By 2010, Marseille were embarking on an 17th year without a title, the last being the legendary 1993 UEFA Champions League triumph against AC Milan. They had come close, including in the domestic cups over the years, having also finished 2nd the year before.
With the hugely popular Eric Gerets announcing his resignation, they turned to former club captain Didier Deschamps - the last OM skipper to lift a trophy in 1993 - to try and succeed where others had failed. The World Cup winning captain achieved just that, as OM recovered from an eight point deficit to Bordeaux and claim that elusive trophy.
There were a number of changes heading into the 2009-10 campaign, as no less than nine sides opted for a different manager. OM brought in Didier Deschamps, while PSG dispensed with Paul Le Guen in favour of Antoine Koumbouare. Guy Lacombe took charge of Monaco, while Montpellier, Boulogne, Le Mans, Rennes, Valenciennes and Nice all hired a new person on the bench.
Karim Benzema, Lyon’s highly talented young forward quit his hometown club to join Real Madrid’s Galactico project against a fee of 35 million euros. He was replaced by Porto’s experienced Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez. Lyon weren’t the only team to cherry pick Porto’s talents in what was a rare period of superiority for French football. Marseille also picked up the Portuguese side’s captain Lucho Gonzalez for 18 million euros.
Lyon, aiming to reclaim the title they lost in 2009 after seven consecutive league triumphs spent big in convincing Michel Bastos, Aly Cissokho and Bafetimbi Gomis to move to the Stade Gerland.
OM meanwhile brought in Stephane Mbia and Souleymane Diawara from Bordeaux and Rennes respectively, the pair forming what would become a title-winning defensive partnership.
It had been the champions Bordeaux who raced out of the blocks quickest, picking up seven wins from their opening 10 games to claim top spot ahead of Monaco and Marseille. Indeed, at this juncture, the top of the table was a tight affair, with just six points separating the entire top half.
Come Christmas, Bordeaux were well out in front, eight points clear of the side that they beat to the title the season before, as Deschamps’ OM side struggled with slip-up defeats to Auxerre and Lens away from home, while also surrendering to Lyon while 4-2 up, that game ending in a 5-5 classic.
But the tables would soon turn as Laurent Blanc’s men - who over the course of the season set a new consecutive wins record in Ligue 1 - suffered a catastrophic collapse. From the end of January, the Gironde side picked up just four wins from their next 16 games to surrender their crown.
Marseille, on the other hand, steamed ahead with 11 wins from their next 14, including a memorable 0-3 win away to rivals PSG and a late comeback at home to Lyon. The title was secured at a fervent Stade Velodrome with two games to spare, as Rennes were beaten 3-1 on a night of celebration in the port city.
The closeness of the league table endured until the final day, with just three points separating the next four sides. Auxerre were the surprise Champions League qualifiers, while Bordeaux stumbled over the line in sixth place. PSG, in a season of mediocrity, were 17th.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The Argentine striker claimed the Player of the Season award ahead of Marseille’s Mamadou Niang thanks largely in part to his numerous monthly award wins.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The Auxerre coach was voted ahead of Didier Deschamps after masterminding Auxerre’s surprise podium finish and a place in the Champions League.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
It was the season that many had begun to take notice of the 19-year-old winger whose individual brilliance showed, but could not take his side into the top three.
A relatively low 18 goals of the season was enough to claim the top scorer award, as Niang finished ahead of Lorient’s Kevin Gameiro and PSG’s Mevlut Erding.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
LLORIS; FANNI, DIAWARA, CIANI, TREMOULINAS; CHEYROU, GOURCUFF, HAZARD; NIANG, LOPEZ, CHAMAKH
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
FC Porto to Lyon
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
OM picked up their largest away win at the Parc des Princes en route to the league title. It was a performance worthy of champions, and confirmed them as favourites for the championship after a highly acclaimed performance.