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Jean Tigana dreamed of Man U clash

last updated Friday 22nd June 2001, 7:38 AM
Jean Tigana
Jean Tigana takes Fulham to Manchester

LEE CLARK has given his insight into the man who steered Fulham back to the big-time.

Jean Tigana fired the London club to the Division One title in his first full season in charge.

And, yesterday, Fulham were handed a dream game to open their Premiership campaign on August 18 — a trip to Manchester United.

Now Clark, the midfield kingpin who had such a storming campaign in their promotion romp, has lifted the lid and given a glimpse of the man who still remains a mystery even to Fulham fans.

Frenchman Tigana constantly shunned the public glare, sending members of his backroom team or players to post-match media briefings.

Yet Clark reveals the toothpick-chewing stranger on the sidelines is a world apart from the emotional manager who has brought the good times bouncing back to West London.

And he reckons Tigana will be doing cartwheels at the prospect of pitting his wits against Alex Ferguson's champions.

Lee Clark
Lee Clark Fulham's mid field star

Clark, 28, said: "This is what Jean Tigana has been desperate for since the first day he walked through the door here.

"He came up against them in the Champions League when manager of Monaco and still talks about those games. It gets him going.

"People may only see him on the touchline with his toothpick but he does get emotional about his football, even though I have never seen him lose his rag. "He tends to get his point across without resorting to that. "But he will be so excited about going to Old Trafford.

"This is what everyone worked for last season — to play against the best team in the country, one of the best in Europe, with some of the best individual players in the world."

Fulham were beaten 2-1 by United in the FA Cup last season. But Clark says it could be a different story in the season's opener.

He added: "They don't usually hit top form until January, so maybe this is the best time to face them.

"They are awesome but even their players admitted we didn't disappoint against them in the FA Cup and this is the perfect early test of how far we've come. "United will be outstanding favourites and no one will expect anything from us other than to play a bit of decent football. "But if we can nick a point — maybe even all three — then who knows what it can lead to."

Clark should have sorted out his own future by then after entering talks over a contract extension.

He had been linked with a return to his native North-East but has just bought a house in Epsom.

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