Tigana aims higher

Wednesday 28 August 2002

After watching his side deal with Intertoto Cup final opponents Bologna in an accomplished fashion, manager Jean Tigana was brave enough to hazard a guess at the Chairman's opinion of Fulham's three-goal hero, Junichi Inamoto.

Without doubt, it was the Japanese international's performance that stole the show on Tuesday night at Loftus Road as he fired in all three of Fulham's goals to guide the Whites into the uncharted territory of the UEFA Cup.

Speaking after the match, Tigana said: "I think the chairman will want to keep him, although I haven't spoken to him.

"I am very happy for Junichi. I wanted to sign him two years ago before he went to Arsenal because I knew him well.

"In a way he lost a year at Arsenal, but I am sure he progressed working under Arsene Wenger. It is difficult to play at Arsenal because they are a big team with a fantastic squad."

Not only did the victory represent Inamoto's arrival as one of Fulham's major players. A new page in the Fulham history book was also written after the win confirmed UEFA Cup football for the Whites.

It all now seems like a far cry from the day Jean Tigana was first paraded around the pitch at Craven Cottage as Fulham's new manager.

"When I arrived two years ago nobody thought it was possible for us to play at this level. But this is the second step in my plans," said Tigana.

"The first target was to play at a high level and the second was to play in a European cup competition.

"My target now is to go higher, but we need a bigger squad because it is going to be a long season.

"To play in the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club's history is fantastic and I am very happy."