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Bordeaux bows to Blanc's brilliance

HAVING ended Bordeaux's 10-year wait for the French title in just his second season in charge, Laurent Blanc is showing early signs his managerial career could eventually mirror his playing days at the highest level.

Blanc had no managerial experience when he took over a lackluster Bordeaux team two years ago. He immediately demanded improvements, and almost fell out with the president Jean-Louis Triaud over his insistent demand for transfer funds.

Now, Les Girondins are riding high and the 43-year-old Blanc is one of Europe's up-and-coming young managers.

"No he's not that good. Because if I say he's that good, I've got no chance of keeping him," Triaud said jokingly after Bordeaux's 1-0 win at Caen on Saturday night sealed the club's first title since 1999.

But Triaud was quick to fire a warning shot to any of his fellow presidents, should they fancy pinching Blanc off him over the summer.

Unbeaten at home, Blanc's team finished first with 80 points, three more than Marseille, 4-0 winner over Stade Rennes on Saturday. It also won the League Cup, while a second straight qualification for the Champions League will do wonders for Triaud's coffers.

Blanc's coolness under pressure has epitomized Bordeaux this season, and the team won the last 11 games in the league - while seven-time defending champion Lyon and title rival Marseille both cracked under the strain.

"You can't do better than 33 points. It's championship form," Blanc said, referring to the 11 wins. "We turned some games around in the last minutes."

A World Cup winner with France in 1998 and European Champion two years later, Blanc played his club football in hotbeds like Naples and Barcelona before ending his illustrious career under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Bordeaux beat Caen 1-0 with Yoan Gouffran scoring the only goal to condemn his former club to relegation. Gouffran is arguably Bordeaux's most improved player.

Bordeaux's key players were midfielder Yoann Gourcuff and striker Marouane Chamakh, who provided much of the scoring.

Gourcuff, who signed a four-year deal to join on a permanent basis from AC Milan, scored 12 league goals, while Chamakh grabbed 13.

Although Gourcuff and Blanc will stay with Bordeaux, Chamakh and Diarra are among those likely to leave. "There will be several people leaving and several arriving," Blanc said. "But I hope it doesn't all get shaken up too much."


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