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English only at the Cottage

last updated Saturday 02nd December 2000, 10:05 PM

While Chelsea get their tongues in a twist, Jean Tigana has no problems getting his message across at Fulham. The Craven Cottage manager has BANNED every language except English in the dressing room or at the training ground. And even with 10 foreigners on the books it is working - as his team continue to do the business out on the football pitch.

In comparison, since Italian coach Claudio Ranieri took over from sacked Luca Vialli, Chelsea have been dumped from the UEFA Cup, beaten in the Worthington Cup and slumped to 14th in the table. Many believe the reason is Ranieri's failure to explain his tactics properly to a Blues squad that boasts 11 nationalities. Ranieri is desperate to end the slump and is on his second interpreter in a desperate bid to get through to his stars.

French legend Tigana is just as desperate to gain promotion from the First Division but has also reached the Worthington Cup quarter-finals by beating Premiership side Derby on Wednesday night.

Fulham keeper Maik Taylor explained: "Even if the manager is with his French coaches Christian Damiano and Roger Propos, they will only ever speak English. "We are left in no doubt what they want and what the team is expected to achieve. "At the start of the season, the manager used a translator who stuck to him like glue wherever he went. He's fluent in English now although he still doesn't do press conferences as he wants to let the lads do the talking for him on the pitch. "No matter what the occasion or result, the expression on the manager's face never changes. "He never looks any further than the next game and he appreciates how long the season is in England."

Chelsea have also been criticised for lacking backbone and rolling over too easily when the going gets tough. Northern Ireland international Taylor added: "Standards have been set and it's up to the team not to let them slip. When Preston ended our 11-game winning run, we went into training and our spirit made sure we got our season back on track almost immediately. "It's about pulling together in the same direction and working hard for each other - in Fulham's case that is seven days a week every week. "There were a few moans and groans about the regime at the start of the season but they have disappeared now.

"This time last season, I didn't think I could get any fitter - but I have. The entire squad has and that shows in the percentage of late goals we score to wrap up games. "The size of our squad is a big asset. Several offers for players have been turned down because sooner or later, everyone will get used. Against Derby, five regulars were rested but we still saw off a Premiership side. "It's difficult keeping everyone happy but while the team keeps winning, it's difficult to argue against the methods Tigana has brought to the club. "He had immense respect the moment he walked through the door. He has been there and done it, he's one of football's true greats. "The team is playing how he wants, it's his methods, his tactics and his direction that have steered Fulham to the top of the division.

"No one though dares get carried away because the manager certainly doesn't. It's a long season, with so much to play for. "Our midfielder Lee Clark is a constant reminder of how things can go wrong. "He was part of the Newcastle side who were 12 points clear at the top of the Premiership in February - they were beaten to the title by Manchester United."

FULHAM'S 10 foreigners are: Marcus Hahnemann (U.S.), Bjarne Goldbaek (Denmark), Karlheinz Riedle (Germany), Paul Peschisolido (Canada, loaned to QPR), Louis Saha (France), Fabrice Fernandes (France, one year's loan), Nicolas Sahnoun (France, one year's loan), Luis Boa Morte (Portugal, one year's loan), Andrejs Stolcers (Latvia) and Eddie Lewis (U.S.).

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