Tigana wants more

Friday 14 December 2001

While the majority of Fulham fans would have come away from Anfield or their television sets delighted with the point prised out of the League leaders, manager Jean Tigana, perhaps typically, was not entirely satisfied. You suspect that even had the Whites won five-nil he would still be discontented as he continues in his pursuit of perfection.

On the face of it Fulham did not have a lot going for them on Wednesday. The Whites have never won at Anfield, in recent times losing ten-nil and five-nil in Cup competitions, and Liverpool were riding high at the top of the table, undefeated at home and never having failed to score in any game this season.

Despite showing some understandable nerves early on, Fulham put in a fine performance, frustrating their illustrious opponents and showing signs that they themselves had the capability to take away all three points.

A superb performance by the Fulham defence kept the ever-dangerous Michael Owen quiet for most of the game, but the England striker still had chances to get his hundredth goal and win the game. Interviewed on radio after the game Tigana conceded that, with the ball hitting the woodwork twice, and the inspired Edwin van der Sar making some tremendous saves, his team had to ride their luck on occasion

"I feel we were a little lucky," he said. "If Michael Owen had taken his chances in the first half we would have found it very difficult to come back. If Liverpool score first at Anfield, they usually win. It is difficult to win here anyway. We found it hard to play offensively because Liverpool are very good in defense and they have a large squad."

The stats of the game showed that possession was split remarkably evenly between the two teams. Fulham's patient passing game looked like they were about to make the breakthrough on several occasions, but too often the final killer pass or shot was missing. Tigana, although clearly dissatisfied that his team had not won, was still able to find the positives from the game and is obviously happy that his team is moving in the right direction.

"I'm sure my team have progressed a little bit. It's a question of our players getting used to all the different levels that they have to come across. What I want is for them to play a bit quicker offensively, that is the primary thing. And Louis Saha and Barry Hayles need to score more goals.

"The players are getting more confident on the pitch, they try all the time to play which is thy main thing. It is important that we relax when we play on the big occasions. We play Tottenham on Saturday and I think it will be a very different game but we also need to go there and get a result."

Having proven to themselves and the rest of the watching Premiership that they are a team capable of taking on and competing with the very best, Fulham can surely have no need to fear anyone. After narrowly losing to Spurs with a much-weakened team in the Worthington Cup, the scene is set for Fulham to gain their revenge. Roll on Saturday.