Alain Perrin discussed OL’s Coupe de la Ligue victory in Caen. While he conceded that “<i>at the moment things are going really well (in attack)</i>”, the OL manager warned “<i>Be careful: Valenciennes could well trip us up</i>”.
Yes, they had to really step up mentally against a Caen side that deserves congratulations for its quality of play and playing the role of challenger to the very limit, with a lot of enthusiasm, risk-taking and incisiveness, which really troubled our defenders. They attacked with 5 men, and it wasn’t easy to contain them. Had we not been at 100%, we would have had a lot more headaches in the match.
Did you have any doubts during the match?
No, but you know a game can turn at any moment, especially when your opponent is taking risks in attack through a passage of play or a set piece. So we have to stay focused. We have many qualities, both in attack and defence, but a match is a fragile thing. The players did well to stay focused and to maintain the desire to progress to the next round with a lot of conviction.
Your team once again scored 3 goals…
Things opened up towards the end, there was more space and the Caennais took more risks. We brought on some fresh players and made the difference. At one stage this season we created a lot of chances but didn’t finish so well. Now, we’re finishing well against teams that allow us space, which explains things.
Being able to bring on players like Juninho and Benzema must help…
Obviously. You can judge a team by the quality of its bench. Having them on the bench let us give some game time to players who aren’t quite at 100% yet. It was good for the squad as a whole.
What did you think of Kader Keita’s performance?
I’m happy for him and that he scored the opener. Attackers often need a small push like that to rediscover their confidence. After that there was a bit of wastefulness in his game but the important thing is for him to get some game time under his belt in order to find form.
You could see he was lacking a bit of rhythm. I spoke to him about it. He’s still a bit further behind than he thinks, as defenders in matches are committed than in training. He needs to get used to it again and that will come through game time.
On Saturday you’ll return to league action looking to keep the ball rolling…
We’ll have to be careful, not give up and stay on this good trajectory. Yesterday, the players set their hearts on qualifying for the next round of the Coupe de la Ligue and not taking the match lightly. Now we’re up against a good VA side who just beat Rennes on the road. They’re a tough side to move around. VA almost got a win in Bordeaux as well. We have to be careful: Valenciennes could well trip us up.
How do you prepare for such a match, just 3 days after the Coupe de la Ligue?
It’s not just a different competition; you have to manage the fatigue and recuperate well. So we focus on rest and recuperation.
This morning we saw vu Patrick Müller, Fabio Grosso and Jérémy Toulalan in training. What stage are they at?
Pat Müller will play in the CFA because he lacks game time, but he’s very close and we hope to have him playing CFA very soon. Fabio Grosso can’t wear studs yet but we hope he’ll be ready for Saturday but we’re not sure. It’s 50-50. Jérémy Toulalan is a bit limited. He can run but can’t work with the ball. I don’t think he’ll be ready for Saturday. Hatem Ben Arfa has a slight sprain and he should be out for 3-6 days.
It’ll be tough for him to be ready for Saturday. He should have played yesterday, but was unlucky. Is he getting impatient? Of course. His turn will come but he has to be ready physically.
In the absence of Fabio Grosso, Nadir Belhadj had a great performance…
He’s had 2 good performances in that position. Just like François Clerc, against Paris. It proves the squad is competitive. That’s the objective in these matches: enlarge the possibilities so you have options.
Mathieu Bodmer is a revelation in the centre of defence…
At the outset I wanted to play him as a midfielder but he hasn’t quite got his head around it yet. On the other hand, he is very strong in central defence. He’s become a player we count on in the competition to play in this position. Right now he’s happy to be a starter, and it’s too early to talk about reconverting him to this position.