In the end I am really quite neutral on the question of the Premier League title.
Yes, Man City have gone out with Abu Dhabi money and bought the trophy. But Man Utd have been doing the same, minus the UAE connection, for years.
I have mentioned before that on the eve of the takeover of City, I fell into conversation with some of their fans in the pathetically ill-stocked Grand Central train buffet heading back to London after they had battered us 3-0 at our own place. They had money already, though there were serious question marks about the then Thai owner, and my travelling companions made appropriate noises about our two clubs being quite similar, having to endure years of underachievement and brattish, uppity neighbours.
Sheikh Mansour’s investment has, of course, revolutionised City. If it hadn’t been this season, it is a fair bet that the title would have been theirs next time.
Let us be honest: Sunderland fans have gratefully accepted another wealthy man’s patronage. Even if he is a pauper by the City owner’s standards, we are badly placed to cry foul.
And so to France and a tale of two great cities.
Paris Saint-Germain were generally expected to romp away with Ligue 1 with all that Qatari gold. They haven’t. Montpellier, who make up for not having the most money by at least having the fattest chairman, Louis Nicollin, need only a point from their final game, at bottom-placed, relegated Auxerre on Sunday night, to be champions for the first time in a history that goes back to 1919. Whatever PSG do at Lorient.
They have been consistently better all season – how I wish we could have Olivier Giroud, whose great run and sublime pass created the last-second goal for Ait-Fana to beat Lille, in our team – and deserve to complete the formality. Plus, PSG have always been rather a nasty club and a bit of humility will do them no harm at all.
Sadly Patrice Carteron’s Dijon are stuck at second bottom and need to do better at Rennes than two of the four clubs above them to stay up. I expect tears in the mustard.
So let’s concentrate on M Nicollin’s bravehearts from one of France’s most pleasant cities. Ha’way Montpellier … and your chairman, Monsieur le Président Nicollin, immortalised in this chant honouring his girth sung by his own supporters at PSG’s Parc des Princes:
Vous avez le Qatar, nous avons le gros lard.