December 30, 2017
Lucien Favre: "We are preparing well for the future"
Before getting back out onto the pitch, Lucien Favre spoke to the press about this mini-break, the state of his troops, the transfer window...
Coach, the holidays were short. Were they long enough?
It did some good to have a break, yes. There were lots of matches in the first half of the season. We had to start back very early this summer, with the incredibly important qualification match against Ajax. This break at Christmas was very short, but these 5-6 days have done some good. It's better to stop for one week, rather than two, because after that to get going again, it would be more complicated.
Do you get to a feeling of saturation at a certain time, to the point where you would say that you are fed up?
Fed-up no, that's not the right phrase. It's our job, and we like it. But you need to see something else, the family, friends. Christmas is always a special moment. I spent a couple of days at home, in Switzerland, there was snow, it was calming. But I am very happy to see my players and staff again. You begin to miss it very quickly, we are happy to be back on the pitch.
Could you give us an update on your squad as you return to training today?
We are missing several players. The Brazilians celebrated Christmas in Brazil, they will return a bit later. Mario Balotelli is working with a fitness coach and will be back on the 2nd. We have a couple of injuries who will come back progressively with our coaches: Cyprien (adductors), Lusamba (internal lateral ligament), Jallet, Coly, Ganago, Sneijder. Seri is here but is unwell. Makengo is also here, even though he has a slight niggle at the back of his thigh.
How are you going to manage these final days of 2017?
We are going to approach it slowly. The players had programmes to keep themselves in shape. I imagine that they have been doing things this week. We can't force things, we need to be careful. It will be progressive and not very long, sessions of about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes.
Are you going to control what the players get up to during this break, especially in terms of their weight?
We are a professional club, so of course we control it. But for the players, it's also good that they let go a little bit. During the Christmas period, we are with the family, we eat a bit more. But these are pros, I don't think that a player will put on 4kg in one week, we trust them (smiles).
The strange thing about the fixture list this season, you get going with two cup matches!
Yes, it's rare. These are knockout games from the get go, it's a bit strange but that's the way it is. If we didn't want that, we should have not secured qualification! Whatever may be, all the upcoming games will be important. We have a heavy fixture list with lots of games packed in.
What are you expecting from these cup games? Do you plan on prioritising the game against Monaco given that you are only 180 minutes away from the final of the Coupe de la Ligue?
To approach these games, it's important that the squad is as complete as possible, even though it will be difficult given the fitness update I just gave you. But there are no games that will be privileged over another. We won't throw a game away. We need to be at 100% for both of them.
What are you hoping from the transfer window?
There are areas for improvement as I have said to you since the start of the season, but in the winter, you can't dream. Even if you can make just one good signing, it's very very good. But most of the time, to be able to do so, you need to "lie down". We will see what is possible. Especially on the wings, up-front. A utility player in this area if possible. That's the profile we have targeted. We are looking at all opportunities, even in areas that we don't need somebody in immediately. The club is also thinking about the long term. But there are people and lots of competition. We hope to also be able to count on Seri and Cyprien, even though for Wylan it will take time. Before the season, we said that we were expecting him back in May...
Are you worried about any departures?
No, there will probably be a couple but not many. Players who are lacking game time. Taking the example of Boscagli's loan, it has been very positive for him in Ligue 2. Balotelli? It's acknowledged that he will stay. The President was very clear, and for me there is no doubt. Mario has got himself back on track, but he still has some things to progress with. He is on the right track and will stay with us for at least another 6 months. Koziello? I would be surprised if he leaves.
Can the rise up the table in December change the behaviour of the club in this window?
No, not at all. I am not changing one iota from what I said at the start of the season. It's true that at the end of the first half of the season, we stabilised ourselves defensively. But there is still a lot of work ahead of us. We are sixth, it's good but it comes down to very little, look at the number of points between us and 18th, with a win and the three points, it can change very quickly. But of course it's better looking at the table now than it was three weeks ago. The second half of the season will be tough, but we are preparing well for the future.
What do you hope for in 2018?
On a sporting level, to win a trophy with Nice! But then, I won't bring out the old adage about health, that is always a given. Let's just say that I would like to improve on lots of small details that will help to swing things in our favour.