Sunday papers

Sunday 19 August 2001

From the Sunday Mirror

ARSENAL have tried to offload Dennis Bergkamp to Fulham in a cut-price pounds 2 million pounds move.

Manager Arsene Wenger agreed the fee with fellow Frenchman Jean Tigana and the club thrashed out personal terms with the player's advisers.

The move collapsed only at the last minute when Bergkamp insisted he wanted to stay at Highbury and fight for his place.

He underlined the point with two goals after coming on as a sub in Arsenal's 4-0 win at Middlesbrough yesterday.

Tigana had made the Dutchman his No.1 summer target and made moves for West Ham's Frederic Kanoute and Bergkamp's Arsenal team-mate Kanu only when he failed to capture the 32-year-old.

Yet the news will shock Arsenal fans coming just months after Bergkamp had committed his remaining days to the North London giants by signing a new two-year contract.

And it almost certainly leaves Bergkamp's future in doubt knowing Arsenal were happy to balance the books by showing him the door after a free-spending summer in the transfer market.

He had threatened to quit the club after accusing them of lacking respect when he failed to command a regular place last season.

Bergkamp is also believed to be furious that the club have tried to cash in on him at his expense.

The news is bound to alert Tottenham, Chelsea and Aston Villa, who have all been linked with Bergkamp over the last nine months.

Meanwhile Fulham have widened the search for a striker and have drawn up a short-list that includes Manchester United's Andy Cole, Kanu and West Ham's French marksman Kanoute.

Sunday People

FULHAM veteran Kit Symons is a target for ambitious Cardiff - and may be on his way out of Jean Tigana's squad this week. Symons was in and out of the promotion-winning side last season.

The Observer

When Fulham last played a match at Old Trafford as members of English football's top division, pounds, shillings and pennies were still the national currency, Stanley Kubrick was about to peer into the distant future with his epic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and England were beating Australia at cricket. In fact, it was so long ago that political correctness had not even arrived at The Guardian.

Its match report of Fulham's trip to Manchester on 15 April 1968 said that Allan Clarke, in missing a wonderful opportunity to put the visitors level, 'hesitated as a woman hesitates in a shop before choosing a new outfit'.

That match brought out a crowd of more than 60,000 to watch Best, Charlton, Kidd, Law et al, who were warming up for their famous 4-1 destruction of Benfica in the European Cup final, overwhelm the struggling London side, although not by as much as they should have done.

The 3-0 scoreline represented 'compassion gone mad', according to the aforementioned report. Three days earlier, Fulham had lost 4-0 to United - two goals from Best - at Craven Cottage, a result that put the Old Trafford club back on top of the table, overtaking Leeds, and made it impossible for Fulham to escape relegation. And so, shortly afterwards, began more than 30 years of scuffling in the lower divisions, an existence that might have gone on indefinitely had it not been for the munificence of the renowned retailer Mohamed Fayed, whose lust for self-aggrandisement, happily for Fulham, fitted comfortably with the club's own understandable desire to improve themselves.

How long ago it was, that last 10-year stint in the top division. (There had been only one previous one, from 1949-52.) Last Thursday, at a press open day just across the road from Fulham's expensive training headquarters in a south London suburb, the name of Johnny Haynes brought hardly a flicker of recognition from the multi-national squad from which the French manager, Jean Tigana, will choose his team for this afternoon's match at Old Trafford.

For most of us of a certain age, Haynes, who played 56 times for England, remains what we would like to think of as the archetypal Fulham player. Of course, he isn't. A magnificent controller of the ball and finisher, he was much better than most of those who preceded him at Craven Cottage and nearly all those who have followed.

Haynes made his League debut for Fulham on Boxing Day 1952 in a 1-1 draw against Southampton and was a regular in the first team for the next 18 years. Always immaculately groomed, he was by far the club's best player during this time and was often frustrated by the mediocrity around him.

Haynes standing with hands on hips delivering a withering stare is almost as enduring an image as the one of him perfectly poised over the ball, right leg drawn back ready to deliver a telling pass.

Of course, he was richly rewarded, famously becoming the first player to be paid £100 a week after his former team-mate Jimmy Hill negotiated the end of the £20 maximum wage.

Haynes played in that 4-0 defeat by Manchester United at Craven Cottage - 'One could feel sympathy for Haynes, whose prodigious amount of work was allowed to go to waste' (The Guardian again) - but was not fit enough to travel to Old Trafford three days later.

It would be misleading, though, to elevate Haynes too highly, particularly when talking about the present Fulham team who last season, in gaining promotion to the Premiership, displayed many of the virtues for which Haynes became widely admired.

John Collins, the admirable Scottish midfielder who was brought to Fulham by Tigana before the start of last season, is certainly worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Haynes.

No doubt Haynes approved of the way Collins and his team-mates played their way out of the First Division. 'Everybody said it couldn't be done, you couldn't pass your way out of that division, you had to roll your sleeves up and fight to get points,' says the 33-year-old Collins, who survives in midfield through nimbleness and guile rather than breast-puffing posturing. 'But Jean's philosophy is that as long as you're strong when you've got the ball that's what counts.

It's the opposition who have to fight and scrap if you keep possession. That was our philosophy last season and I am sure it will be the same this time.'

Collins first encountered Tigana's managerial ways at Monaco, where he played from 1996-98 having previously been with Hibernian and Celtic. Even though he was an experienced player by then, Collins found them formative years.

'When I played in Scotland, football revolved around life, but when you go abroad your life revolves around football. It's a different mentality. You're well paid, but they make sure they get a pound of flesh off you.'

It was a mentality that obviously appealed to the industrious Collins, who had an unproductive spell at Everton when he returned to British football and needed little persuading to join Fulham when Tigana came in for him a little more than a year ago.

A successful combination thus far, neither Collins nor Tigana is deluding himself that it will be as easy to finish high up in the Premiership as it was to dominate the First Division, even with a crop of close-season signings that includes the Dutch national goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar and the highly regarded France under-21 midfielder Steed Malbranque.

'Up against better players and better teams, our concentration levels will have to be higher,' says Collins. 'We won't be creating as many chances as we did last season so we'll have to be more efficient as a team.'

Collins is entitled to have a more positive view of today's match at Old Trafford than many of his team-mates, who remember the defeat they suffered there in the fifth round of the FA Cup in February 1999.

In Collins's visit to the ground with Monaco a year earlier in the quarter-finals of the Champions League he did an impressive policing job on David Beckham as the French side drew 1-1 to go through on the away goal.

He is cautious, though, of expecting too much this afternoon. 'United's strength is that everyone contributes,' he says. 'You can't just cut off Beckham and expect to win.

There's Giggs on the left-hand side, Scholes coming through the middle - Veron will be there as well - and there are good strikers. It's not just one specific area in which they're strong.' Which is very much as it was 33 years ago.