Saha's praise

Tuesday 9 April 2002

Some people will look at Monday night's draw at Newcastle and say that Fulham have turned the proverbial corner.

Whilst there's no doubt that Fulham's performance showed great fighting spirit, the Whites now have the small matter of an FA Cup semi-final to contend with.

The result couldn't have come at a better time for Tigana as Fulham will now go to Villa Park on the back of a very creditable draw, as he admitted after Monday's match.

"We showed a great improvement against Newcastle. We were strong and pressed and I think that is good for the next game.

"It is a fantastic game for us on Sunday and you can see the belief coming back.

"It was a very good point. It was important to get that as a minimum because we had lost seven of the previous eight games. It will be important for the confidence of the team."

Fulham eventually scored the equaliser after a series of chances went begging. Perhaps it was of little coincidence that Louis Saha, the striker whose performances had most typified Fulham's season, scored to goal in the most fortunate of circumstances.

With the young Frenchman showing flashes of the devastating play that terrorised Division One defences last season, his goal could not have been less deliberate. Yet as Thierry Henry showed with his goal against the Whites at Highbury, it doesn't matter how it goes in as long as the ball ends up in the net.

Saha's performance also drew praise from Tigana as the Fulham boss recognised the mental block Louis has been going through recently.

"His performance deserved a goal. He played very well and his only problem is in his head because he has big quality. Even one off his knee will help but it is the one time he has been lucky."

"We need to get back the confidence of the strikers and midfield because we created lots of chances but we did not arrive to score. It is a collective problem."

Turning to the issue of Premiership safety, it was clear that Tigana didn't want to rely on other results.

"People say the point at Newcastle might be enough but other teams might win their games and we must look after ourselves.

"I don't know how many points we need. The problem is now Ipswich's performance."