Christophe Galtier, OGC Nice is engaged in an end to the season with enormous stakes. If you had to choose: 3rd place or victory in the Coupe de France?
Christophe Galtier: It’s very difficult to choose. A trophy is always extraordinary. The Coupe de France is in my opinion the most beautiful trophy because it brings together all of French football.
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Do we not have to choose when we are not PSG?
CG: We must not choose. I make sure that we don’t focus on the final. The championship is also a possibility of meeting in the European Cup next season. I have a group that is young. We are in a period where we were sick. We are recovering a bit. To focus and play everything on a match like the final would be a mistake on my part.
Christophe Galtier, the coach of Nice, confided in Eurosport before the final of the Coupe de France
You present the best defense in Ligue 1 but the 11th attack of the elite despite a nice cast. How do you explain it?
CG: We have players who took time to take the measure of the level of Ligue 1. But, in my opinion, it was good and sometimes even very good. And in wanting to get better, things went wrong. That is my responsibility. I wanted to look for other associations to have more solutions and options at the start and during the match. I realized that I disrupted certain relationships causing my players to perform poorly. And these counter-performances sometimes generate frustration and doubt.
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Amine is not in a crisis of confidence, he lacks benchmarks
Is that how you explain Amine Gouiri’s current bad patch?
CG: Amine is not in a crisis of confidence, he lacks bearings. It’s linked to what I wanted to put in place by having four real offensive players. I was convinced he could play on the left side, he did last season. He was very efficient but in a 4-3-3 animation. In my 4-4-2, I thought for a long time that Amine could be that option. Finally, I insisted and the youth, perhaps also the lack of experience, of Amine meant that there was no exchange saying: ‘Coach, this is not where I I’m comfortable, I’m focused on the defensive aspect, I find myself far from the goal. I don’t have my bearings.’ So I insisted thinking it was going to pass. The best is the enemy of the good and things have gone wrong. I had discussions with him. He will find the position he had at the start of the season next to the striker.
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This season, you have the results but you haven’t always been convincing in the game. Is this your biggest area of progress for next year?
CG: Yes, of course. We were victims during the season of a lack of performance from the eccentrics, but my game is very much based on them. Calvin Stengs struggled to integrate not into the group but into the L1. Justin Kluivert, who was often injured, appeared late. Kasper Dolberg had a lot of problems.
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With you, Nice reached their first Cup final since 1997, Saint-Etienne won their first trophy in 32 years, Lille ended a decade without a title. Does it make you proud to wake up all these big clubs?
CG: No. I do not have my in my brain, in my software the notion of pride. I like to share emotions and I like to see people happy. Life is very difficult right now. If, through the team, if through a victory in the Coupe de France, we can make people happy for 24 hours, 48 hours, a week, then I will be very happy. Proud, no.
I don’t tell everything but I don’t lie
Do you know that you can become the only manager in history to win the Coupe de France, the Coupe de la Ligue and the French championship with three different clubs?
CG: I was told. But that doesn’t make me proud. If we are lucky with OGC Nice to win the Coupe de France, well, I would have been the only one to do that. But I do not enter the pantheon. Reaching the final and winning a Coupe de France, in a period when Ligue 1 is totally dominated by PSG, obviously, that makes the performance even more honourable.
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Vincent Planté, your former goalkeeper in Saint-Etienne said of you: “He is one of the great coaches. He’s a straight-forward person! Even if he didn’t make me play, I prefer guys like that. He told me: ‘Vincent, I will not play you, you will be number 2’ when I signed. He’s an underrated trainer!“Do you agree with him?
CG: I believe that when you do this job, you are in human relations. I’ve always said: there are players, but also the man behind. And man needs to be happy, so he needs exchanges. I also say that a locker room needs justice and transparency. When we are as transparent as possible, relationships are as simple as possible. I don’t say everything but I don’t lie.
Is it this philosophy that makes you the best coach in L1?
CG: No, I’m not the best.
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The day I think I’m good, very good or the best, I’ll have to stop
You have won three UNFP trophies for best coach, a record. You are the reigning French champion. You are at least a reference…
CG: (He cuts) I don’t have that look on me, and fortunately. The day I think I’m good, very good or that I’m the best, I’ll have to stop. Every season, every week, I question myself.
Simplicity of instructions, management based on frankness and trust, outstanding communication: is that the Galtier method?
CG: Communication, I let you be the judge. But I quickly understood that it is important, that the media and the press must be made partners rather than enemies. In management, people are at the center of everything. And on the game, I’m not a chess player. I am not dogmatic, I am pragmatic. I watched Sir Alex Ferguson a lot. I am convinced that Pep Guardiola is a very great coach but I’m not in it, I’m not a chess player.
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What are your references?
CG: We have a very good one in France, it’s Didier Deschamps. It must be the benchmark for French coaches. He has a huge background as a player, an incredible career as a coach. Today, he redistributed the cards in the France team to move towards another animation according to the associations he wants to make.
Was there a defining moment in your career that explains your success today?
CG: A key moment is when you win the Coupe de la Ligue with Saint-Etienne. Because we are in the final and we wonder how it will go. We prepare, we try to put all the chances on our side, in the organization, in the preparation of the team, in the management, to arrive on D-Day without injury or suspension and with the team in confidence. Coaching is very, very important. But you also have to keep your locker room alive.
I try hard not to be a fad
Is it more difficult to get there when you’re a French coach, without an identified tactical imprint and without having had a huge career as a player?
CG: I don’t know. Football is still a reflection of society. It consumes, it speaks and there are always fads. I try not to be a fad. I make sure with my relatives, my family, but also my collaborators to improve myself, to reinvent myself. I never take a negative view when people say that my work is very simplistic. It’s much less simplistic than what people may say. I work in the field and I let people talk. When you’re 55, you’re where you need to be. It’s not a matter of luck.
Is it easier to be one of the great coaches when you’ve been a great player? Does it save time?
CG: Once, I spoke of my desire for the France team. Having been Mr. Javier Clemente’s assistant in Marseille, he told me a lot about the job of coach. When I see what Didier Deschamps does, I tell myself that it’s a huge performance and that it must be exciting. Immediately, some of your colleagues reacted: “Galtier, it is impossible for him to manage stars, he does not know the France team, he has never played there.” They have the right to think so. I don’t take it badly. It is true that, when you have to manage a selection, you have an advantage to have played in this team or, at least, to have signed a big European course in a club. I’m not frustrated with that.
While PSG is potentially looking for a coach, why, in your opinion, are you not in the discussion even though you finished ahead of them last year?
CG: Yes, but people can say it’s luck over eleven months (smile).
Galtier: “I try not to be a fad”
Doesn’t it feel like you’re hitting a glass ceiling?
CG: There is no glass ceiling above my head or I would break it. The important thing is to be happy.
CG: Very happy.
What is Christophe Galtier’s biggest dream today?
CG: At 55, I stopped dreaming. Or else I dream of winning the Coupe de France and finishing on the podium. It would then be a very, very great season.
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