Remember Johnny Utaka at Portsmouth? For a brief while he was the Premiership’s most exciting player. His brace in the last match against AJ Auxerre secured Montpellier their first ever Championnat. The club coached by Rene Girard overcame big moneyed PSG, the favourites to win the Ligue. Girard on the historic occasion:
” I think it’s refreshing. It’s good. It revives our football. It shows you don’t need to fear anybody”, and that money doesn’t buy happiness. We’re a club made of friends, basically an academy, and finally it worked [for us] with a balanced team.”
Earlier, I had written about how difficult it would be to implement financial fair play rules when the overwhelming trope is big spending clubs win titles. City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, come to mind. But there have been bright spots too this season. Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle Utd, and now Montpellier have proven that blank checks do not guarantee success. All three clubs enriched themselves with talent through careful scouting and prudent spending.
Montpellier, a city with a population of little more than 250,000, famous for a world class medical university, home of Rabelais who wrote Gargantua and Pantagruel, now has one more feather in its cap.