Ooh la la
Montpellier won the French league title for the first time in their 93-year history after beating Auxerre 2-1 away on Sunday in a chaotic match which saw the players forced off the pitch after crowd disturbances.
The southern French side were 80-1 to win the title before the campaign kicked off, and their priority at the start of the season was not so much about winning silverware, than ensuring Ligue 1 survival.
“It’s incredible. I can hardly find the words,” Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren said.
“Our only goal was to stay in the top flight and in the end we are champions. I’m going to enjoy it because it will probably be the only time it happens to me.”
He can hardly be accused of getting carried away by this season’s success.
Montpellier’s triumph was not exactly straightforward, with the club having to overcome a 1-0 deficit as well as several stoppages in play caused by irate Auxerre fans hurling tennis balls, toilet paper, tomatoes and then flares onto the pitch. It was probably not how they would have envisaged winning their first league title, but it will certainly made it all the more unforgettable.
“With all the delays you didn’t know what was happening, but honestly I think we deserved to win the title,” leading scorer Olivier Girard said. “It was a close fight until the end.”
Montpellier’s success was especially memorable when one considers they were competing against the nouveau riche wealth of Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG spent over €140 million on players last season compared to Montpellier’s relatively meagre outlay of €33 million.
Here’s footage of Montpellier’s historic success.
How to lose a fortune
It’s often been said about individuals putting their own money into football clubs, is that the only way to make a million out of the investment is to start with ten million. Roman Abramovich is taking that strategy to a whole new level by putting his £10billion fortune at the disposal of Chelsea.
The club’s chairman, Bruce Buck, has revealed that the Abramovich is targeting another three Champions League wins following Saturday’s penalty shootout triumph over Bayern Munich.
“There’s a lot of clubs with three or four of those stars on their club badge. We have only one. Roman gave a thank you speech, the message was that it was all down to the boys.
“We’ve seen him, year after year, invest and put his hand in his pocket and spend big money. He may go to another level now. I don’t know his thought process.”
If Chelsea’s spending has up until now been described as stratospheric, one wonders whether a term even exists for the level of spending he looks set to embark upon. Vulgar, perhaps?
Goal of the day
Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao is making a habit of scoring spectacular goals. Hot on the heels of his Europa League double and his stunner in a friendly match against Millonarios, comes this absolutely breathtaking strike in another friendly game, this time against Colombia’s America de Cali.
Eden Hazard appears to have had his head turned by events in Munich on Saturday night. Lille’s in-demand forward had previously stated he would be signing for one of the two Manchester clubs next season, but in the wake of Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, he has not ruled out a move to Stamford Bridge.
“I have not made my choice yet. I haven’t signed anything,” said Hazard.
When asked about a possible move to the Blues, he was quoted as saying by France Football: “Now, yes. They won the Champions League so they will be back in that competition next season.
“It’s important for me to play in that competition. Chelsea are a great team with great players. Of course it’s a possibility.”
Hazard signed off from Lille with a flourish, scoring a hat-trick in his side’s 4-1 win over Nancy. Wherever he ends up the 21-year-old departs with a warm and heartfelt send-off from coach Rudi Garcia.
“It was a lovely evening, we had a great send-off party for Eden. He still doesn’t know where he’s going. In the last few weeks he’s changed his mind, I believe,” he told RMC. “Things will be great for him. He’s going to be a great player. The best player in the league is leaving it. Eden is a unique player, a guy who’s capable of rising to challenges. He will remain one of the best players in LOSC’s history.”
Well that didn’t take long
French striker Nicolas Anelka has threatened to leave Shanghai Shenhua, a local newspaper has revealed, in a sign relations with his Chinese club may have deteriorated beyond repair.
Speaking in an interview with the Xinmin Evening News, Anelka criticised a lack of support from the club.
“If there is still no one to support me and (they) continue to play little tricks behind my back… then I will quickly decide whether or not to retire,” he said.
“This will be decided on what happens in the next few weeks.”
Anelka joined Shenhua in January on a two-year contract for a reported salary of €234,000 a week. Yes, that’s right, a week!
But Shenhua now lie near the bottom of the standings in China’s Super League.
Anelka also claims that the since the departure of Jean Tigana, he has been acting as the de facto head coach. At least he can’t be accused of not earning his money.
Platini stands firm
UEFA President Michel Platini has reiterated his opposition to goal-line technology – and says his counterpart at FIFA, Sepp Blatter, may yet do the same.
Final testing for both the Hawk-Eye and the GoalRef systems are underway with a final decision to be taken by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), in Kiev on July 2.
But Platini, a perennial opponent of the use of goal-line technology, believes that its introduction is not a fait au complit.
“I’m against the technology,” he said.
“If you say okay to goal-line technology, then it is offside technology, then penalty area technology, and we stop the football.
“I want human people – it’s easy.”
Platini remains sceptical about Blatter’s recent conversion in favour of technology.
“He changes his mind,” he continued.
“He said last year in the IFAB never technology, never. This year he changed, he’s says let’s go for technology. I hope next year he will say no technology.”
We have some bad news for you…
Brad Friedel receives the news that he won’t be playing Champions League football with Tottenham next season.
Today’s coach to turn down the opportunity to manage Liverpool is Ajax’s Frank De Boer. At this rate of rejection, even Kenny Dalglish might start wondering if suficient time has elapsed for him to make a dramatic return to steady the Anfield ship.
“I am honoured by the request, but I am only just getting started with Ajax,” De Boer told De Telegraaf. “In Amsterdam we are on a new path and, along with the club and Wim Jonk and Dennis Bergkamp, my colleagues in the technical heart, I want to bring good things. That’s why I will stay loyal to Ajax in the coming years.”
The vacancy at Anfield is in many ways a make or break position. If anyone can turn the club around they will have made it for life, but the reality in recent years is that the task has broken all who have tried.
De Boer, as a young, aspirational coach, looking to make his name in the game, seems a natural fit for a rebuilding job. Certainly, he seems a more appropriate candidate than some of the names Liverpool originally targeted and some their supporters believe they should be targeting. These have included, at various times, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello, a clone of Bob Paisley and the spirit of Bill Shankly.
Boys from Brazil
The new Brasileirão Serie A season has kicked off with more of a whimper than a bang.
Several teams fielded reserve line-ups and attendances were well down on 12 months ago.
Defending champions Corinthians and Fluminense both fielded reserve teams as they clashed in front of a modest 15,000 crowd at the Pacaembu in Sao Paulo, with Leandro Eusebio giving “Flu” a 1-0 win.
Santos also sent a reserve side to Bahia, drawing 0-0, while Vasco da Gama hosted Gremio with a “mixed” team of regulars and reserves.
All four of the below-strength Brazilian sides have all reached the quarter-finals of the South American Libertadores Cup and face second leg ties this week.
The many problems facing the championship kick-off were discussed in our preview of the season, which can be found here.
Aziz Yildirim has been re-elected president of Fenerbahce.
Yildirim was elected unopposed with 5269 out of 5271 votes from the club’s members, in what was tantamount to a vote of confidence in him from the club’s supporters.
The 59-year-old is currently in jail awaiting charges for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing case. After the results were announced he thanked the members for their continued support and insisted that his forthcoming trial was simply an attempt to destroy Fenerbahce.
“I would like to thank the board of directors and all of my friends for standing tall,” a Yildirim statement read.
“I do not know how much longer I will be incarcerated. I know that I am innocent.
“I am not offended, just angry at the prosecutors. This is not a match-fixing case, but a plan to end Fenerbahce.”