Marseille's Strootman: 'We're working to improve'
Kevin Strootman has told The Ligue 1 Show Olympique de Marseille need to improve away from home to keep their top-three challenge on track.
OM head into Week 13 in sixth place, six points adrift of a podium place that is synonymous with qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League group stage.
Last season's UEFA Europa League runners-up saw this season's European challenge ended at Lazio on Thursday with a 2-1 defeat that was their fourth successive reverse in as many competitive outings.
With back-to-back defeats in their last two league games, conceding five goals and failing to score once, Strootman and his teammates are fully aware there is room for improvement, particularly on their travels where they have averaged just a point from each of their six matches.
"Of course we need to do better. Everything is close now between places two and six, close together," said the Netherlands international. "In the home games I think we did a good job, we lose too many points in away games.
"We had difficult away games, against Lyon and Lille, we could do better in those games, and we are working hard every day to improve that to play as a team, to work together. The game against Paris has to be an example for all the other games because if you play with that spirit and that mentality you’re going to win your games."
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Strootman's introduction to life in Ligue 1 Conforama has also been a little rockier than he would have liked. Signed from Roma last summer, the 28-year-old hopes he will soon be able to produce his top form.
"At my age you have to be at your best, 28 now, so they say the good years are coming, I hope that I'm working hard for that. I know where I can do better. I want to be important for the team, I need the other players for that," explained the former PSV Eindhoven midfielder.
"If the team works out well then I can play good, I'm not a player who can pass 3 players and score a goal from 50 metres, I’m not a player like that, I need the team, then I can help them."
If anyone can coax Strootman's best from him, it's Garcia, who worked together with the Dutchman over three years at Roma and was a major influence in convincing OM he was the man they needed.
"It's difficult to explain but you know the feeling for a player that a club really wants to have you, and of course the coach maybe played a big part in it," said Strootman. "The coach knows me, I know the coach, I know what he wants from me and he knows what I can do on the pitch. Maybe he pushed the club even more to get me.
"The club did everything to get me this summer and that's such a special feeling. We have big players in our team, we want to grow we want to play Champions League and I want to be part of that."