FRENCH LIGUE 1

La Mosson, France

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St Etienne

  • Max-Alain Gradel 75'

Montpellier v St Etienne: Preview

PA Sport

New Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis is banking on 'lucky 13' to help his club's fight against relegation this season.

Courbis returned this week following Jean Fernandez's resignation, with the club five points but only one place above the bottom three ahead of his first game in charge, against St Etienne.

That game takes place on the dreaded Friday the 13th but Courbis insists the numbers are actually encouraging for him.

``We're in 2013 and it's my lucky number, so I don't see why it should change,'' he said at a pre-match press conference screened on his club's website.

Montpellier have only two league games before the winter break, though, and Courbis added: ``We're then going into 2014 and I like the number 14 very much less.''

The colour green, as worn by ASSE, is also often associated with bad luck but Courbis' concerns on that front are of a more practical nature.

``St Etienne play in green on green turf,'' he noted. ``I played against them in 1974 when I was with Sochaux. When you were looking left and right on the pitch, all you could see was green.

``They were strong and on top of that you were struggling to see them.''

The 60-year-old's unconventional look ahead to the game is in keeping with the light-hearted press conference on Monday that announced his arrival.

The mood had previously been more downbeat and defender Siaka Tiene admits he was not sorry to see Fernandez leave.

``Personally I was not heartbroken, nor surprised,'' said the Ivorian full-back.

``When you are not getting results, everyone asks questions. Today, football is all about results.

``When I came here, it was not to play at the foot of the table and battle relegation.

``I believe in this team. The new coach can lift us with his experience.''

ASSE midfielder Fabien Lemoine fears exactly that restorative effect.

``A change of coach often leads to an immediate reaction,'' he told his club's website. ``Every player is extra motivated to show the new coach he is worth a place in the team.

``We are facing a big challenge. It is up to us to show that we are able to handle it.''

St Etienne lie eighth on 24 points, with the three teams ahead of them and the six immediately behind all within three points of them.

``The table is congested and we are in a large 'peloton','' Lemoine added. ``We need to pick up points to move towards the top again.''

They will have to do so without the suspended Kurt Zouma - a reported January target for Chelsea, Manchester City and Monaco - and injured quartet Paul Baysse, Idriss Saadi, Jeremy Clement and Ismael Diomande.

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