Inspired by Yoann Gourcuff and coached by Laurent Blanc, Girondins de Bordeaux were worthy champions of France in 2008-2009. David Crossan looks at how the club's sixth and most recent title was claimed…
In place since July 2007 and ably assisted by Jean-Louis Gasset, Blanc's success at Les Girondins led to him being offered the France job in the summer of 2010. More of that later. At Bordeaux Blanc had Gourcuff playing the best football of his career and the playmaker was duly voted Ligue 1 player of the year for 2008-2009.
Signing the 22-year-old on loan from AC Milan with an option to buy at the end of the season proved a masterstroke and Gourcuff helped Bordeaux to their first trophy of the season as Olympique Lyonnais were beaten on penalties in the Trophée des Champions after a 0-0 draw.
Having finished second in the league in Blanc's first season in charge, Bordeaux began the following season amongst the fancied clubs yet endured a slow start to 2008-2009, collecting only 11 points from their first seven outings and suffering setbacks to Chelsea and Roma in the Champions League.
The stylish Gourcuff's form picked up in October and Bordeaux went on a run of seven matches unbeaten as Fernando Cavenaghi backed up his goalscoring exploits of the previous season and Marouane Chamakh started to show his worth. November was tougher but the pre-Christmas matches brought cheer to Girondins fans and a 4-3 win at Monaco in Round 19 left Bordeaux second in the table to Olympique Lyonnais heading into the winter break.
Gourcuff netted in a thumping 4-0 home win over Paris Saint-Germain to start 2009 but there were wobbles on the way including a 1-0 Round 23 loss to Olympique de Marseille, who were also involved in the title fight. A 3-0 defeat at Toulouse in Round 27 left Bordeaux a lowly fifth and six points back from leaders OL.
11 wins in a row to power to the title!
From March 14's 2-1 home success against Nice, Bordeaux were simply irresistible, putting together one of the great title runs, winning 11 in row through to the end of the season. With Gourcuff pulling the strings and weighing in with six goals in that run, backed up by five in that sequence by Chamakh, Blanc's team surged to the title. They still had work to do on the final day, however, and Yoan Gouffran scored the winner at Caen, the club he'd left the previous summer, in order to finish top of the table on 80 points, three ahead of OM. They also won the Coupe de la Ligue in a glorious 2008-2009 season.
"There was a lot of pleasure and satisfaction for the players, the coaching staff, the fans and the city. It was really a great time with a lot of joy. The team had a really good understanding and the coaches had put together a good puzzle as the players complemented each other. My job was to get the others playing and make them better. We were a team without stars and we played with a team spirit. Because of my conception of football I can't pick out one player in particular."
Yoann Gourcuff, speaking to ARL radio in August 2019. Gourcuff scored 12 goals and provided eight assists in the title-winning season.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Gourcuff's loan move from Milan was made permanent for a fee of 15 million euros. The following season Bordeaux were top at Christmas with 40 points and were still table toppers in early April, only to collapse in the final weeks of the season, managing only eight points from their last 10 matches to finish sixth. Bordeaux also fell in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in an all-French clash with Olympique Lyonnais and with Blanc on his way at the end of the season they have never recovered.