First half of the season

Coach Galtier's appraisal

Christophe Galtier provided his thoughts on the first half of the season after Le Gym's victory over Lens on Wednesday (2-1).

Once again, a match where you have turned things around. Did you have words at the break?
No. We expected a difficult match. We may have been impacted by our last three matches at home. I had asked my players during our preparation, to remain focused on the game plan throughout the match. There could be positive things, that we are leading, or negative things, where we could be trailing, but in any case, we needed to stay focused on our game plan. The players stayed focused on their roles and their responsibilities. Did we deserve to be trailing in the first half? We conceded a goal that I thought was very stupid. We had one or two chances, but against Lens you know that they will have lots of runners, lots of forward play. We needed to take more risks in the second half. They went back out with a lot of determination, like in the first half, but with some added soul, a better spirit. We were able to equalise, and as soon as we did, the match changed. Even though Lens still created chances, as they have done since the start of the season. You need to believe that you can win until the very end. It rewards the squad's work. It came at the right time for our supporters who were a bit disappointed and at times, angry after our performances at home.

Is it a weight lifted, as you could see with Mario Lemina after his goal?
He took a real knock on the first move. When talking with him, I was contemplating taking him off at the break so that we didn't lose any time making a sub. He said to me that he could carry on. Of course, there is a level of relief because our recent home performances have been real under-performances. A relief to finally be able to score and win at home. The term relief is appropriate.

You are in second place this evening. Would you have believed it if you had been told that this morning?

Yes. It's a pretty open league, even though Paris have built a lead. It's very compact at the top. We now have 33 points on the board, Marseille have a game in hand. It's good but it should have been better, especially at home. There are lots of parameters that have caused us to have the issues in the way we have played. Some players arrived, some players have been injured for a long time. There are connections between players that haven't been able to be built. Second place is very anecdotal. We have 33 points. It's not down to me to judge if it's a good haul or not. There is still the second half of the season to come. That's when we need to look at it, even though the way I work forces me to watch back some of the matches that we have played. The African Cup of Nations is coming up. We will lose important players: Mario (Lemina), Hicham (Boudaoui) and of course Youcef (Atal). We will be without them for between 6 and 7 matches.

« On the whole, it's satisfying, but it's not exceptional.»

Christophe Galtier

Is your satisfaction greater given the way the match played out?
Yes. I thought that we had a good first half, even though Lens clearly had a better one given that they were leading at the break. We struggled to create chances, because we had a low, compact block. Turning around situations like this always needs a certain spirit. Be it Montpellier, Metz or Strasbourg, every time that we have been trailing or we haven't been able to make the difference, our organisation went out the window. We were sticking to a very precise game plan and the players forgot their roles, especially against Montpellier. Against Metz, it was very sluggish, Against Strasbourg, it was me and not the players. We need to appreciate this victory for its true value. We need to appreciate the fact that we have 33 points. But teams that are playing for Europe, when they aren't able to win, they don't lose. That's what we need to work very hard on. It's not refusing to play, you need to play a lot in order to give yourselves the best chances to win - that's what we did this evening - but when you don't manage that, you can't afford to lose. That's what I regret about these home matches. It's a first half of the season in a new project, with a majorly reworked squad, players missing. Calvin Stengs, Justin Kluivert have been out for a long time, Youcef has had various issues. On the whole, it's satisfying but it's not exceptional.

Justin Kluivert got on the scoresheet this evening…

He was out for a long time, 8 weeks. So to find his place among his teammates and discover the relationships that he can build on the pitch, his absence has been really detrimental. He is carefree and we need that. He likes to play, he works for the team. He made the difference but he brings impact, his dribbling ability. He has that instinct. I am very happy for him, It's good for the team. I hope that his second half of the season will be very productive.

Have there been instructions given to the players with regard to Covid during the holidays?
On a daily basis, all of the club is very careful, be that from the sporting staff or the administrative staff. We have seen in the last 48 hours that there were lots of players testing positive. I asked myself the question: how can it be that we have so many players testing positive when tests aren't obligatory. But to travel, head home to their family, at the border, you have to have a test. And of course, we can see that in all squads, there are lots of Covid cases. 10 tests were conducted here and all 10 were negative. That is good. It means that the club, on the whole, is being very careful. The protocols are well respected. Then there are the trips that will happen over Christmas. Of course, we have spoken about it to the players, but we won't escape it, even if everyone is very careful. It's very annoying. Players will head off to the ACN, but others will come back and train. They will be tested as soon as they return. We will surely have positive cases. We also have the uncertainty during these holidays of whether we will play on 2 January. I hope that you all have excellent Christmas holidays. Make the most of the champagne and chocolate.