With seven matches still remaining in the championship, you just attained the 42 points needed to maintain your Ligue 1 status. Is this a huge accomplishment?
If they had told me, the 1st
of January, that we would be in this position the day before Paris comes to the Cauldron, I would have agreed. It’s an enormous accomplishment. But I don’t think that we owe anything to anyone. Taking into account the performances that we’ve delivered, I think that it’s well deserved. We are not concerned and we don't look to the second half of the League table anymore, we look to the top now. When we look at the team that precedes us in the rankings with 44 points, and the next three with 45 points, we say to ourselves “why not”.
Having maintained your Ligue 1 status will your players be less tightly wound?
Of course but they won’t be any less concentrated. Our team is a team with experienced players, that get along really well. I see that everyday, they’re happy to have made their way back. Even with a setback Friday, there’ll be six matches still remaining: we’re going to do as much as we can in order to advance as far as we can in the rankings. We know where we come from, it was a tough season emotionally. It’s rare to experience as much as we did during one season. In regards of the joy they have right now, the players are aware that they can accomplish extraordinary things.
You’ve already worked for clubs that have gone through similar situations. Is that an advantage?
It’s a particular job, taking over a club during a season that’s in progress. That means that the club isn’t doing well. I’ve gone through this in Caen, then in Montpellier. You really have to put together a team that works right away. There is no preparation phase like you get during the summer when you can work on small details. In Saint-Etienne, we speak a lot about the recruits, but certain players are once again at their best level of performance. They are the ones that are responsible for our success.
What is your opinion Rémy Cabella getting back in shape?
He’s working hard, he’s got his guru back, Ghislain Printant. He’s known Rémy since he was 15, and knows how to be uncompromising with him, because he knows that he has extraordinary qualities. Rémy is getting his efficiency back at the moment and getting rid of any and all unnecessary movements in his playing style.
Do you think your team can hold their own against Paris?
Few teams can accomplish that. It would have been better if they were still in the Champions League run and we had played them during the two quarter finals. Paris is a team that doesn’t give their adversary much of a chance. I’m not going to give them the ball, but they’re certainly going to take it. They have players that can score at any moment of the match. We have to accept that we’ll have to run hard, against a team that has the gift of using your own playing style against you. There won’t be any margin for error, we’ll have to be aggressive at every stage of the game.
What type of atmosphere are you expecting Friday evening?
Friday in the stadium will be a party. It’ll be a sold-out match, it wasn’t expected to be like that when I arrived but that’s what I dreamed about. I experienced that when I was the team’s adversary, there will be an outstanding atmosphere. We’ll have to use that force to make sure we finish with a good result. That’s what’s beautiful about Football, that anything can happen. It’ll be necessary to play like a knock-out game.