September 12, 2021
Galtier: "We avoided the worst"
Christophe Galtier spoke to the press following Le Gym's victory in Nantes (0-2).
Can we talk about this match as a reference point?
If you had told me at the break that we were going to win this match, it would have been hard to believe… Although a match can turn on its head at any time. Can we describe this match as a reference point? I don't know. The team, since the start of the season, has had a very good start to the league campaign. I was struggling to recognise my troops, and on top of that, I was sat very high up above the pitch*, we could see everything clearly. We lacked everything in the first half: rhythm, intensity, attacking play, effort in the recovery. We held on in a huge storm, we avoided the worst because our goalkeeper was good and we had a touch of luck. We couldn't continue in that way in the second half. We gave away too many corners, lots of free-kicks too. We were always off-beat. We needed to reposition things, restructure things, the things that made us have a good start to the league, with a demanding attitude, a certain intensity and solidarity. Exactly what we weren't seeing during the first half. In the second, it was also difficult. We had a bit of luck, the ball hit the post, Mario Lemina cleared the ball off the line. We were lucky, and that came from the collective effort. After that, those efforts were rewarded by two great goals. We were dominated for the large part of the match.
How would you explain these difficulties?
Due to the absence of my full-backs, Youcef Atal, who wasn't yet ready to play despite being on the teamsheet, and Jordan Lotomba who was suspended. We therefore needed to defend with Flavius, who put in huge effort and was put under pressure by a very good Simon in the first half. But it's not his position, he is a central defender. It was difficult for him. Tactically, players weren't in their usual areas. I am thinking about Calvin Stengs, who was on the left but is more interesting on the right; Amine who is livelier on the left, but was on the right. We want the match to play out in a certain manner, but we quickly spotted a lack of familiarity across the pitch. When that is the case and on top of that, we were a bit limp and asleep, it leads to this kind of match, especially in the first half.
Why these choices?
In terms of the characteristics and the manner in which we wanted to come out with the ball, with the lack of a specialist right back. I wanted to find depth with Hicham. We found it, but there were too many mistakes. We worked in small groups over the last 15 days, with the international break. When that is the case, you aren't moving, you have a quality opposition who is pushing forward, getting up in your face, winning the ball, and make you defend on the back foot. That's what we needed to rectify at the break.
Is this victory 'comforting' after the punishments handed down this week?
I don't know. We arrived yesterday evening, I saw quality training sessions. Following the Disciplinary Commission's report, I didn't witness a squad that was impacted by this. Of course, we would have preferred to keep the points that we could have picked up on the pitch… Winning it maintains our run. Not conceding a goal too. I am not sure that the decisions led to any negativity within the squad. But I will speak with the squad to understand why we started the match in this way.
Were you surprised by Nantes?
No. I saw them play very well against Lyon, with lots of commitment, lots of forward play, and real incisiveness down the wings. Against Lyon, they didn't have as many chances as they did against us. Today, they had a lot. There were certain clumsy moments, a lack of luck and a goalkeeper who was good.
Were there too many chances for your liking?
With a bit of experience behind me, when you see that you have been dominated and your opposition doesn't open the scoring with so many chances, you can then hope to make the difference in the final quarter of an hour. That's what happened. What Nantes did required a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, and it can lead to frustration. In the final quarter of an hour, we made the most of the spaces that Nantes left. Things stretched a little, we were able to play between the lines as we had wanted to do from the get go. What we were't able to do for 75 minutes, we managed to do in the last quarter of an hour.
When we see what Delort, Dolberg and Gouiri were able to do together, you are going to struggle to separate them…
I said on Friday during the press conference, that they work together and will work together. I decided not to start Andy to comfort the players in what they had done since the start of the season. I was very happy with the performances of Kasper and Amine in the matches that they had played together. I felt that Andy needed to come on and that I would need to push Amine out to the left, because he knows this role well. There was a goal with that at the heart. When you have quality players who are used to getting assists, who have a calm head in front of goal, you've always got a chance of scoring. We needed to bring some fresh blood in attack, reposition Amine on the wing that he likes and link up Andy with Kasper.
You have said in the past that Amine isn't a winger…
He played all of last season on the wing, but in another set-up, in a 4-3-3. I think that what he was able to do last season - and he had a very good season - he must be capable of doing it in another formation.
The joy is tempered following the death of Rémi Mestrallet…
Yes. Believe me that we were all impacted by that at the end, when we learned of the passing of young Rémi, who was with us for many years and left at the start of the season. He had a car accident. I send my condolence to his family, his loved ones, his parents. It's a tragedy, there are no words. It's the worst thing that can happen to a family and parents. OGC Nice will organise a beautiful tribute to this young lad.
*Suspended, Christophe Galtier took his place in the stands of La Beaujoire on Sunday. The punishment originates from a yellow card that the Le Gym's coach received "for disapproval" in the 70th minute of the match against Marseille. The card converted into a one match suspension, after a suspended punishment received during his time at LOSC.