Legwinski happy to follow Tigana

Friday 24 August 2001

If Fulham's newest signing Sylvain Legwinski harboured any doubts that manager Jean Tigana had changed his demanding management style since he was in charge at Monaco, they were rapidly erased on Wednesday night.

The 28-year old midfielder - a £3.3 million buy from Bordeaux - was at Monaco with the little Frenchman and was persuaded to link up with him again earlier this week.

He was at Craven Cottage to watch his new team for the first time when Fulham beat Sunderland 2-0 on Wednesday night and even though he was not cleared to play in time, he appeared on the pitch. After the last supporters were leaving the ground, and before Legwinski could make a proper assessment of the team's performance, he was put through his paces by Fulham's fitness instructor Roger Propos.

Fortunately, Tigana the hard taskmaster is to his liking and his enthusiasm to take on board the manager's techniques should mean he will get a chance to make his debut against Derby at home tomorrow.

Legwinski said: "I am very pleased to be in England and with Fulham. When Tigana joined the club and they went into the Premier League I was hoping he would call me. As a manager he is someone who is really good at his job.

"He knows the tactical side very well as well as the player's side. That human approach is very important. In France we talk a lot about Fulham because of Tigana. He is very popular. "My move here happened very fast and I did not need a long time to reflect on the decision because Tigana is here."

Legwinski's admiration for his manager certainly runs deep. As someone who enjoys playing a defensive midfield role, the talent of Tigana when he played in a similar position made a big impression.

"He was really good and I remember, even though I was not very old, that he played in the French team and always passed intelligently. He was one of my favourites for sure."

The extension of that respect for Tigana the manager came when both men were at Monaco, along with Fulham midfielder John Collins.

Together they helped the club win the French championship in 1997 and Legwinski rates that season as the main highlight of his career so far. He said: "That was once of the best. We had a very good team and also had a good run in the UEFA Cup." In France, Legwinski also came across Fulham defender Alain Goma in League football and he is aware of the talents of other French players at the club such as Louis Saha. "I watched them play against Manchester United on TV on Sunday and they played very well. They tried to play the ball on the floor, which I like, and they have a lot of good players," he said.

"You can see how Tigana wants the team to play. The system is the same as at Monaco. He does not want to play kick and rush but to pass through the midfield." That, presumably, is where Legwinski comes in. With the ability to play on the right or in central midfield, he said: "I hope to bring my experience to the team because there are a lot of young players here." But in the positions he will be competing for, Fulham already have depth in the shape of John Collins, Lee Clark and Bjarne Goldbaek.

Sean Davis and Steed Malbranque are the youngsters among the first-team midfielders but with Legwinski on board, Tigana has more options than he did last campaign. Fulham is only Legwinski's third club after Monaco and Bordeaux, but he has also played in the Champions League and already has an affinity for English football. "It was a great atmosphere at Craven Cottage on Wednesday and British stadiums are so different to the ones in France," he said.

Legwinski should make his first appearance for Fulham tomorrow but Tigana will still be without the suspended Luis Boa Morte and Clark is still doubtful because of an Achilles problem.

Derby could have defender Youl Mawene back after an ankle injury and midfielder Simo Valakari is set to recover from a thigh problem in time to play.

Jim Smith's side are not known as the country's most physical in their style, but the aggression in the Premier League is something which foreign players have complained about in the past.

But Legwinski has no concerns. He said: "I am not worried. It is not a French problem. I used to play in defensive midfield and if I could not take a kick, I could not have played in that position."