Gérard Houllier’s last pre-match press conference for the year. A manager at the height of his powers who wants nothing but the 3 points against Monaco…
“It’s important to finish the year on a good note, especially as there will be a 3-week break in afterwards. And also it’s a good challenge to win the last match for the year as it’s a feat OL hasn’t pulled off during its last five championship years. It is essential that we take the 3 points. It’s a prestigious match. I c=recall that we lost in Monaco last season, without playing. We also want to show that we are just as good in December as in August, September… it’s called professionalism. I’ve been saying for some days that we are getting back to full swing, and we proved it against Lens and Nancy.”
“Monaco is a good team hampered by its start to the season; the team was ruined during the summer. You need a season to reconstruct. So Monaco should be preparing their plans for 2007-2008. The Banide effect? Something was obviously up with Bölöni; there were also certain statements I didn’t appreciate. In the last 5 or 6 matches, this team is in the top 5 or 6 in the championship.”
After the result and the way you won against Nancy, isn’t it hard to select the team? ?
“No. Against Nancy, we played a good game but were disappointed Nancy wasn’t more under threat. But, we need everyone to achieve our goals. Malouda? He is the spirit of the team, of sacrifice. We only win when everyone is prepared to work for each other. Solidarity, that’s the sacrifice. In Lens, we were ahead 4-0 but still Juninho was back in defence, winning the ball in our area. That’s also a strong symbol of our team spirit. Football isn’t an individual sport.”
Has your team improved since your arrival?
“There has been a lot of progress in many areas, notably that of our mental strength, because at this level, the devil is in the detail. In a match, concentration and cohesion are very important factors. Under no circumstances can you go to pieces. We have this strength to our game. We have also improved technically…What I really like though is our attitude in success. There is no euphoria that makes us forget our work or swells our heads. This team is a very humble one; it loves to work and respects its opponents, even when they don’t respect it. I’m not being paranoid. Our team is a class act.”
17 points in front?
“I place more emphasis on our quality of play. We have scored in 26 out of 27 games this season, We control the game better. This team also has many faces, and can adapt to different conditions. We have qualities at our disposal that we didn’t have in the past.”
A word on the recruits, Malouda and the transfer market?
“Very good while all being different; they have their eyes on first team places. Malouda? He can be truly world-class if he keeps up his astonishing performances all season. For the moment, he is a recognised international. Captain material? He is a leader and was signed before the World Cup. The transfer market? I still believe that we need another striker. Carew? If he wants to leave, he can leave, as long as he can be replaced and as long as we take on this extra striker. Taking a player on loan is out of the question. But that’s just my opinion. The rumours of Carew going to Celta Vigo are bogus.”