EXCLUSIVE: Aliadière back on song
By A. Scott
In the first of a two-part interview, FC Lorient striker Jérémie Aliadière talks to Ligue1.com about Saturday’s derby with Stade Rennais and about taking top tips from Thierry Henry.
Ligue1.com: Bonjour Jérémie. You have Rennes in a Breton derby this weekend. You have been involved in a few of these clashes now since returning to France. How do these games compare to derbies you were involved in during your time in England?
Jérémie Aliadière: You can't really compare them to be honest. The derbies I played in the UK were Arsenal versus Spurs or even Middlesbrough against Sunderland or Newcastle. The derbies here are not as fanatical as those in England. It's obviously a big game and a game that the fans want to win but it won't be the end of the world for them if they don't. They are not as passionate as the people in the UK so it's not as big.
L1: Lorient are doing very well this season. You are just two points behind Rennes in fourth at the moment. There are a lot of teams competing for a place in Europe, so how important is this game and how high can Lorient realistically go this season?
'A great thing to beat Rennes'
JA: It is difficult to say how far we can realistically go because we have been quite inconsistent. We have had runs, like in November and December when we won five in a row [ed: five wins in six games], but then since January we have kind of been struggling a little bit. We have lost away, won at home and then lost away, so that makes it hard to say realistically what we can achieve. I know we have a really good team and good talent but it seems that when we play bigger teams we do better and when we play smaller teams who are fighting for their lives we kind of struggle. Obviously we are very close to fourth or fifth place so winning against Rennes will give us confidence and will see us go in front of them. So it would be a great thing if we could beat them.
L1: You have won just one of your last four games and were beaten 2-1 at Nancy last weekend. They had not won in a very long time, so that must have been a deeply disappointing result...
JA: Yeah for sure it was very disappointing. We went there hoping to win because Nancy are bottom of the table and I couldn't remember the last time they won a game. We conceded really silly goals, were not organised as a team and didn't work hard. I felt we were really passive and didn't play like the Lorient team that are fighting to be fourth in the league and get in to Europe. So it was disappointing but, saying that, we have obviously got a lot of big players missing as well and that makes things more difficult.
L1: When you played Rennes away in September you managed to win 2-1 with nine men in an epic game that featured two amazing Alain Traoré goals. You played just the first half of that game. What are your memories of that day?
JA: I had just come back from injury having been out for a couple of weeks. I played for 45 minutes, at which point we were winning 2-0 with nine men [ed: Lorient were reduced to nine men in the 54th minute when goalkeeper Fabien Audard was dismissed], so the manager just said that as I was coming back from injury it was better that I came off at half time and that the team could just try to defend that result. And we did it. It was a great feeling to be honest to beat Rennes at their own ground and, on top of that, to do it with nine men. It was a great day and I think all of those games at the beginning of the season gave us belief that we could do something special this season.
Return to form
L1: On a personal note, you have eight goals this season, including strikes against PSG, Lyon, Montpellier, Marseille and away to Saint-Etienne. But what about your goal last weekend at Nancy? A colleague of mine said I had to ask you if you learnt that one from Thierry Henry?!
JA: [Laughs] Yeah I did! Well, I can't say I learnt it from him but I definitely learnt to try and keep calm in front of goal and not just smash the ball in every time. Sometimes you just have to take your time a little bit and try to place it. Shooting hard is not always the answer. I know Thierry used to do that very well all the time.
L1: You scored just twice in 18 games last season so you have improved in front of goal this season. I suppose it took you quite a bit of time to adapt to playing in Ligue 1 because you'd never actually played in Ligue 1 before...
JA: Yeah, that's right. It took me a bit of time but it's more the fact that the season before last I was out all season. It took me a bit of time to readjust and get my feelings back and get back to 100 percent because I had a year completely off. I hadn't played any football and it takes time to come back from the type of injuries I had. So it took me all of last season to get my feelings back, get to know my teammates and get used to the French league because, like you said, I had never played here before.
Lorient and Rennes clash on Saturday at 17:00 CET at the Stade du Moustoir. Ligue1.com will have more from Aliadière about his career in England and about the secret to Christian Gourcuff’s longevity at Lorient next week.