’m increasingly inclined towards assuming a takeaway curry on Saturday night, come what may).
Second, I had hopes of taking in a Lyon Duchere game while here. I know they played away the previous weekend, but the France Football site seemed to be finding it difficult to list the fixtures. I checked out the Duchere site instead and was pleased to inform Suzanne that, although there was no Saturday evening match, the following day it was a cup game against Annecy. The site is in French (how inconsiderate) but even I can work it out. So, just before 15.00 on Sunday we set off for the five-minute stroll to the ground, wearing our Duchere scarves. Turns out the cup game was at Annecy. If I’d realised the previous day we just might have gone; it’s no hardship to spend some time at the town and the lake, although thoughts of the drive back might have ruled it out. As it was, La Duch duly won 4-1 and we ended up comprising probably about 10% of the crowd which watched Duchere’s reserves take on Valence reserves. A full report on a Duchere reserves game might be stretching it, so suffice to say it was a 2-0 win for the home side (a penalty in a first period that Duchere dominated and a breakaway second in stoppage time at the end after an increasingly tough contest).
Third, I’m in France, with a French woman. And somehow I’ve been lined up to cook a boeuf bourguignon. Hardly the natural order of things, I hope you’ll agree. I’m not sure how I was talked (conned) into this, but I’ll have my revenge. I’ll call it an English dish of beef stew with red wine. Suzanne managed to unearth a recipe, in English, which didn’t involve the essential and natural use of carrots in the dish. She is French, which means that she doesn’t not like carrots, she is ‘allergic’ to them. A harmless carrot for heaven’s sake. When I explain that I’m not allergic to cheese but merely have a natural disgust at the thought of consuming something that has so obviously gone off (at best; at worst it’s still alive), smells like it, and has the gluey consistency of clotted vomit it is deemed to count for less. I have a plan to buy a carrot for said beef stew and dye it another colour. I can say it’s a special English delicacy.
All of which leads us seamlessly on to another, rather more important, planning department. We’ve had the confirmation that Jackson will be out for some weeks. Bad news for sure; he’s really taken on the captain’s role this season, chipped in with goals (including impeccable penalties), while Wiggins and when called on Evina have compensated for the fact that he’s not an outright winger by getting forward beyond him to great effect. Just as the introduction of Kermorgant for Hayes and Green for Wagstaff (even to a less effect Hughes for Stephens) have changed the way we play, how we cope without Jackson will involve a change. If Sir Chris opts to bring in Ephraim and make no other changes, we will be playing with two genuine wingers. Exciting, but it also has to affect the way that Wiggins and Hollands approach the game as the scope to get forward may be compromised for fear of being stretched. Powell could of course opt for Evina and keep Ephraim in reserve, or balance the team by starting with Wagstaff on the other flank instead of Green.
At least the team and management have all week in training to work out what’s best; I’m sure they’ll get their necessary planning right. As for the captain’s armband, I’m assuming it’s between Hollands and Morrison. Just who takes on the penalties is another matter. I’m usually in favour of a team’s main goalscorer stepping forward. The guy should want to score come what may and should have enough swagger and confidence to do the necessary. I never thought that Killer was an especially good penalty taker, but he knew he’d score more often than not and, like all great forwards, regarded missing from time to time as an occupational hazard. But given Wright-Phillips’ last effort, the dire penalty away at Notts County last season, either he’s been getting in some practise or he gives the job to someone else. I hope he’s been planning too.