first team / OL - ASSE D-2

Gérard Houllier: "Put on a show"

Published on the 28 April 2006 à 13:45 by BV

How has training been going?<br/> We had some very good training sessions. There was lots of engagement, muscle, tonic and also a little stressed. Yesterday we had a practice match behind closed doors to prepare the final touches. Tomorrow will have our pre-match session.

We’re two days from the derby... is the pressure mounting a little?
It’s a derby match with all the motivation that goes with it as well as what’s at stake for our supporters. All derbies are special. For us, the priority is to put on a show and win to pass the 80-point mark which will be a new record. We’ve shown the mastery and control all season to live up to our expectations. Now we have to stay strong mentally to go all the way to the end.

Did you have any in particular to say to the players on the eve of the derby?
It’s more up to them to have things to say. The match against PSG was special for Joël Bats and me. The match against Saint-Etienne is a special one for the majority of the players. At any rate, it won’t be an “anti-Verts” talk, but rather a “pro-Lyon” talk. On that subject, Jérémy Janot should not come to the Stade Gerland wearing an AC Milan shirt. There are some provocations that I will not accept. That would be a spiteful provocation of the players and the supporters. Players have a responsibility to be an example and not start things.

The fact that there is little at stake for either side, does that risk to change the nature of the match?
I hope that gives the two sides the opportunity to play better. For my part, I would have preferred that this match was to be decisive. We’re a little like a cyclist in the Tour de France that arrives on the Champs-Élysées, and has to be obliged to continue cycling to the finish. We managed to be crowned champions with five games to spare. That’s incredible! We answered all the questions put before us with a superb match in Paris before tripping up at Monaco. Now we have three games left with different things at stake. Sunday, there’s the derby, then a trip to Lille with a little something to prove.

We imagine the players can’t wait to celebrate the title with their fans...
Absolutely. In terms of the emotion, it will be intense. I’m sure our supporters will be up to the task of congratulating their players. I hope we see a real coming together of fans and players, because I love the Lyon fans. The first contact I had with them, right from when I signed with Lyon, I could feel they were all ‘good people’. It’s important to be able to come to the ground, like you can here, with the family, the kids. So I hope that the Stade Gerland does the right thing and congratulates their players for a remarkable season. To reach the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue, be crowned champions and finish in the top eight teams in all of Europe is not something you see every year. We managed to mix it with AC Milan and were within three minutes of a Champions League semi-final after hitting the post… Chelsea and Liverpool, who are both good teams didn’t reach that stage of the competition.