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Barry Hayles talks of Tigana's upset

last updated Saturday 23rd March 2002, 10:46 AM
Fulham top goal scorer Barry Hayles revealed Fulham boss Jean Tigana's frustration at watching his team plummet from the brink of European qualification to near the relegation zone.

Five weeks ago, all was rosy on the banks of the River Thames as the Craven Cottage faithful revelled in an impressive debut Barclaycard Premiership season offering a gateway to the UEFA Cup via both the league and the FA Cup.

Fulham top goal scorer Barry Hayles
Fulham top goal scorer Barry Hayles revealed Fulham boss Jean Tigana's frustration
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However, since the February 2-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory against Walsall, Tigana's men have plunged to five straight league defeats, leaving them just five points above the trapdoor leading back to the Nationwide Football League.

Wasteful finishing, silly defensive mistakes and a strange compulsion to try to walk the ball into the opposition net have all undermined their campaign, transforming Sunday's encounter with out-of-sorts Tottenham into a must-win match.

Fulham's progression to the semi-finals of the FA Cup has been the good news this month - but Tigana has now come up with a plan to halt the worst run of results Hayles has experienced in his three-and-a-half years at the club.

"I can safely say I haven't played in a Fulham side that's lost five straight league games," Hayles said.

"But all the coaching staff and the players had a meeting on Wednesday. Jean said he wants to manage a side that's in the top half and pushing for a European spot - and he wants the players to recognise that and change our bad run.

"He said about doing more closing-down and stamping out errors, which happen when players switch off at crucial times. We went through a lot of stuff and things were said that we've been working on since, on the training ground.

"We've been training harder than usual, as the gaffer's made this week all about high-tension sessions, pressing the ball. That's the way to win the ball back closer to the opposition's goal.

"We've also done a lot of shooting practice. We normally tend to pass it a lot, but you should see shots flying in from everywhere tomorrow."

Hayles backed Tigana's tough policy of forcing his players to do press-ups if they shoot wide of the goal in training. "It's a punishment thing," he said. "We should be hitting the target a lot more - and the boys have been making a conscious effort to do that. "The players know what the manager wants - and we need to put our chances away. We know what we've got to do - but it's a case of getting the rub of the green and getting a point, never mind three."

Hayles revealed the mood in the Cottagers camp ahead of the Spurs game is of revenge. "In the league, they beat us 4-0 - and it was a convincing 4-0 as well - and also knocked us out of the Worthington Cup, so now we're looking for payback," he added. "Once you get in a lull, you're stuck in there - and we've had five defeats in a row, so this is a massive game. "We've had a few tough games but we've got an easier run-in than a lot of other sides. However, we're just five points away from the drop zone, so it's all to play for.
Source Sporting Life
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