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Arsene Wenger praises Jean Tigana

last updated Friday 05th January 2001, 2:32 PM
Fulham's ability to rub shoulders with the elite of English football falls under the spotlight on Sunday when the Division One leaders entertain Manchester United in the FA Cup's third round.

However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes fellow Frenchman, Fulham boss Jean Tigana, will not be fazed by the prospect of meeting the Premiership champions.

Jean Tigana
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana
Tigana's arrival at Craven Cottage last year raised a few eyebrows, but the appointment has proved inspirational as Fulham fly high at the top of the first division table and prepare for the Premiership.

Of course, the manager has seen it all before.

Tigana was a pivotal part of the glorious French midfield, including Michel Platini and Alain Giresse, which enthralled in the 1980s and won the European Championship in 1984.

Tigana's impressive pedigree as a player has been followed by a seamless transition into management.

After taking his first coaching role with former club Lyon, he won the French title with Monaco and was touted for the French national job before making his mark in west London.

Only a slump of major proportions will deny Fulham promotion this season.

They are seven points clear at the top of division one, have two games in hand on their nearest rivals Bolton and have lost only twice in the league all season.

And Tigana is poised to become the Premiership's third French manager, alongside Liverpool's Gerard Houllier and Wenger at Arsenal.

Houllier has witnessed Fulham's meteoric rise at first hand this season when his team were stretched to the limit in the Worthington Cup at Anfield, while Wenger, another French success story in English football, is confident that Tigana will continue to prosper.

"He's got a good team of coaches around him and he has pushed through his vision of football and sticks to it," said Wenger.

The Arsenal manager has dealt with Tigana in the past and recommended summer signing Luis Boa Morte to his compatriot, one of the club's success stories this season.

"I believe that he has a good team at Fulham," added Wenger. "They were already very close to coming up last season when I saw them against Tottenham.

"He has added Saha, Boa Morte - and two or three more good players - and that explains his success."

Wenger lauded his compatriot's personality and tactical vision, and those attributes are likely to hold Fulham in good stead when they make the almost inevitable leap to the Premiership.

"He knows how he wants to play and sticks to it," said Wenger.

Tigana and Fulham face the biggest test yet of their Premiership pretensions with the visit of the champions, particularly after their captain, Chris Coleman, was ruled out for the season with a broken leg sustained in a car crash on Tuesday.

However, it is a measure of Fulham's inexorable rise that many still believe the Londoners, with Tigana at the helm, can pull off a Cup shock on Sunday.
Source sport.com
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