Richard Mennear's tour diary: Wise move to keep Stockdale and Bracewell at Sunderland

The Sunderland players training in France
The Sunderland players training in France
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Having waxed lyrical about the glorious surroundings of Evian-les-Bains earlier in the week, cabin fever is now setting in.

Five days into a seven-day trip you start to notice the small quirks of a place.

One of those being that Evian appears to shut down shortly after 11pm on an evening.

A few bars remain open but in the main the streets are deserted and if you fancied a late meal (having been grafting hard all day) then you'll have a job.

The majority of restaurants close swiftly and I have lost count of the amount of times I have been told 'kitchen closed' this week.

There are no takeaways either that we can find (probably for the best).

Ssshhhh: Evian-les-Bains at night

Ssshhhh: Evian-les-Bains at night

We have though, managed to find a lovely restaurant on the front called Villa Borghese which opens late - I can recommend both the jambon pizza and lasagne (not together).

One of the waiters working there used to live in Newcastle and has only recently moved over here to Evian to work.

"Don't mention Newcastle!" roared a group of Sunderland fans also enjoying a late-night meal.

Thankfully for all concerned, it didn't put them off their tucker.


The press pack (well, myself and James Hunter from the Evening Chronicle) were allowed into the Stade Camille-Fournier to watch Sunderland train the other day.

A chance to see close up how David Moyes and the coaching staff train the players and to get an insight into how they want Sunderland to play this season.

We popped along on Thursday, the day after the 3-2 win over Dijon FCO, which meant those players who had featured for the full 90 minutes were enjoying a recovery session back at the hotel.

So no Younes Kaboul, Lamine Kone, Fabio Borini, Lee Cattermole or Wahbi Khazri on the training pitch.

Moyes - who will give his first press conference on Monday - wasn't there either to begin with, with Robbie Stockdale and Paul Bracewell leading the session, although the new manager did appear towards the end.

Busy working on transfer business back at the team's plush 5* Evian hotel, no doubt.

It was a chance, therefore to see Stockdale and Bracewell in action, and you could see how well-liked and respected they are by the players.

Even if the younger ones were summoned to help drag the goals across the pitch before the session got underway.

As reported in today's Echo, Moyes is expected to keep faith with the staff he has inherited, with the possibility of further additions at a later date.

A wise move.

Both Stockdale and Bracewell played a huge role in last season's survival and deserve the opportunity to continue that good work.