Finnan focused on Leicester

Friday 26 April 2002

From Fulham Today's Ian McCulloch

It's going to be an historic day on Saturday when Micky Adams brings his Leicester City side to play what will be the last ever game at the Cottage as we know it. Things might have been soured slightly by the news that the Fulham Alliance are continuing with their delaying campaign, but this shouldn't be allowed to detract from the occasion. This is the opportunity for Whites fans to celebrate, and Saturday promises to be one long party.

Full-back Steve Finnan, speaking on Friday, said that although the players were aware what a momentous day it was going to be, they were all trying hard to focus on just the game - the season isn't over yet, and there's still plenty to play for.

"Obviously the mood is very positive now," said Finnan, "We've got the six points that have seen us move up to mid-table, and we're at home again on Saturday - Leicester may be down but they'll be wanting to do well and put on a good show - so it all promises to be a good game.

"We'll be looking to get the three points again, and that will push us up the table a couple of places as well. The pressure is off us now, but I think we were relaxed anyway, it was only a matter of time before the results started coming. Obviously we're happy that we're in a better position in the league and that we've had the two good results, so we're really looking forward to the Leicester game and then the final match at Blackburn.

"As far as the preparation goes, the players have to treat it just like another game. Obviously it's going to be a bit of a sad day for the fans, but it's going to be a good day as well. The players have been focussed very much on the game itself which is the way it has to be.

"There's added interest because it's the last home game of the season, and then when you consider that the ground's going to be knocked down and a new one built, then it really is going to be a memorable occasion. It's going to be nice for everyone to come back in a year or two and there'll be a lovely new stadium here for everybody.

"There will be a party atmosphere, and hopefully we can make it even better by winning, and that's the main thing that the players are looking to do. Hopefully it will be a sell out, and if the crowd can get behind us like they did against Bolton then we can get a good result."

Talk recently has been all about the InterToto Cup, and trying to unravel the myriad rules about the qualifying criteria. But according to Finnan, entry might still not be a done deal.

"If we can get a couple of good results then we could find ourselves getting into the InterToto, "he said, "I don't really know what's happening with that, whether the manager wants us to go into it or not, but I'm sure that if we got the chance then we would take it.

"Why not try it out and play the games instead of friendlies? We had a lot of games pre-season, so we could use the InterToto instead of those."

"I'm not sure what the manager will do in terms of team selection now we're safe. If he does make changes then there'll be some disappointed players, but that's his decision. If we're looking to get into the InterToto, then he might want to stick with the side that's won the last two games."

It's almost impossible to predict what sort of performance Leicester will put in. They could be relaxed and adventurous, perhaps full of youngsters eager to make a name for themselves, or they could be depressed and disinterested. Finnan is in no doubt that the presence of ex-Fulham boss Mick Adams will ensure that there will be no lack of effort.

"Obviously we drew nil-nil up there and it was a tough game," he said, "Every game in the Premiership is, and even though they're relegated they'll be looking for a result because they don't want to go down with the worst points record which is looking likely at the moment. They'll be up for the game and hopefully it will be a good one.

"With Micky Adams coming back to his old club you can be sure that he'll get them fired up. That should make for an even more interesting game."

And finally, what about the World Cup? Any news yet?

"The squad is announced the first week of May," said Finnan, "They leave it quite late. Hopefully I'll be involved, but it's going to be a nerve-wracking couple of weeks."

It's going to be a great day on Saturday, and it sounds as though the team are determined to get the three points that will see the grand old ground out in style. There won't be dry eye in the house!