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Jean Tigana interview

last updated Friday 04th May 2001, 11:27 AM
Jean Tigana
Jean Tigana to retire after Fulham

Jean Tigana has revealed that he plans to end his coaching career at Fulham. In a rare interview, the media-shy Frenchman lifted the lid on his plans for the future, explained how he has turned Fulham into Premiership material and revealed how he felt betrayed by his assistants at previous club Monaco.

Fulham chairman Mohammed Al-Fayed pulled off a major coup when he brought Tigana to the West London club after the former France midfielder had left Monaco in acrimonious circumstances in January 1999.

And the Frenchman has not disappointed his boss, guiding Fulham to the Premiership in impressive style this campaign. The news for Fulham fans has got even better, though, after Tigana admitted he would turn down any attempts to lure him away from Craven Cottage.

"I've got two years of my contract left and another two as an option if I want," he said. "After that, it's Cassis [his home-town on the Mediterranean coast], fishing, good times and rest. Fulham is my last stop.

"In four years' time I'll be 50. I've been in football for 26 years and I've taken five weeks' holiday. I love being on the field but at home they [my family] are starting to repeat to me that there's more to life than football. We will see. Maybe I'll put some money into a club, become a shareholder or a president."

His comments are sure to deter some of Europe's top clubs who will be looking for coaches in the next two years - though there is a chance that the opportunity to replace France coach Roger Lemerre one day may prove too tempting to resist.

There is no doubt that Tigana has been an unmitigated success since his arrival last July. He explained how he did it: "We started our preparations three weeks before everyone else. We balanced the rhythm of life and the players lost a few kilos. After that, I changed the kick-and-rush and the team started to play football.

"It was difficult to accept but it's always the team that plays that wins, as was proved in the World Cup as well as the European Championships. The lads adhered to my plans very quickly and progressed.

"Now we play with one or two touches of the ball with forwards who are very fast. We monopolise possession and the specialist press seem to appreciate it. With thisteam, we would be in the top six of the French first division."

Tigana played down comparisons with fellow French managers Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier, insisting that his club was still way behind them. "Our situations are incomaprable. I'm starting from much further back than them and they've already succeeded.

"If I can get up to their level one day, then all the better. For the moment, we don't see each other, we make do with the telephone. Like me, they're up to their necks in their work. Gerard advised me to come here. He said to me, 'You will see, you're going to have a great time, it's something else.'

"But I haven't had time to go to the cinema, I haven't seen Big Ben yet and I haven't had dinner once with Wenger."

Tigana went on to explain that he maintains his media silence because of his treatment at Monaco last season. He left as coach there and was replaced – though he claimed he was betrayed – by his assistant Claude Puel, who is still at the helm,

"I suffered a lot and in these conditions the best therapy is silence," he said. "It's my way of taking a step back.

"I'd like to repeat the contrary what one of my former assistants, Jean Petit, said. I got no compensation on leaving Monaco. The suffering is for my entourage, when they hear that Tigana destabilised Monaco and then left with loads of money.

"You are always betrayed, that's the law of man," he continued, when describing his Monaco departure. "When there's a number two, he wants to take the place of the number one.

"If I have any advice to give to Claude Puel, it's to avoid staying 25 years at the same club. To be able tobetter judge who the others really are and who you really are yourself, it's better to pack your bags."

To avoid a similar situation at Fulham, Tigana explained the current set-up at Fulham with his assistants Christian Damiano and Roger Propos: "Here, in their contracts, if I go, they go."
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