Before the trip to Reims, a direct adversary on the road to a qualification for the European Cup, the Stéphanois coach wants to keep everyone under pressure.
How do you prepare for such a thrilling end of season ?
It’s what we imagined after having played the greatest teams in February and in March. We needed a streak and we just earned 10 out of a possible 12 points. We still have to play 6 matches. Everyone’s fighting in the championship, whether that be at the bottom of the rankings, for the Europa League or for the Champions League. Few teams have no important matches left to play. For the others, everything is difficult. That’s where we are.
What pleases you the most about your players?
The shape we’re in. Certain players reach their peak level at the right moment, like Mathieu Debuchy or Wahbi Khazri, who’s a key player without being at 100%. Everyone is getting in shape for crunch time. That’s encouraging.
Valentin Vada speaks of the ambiance that prevails among your players as an advantage for the final sprint.
When you choose players, you also choose men. For everything to go well, you need goods pros and good youths who are willing to learn. In the locker room, there’s a good ambiance and, inevitably, that’s an advantage. When everything goes well with management, with the fans, everyone is happy. On the other hand, you can’t relax. In Amiens, we saw that we could be surprised when we played a bit worse than we usually do. We don’t have the right to relax. The advantage that we have, is having experienced players, who have played at the highest level of professional Football.
What are they contributing to you at the end of this season?
Experience, which is appropriate. The main players, who have played do-or-die matches, adapt to the situation. We’ll take the maximum number of points if we make few mistakes during the last 6 matches of the season. These players know what that means. You don’t have to explain to players like Debuchy, Perrin, M’Vila or Khazri what you expect of them twice.
What is your opinion of Stade de Reims ?
Sunday, we’ll have a difficult match. Because Reims is the surprise team at the top of the rankings. This team is riding a dynamic that dates to its last season, when they sailed through the Ligue 2 championship. Having 48 points at this stage of the season is incredible for a promoted team. When you defeat Lyon, Marseille, Rennes and when you tie against Lille, you can have the legitimate ambition of defeating Saint-Étienne. And Reims will have this ambition Sunday. In the first leg of the championship against them, we needed important goals at important moments in order to have a match that’s a bit easier in the second half. We consider Reims to be one of our main opponents.