As is his wont, 48 hours before a match, Alain Perrin held a press conference…
“The fans came to show us they’re behind us. I appreciated their presence and their behaviour. They’re sticking with us, they didn’t come to put pressure on us. The derby is important for them and we know that. I spoke with some of them at training and thanked them.”
What does the derby represent?
“It’s a chance, given our current difficulties, to galvanise the squad. The older players know what it means. I’m glad there were no problems with the international matches. I regret not having the time to debrief after the Lorient match. At the very least, the internationals have had a chance to clear their heads. The derby doesn’t need a specific preparation; what changes is the psychological approach. We have to master our nerves. My team talk will be adapted to the specific match as it is every week. For the first time in ages, the conditions seem to favour Les Verts. We need to step up to the plate.”
Is this a good time for the derby?
“It’s a huge match, the kind you want to attack with all available means. Which isn’t the case in this instance, as you know. We’ll be very happy to have Kim and maybe Sidney back for this one. We’ll have to play as a team with a lot of conviction. It’ll tighten the bonds in the team. For me, it’s no more important than any other match. But it is for the lads. We know we’re in a tough period… but so what? It has happened before. In fact it’s almost normal to have this situation in a season. What’s important are the individual and team reactions. Maybe until now things have been going against us, and for sure the side hasn’t reacted strongly enough – there is room for improvement. We also need more enthusiasm, more engagement. Moreover, they have to unleash themselves. The squad isn’t downbeat after losing to Lorient. They’re encouraged by the arrival of 2 new recruits. They know the club is active.”
[IMG42457#R]A word on Les Verts?
“I’ll be very happy to see my friend Laurent Roussey on the bench. They have players like Ilan, Feindouno and Gomis… They can move the ball up field at a blistering pace. They could catch us on the counter, so we have to be wary. The Stéphanois are well organised and hard to move around. They can move into attack from very deep. The danger of attackers like Ilan, Gomis and Feindouno comes into its own when we lose the ball. We can’t afford to give them any space.”
What have you been working on in particular?
“I’ve been emphasising our attacking qualities. We control the ball most of the time; that needs to translate into good finishing and effective play. I’ve had another look at the Lorient game and there were some interesting things before the 2nd Lorient goal. We need to avoid handicapping ourselves by going behind and having to play catch-up football. Keita? I haven’t had a chance to talk with him yet. Grosso? He has no problems defensively. He made an error against Lorient. He knows it. We won’t hold it against him. Govou? We’ll see after training on Saturday whether he’ll play. He still has a slight twinge in his thigh. His lateness for training on Friday? To be honest, he slept in. He’ll be fined. That’s part of the game. It’s not serious. I’ll never punish the team for the problems of one individual. The striker? We must have one. I have complete confidence in the club on this subject.”