St. Etienne keeping calm according to Gradel
St Etienne thrashed Rennes 4-0 to move level on points with their opponents in the push for European football.
Friday 24th February
A sense of calm is underpinning St Etienne's rise up the Ligue 1 table, according to winger Max Gradel. Les Verts secured arguably the result of the weekend with their 4-0 drubbing of fellow European hopefuls Rennes, with the victory moving them into sixth place. Such a position was seemingly unthinkable earlier in the season, with an indifferent start marooning them in mid-table. But, another win on Wednesday - this time against Lorient - could really see them emerge as Champions League hopefuls. They are one of three sides tied on 39 points and are only a win shy of third-placed Lille. And the turnaround in form, Gradel says, is down to the attitude instilled in the players by coach Christophe Galtier.
"There was no special euphoria in the dressing room after the Rennes game," the former Leeds man said. "The coach and staff are there to tell us what to do. We have to stay calm and take each game as it comes. My goal and our goal is to do as well as we can." Although Gradel insists celebrations were not forthcoming after the Rennes game, he does acknowledge the quality of the performance. "We managed to play very well against a great Rennes team," he said. "We tried putting them in trouble and it worked. We are pleased to deliver and to have scored four goals as well." A return to league action provided Gradel with a welcome distraction from the heartbreak of having been involved in the Ivory Coast's African Nations Cup final defeat to Zambia. "I must forget everything and get back into the season," he added. "I think the team is even stronger than it was before I left."